Gov. Cuomo Has Taken an Important Step; Now New York and Congress Must Focus on Protecting Thousands of Arts Workers Who Will Be Displaced 

New York – Mary McColl, Executive Director of Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, released the following statement after reports that Gov. Cuomo has ordered performances to be suspended until the week of April 13, 2020. 

“Gov. Cuomo has made an important decision to protect the health and safety of everyone who works in the theatre. Equity members are dedicated professionals who earn their health care and pensions one week of work at a time. Today’s decision means tremendous uncertainty for thousands who work in the arts, including the prospect of lost income, health insurance and retirement savings.

“Equity will use all of our options to advocate for all our members and is engaged at all levels to ensure members are protected and paid. Now is the time for Congress and local governments to put workers first to ensure that everyone who works in the arts and entertainment sector has access to paid leave, health care and unemployment benefits. Payroll tax cuts won’t help those whose theaters are now dark. For every middle-class actor you see onstage, there are dozens of other workers behind the scenes and in an administrative capacity. 

"Decisions made now will impact many arts organizations and the communities they serve for months to come. Sustaining our entertainment sector and the workers who power it is essential. We must act, and quickly now, not only to protect public health, but with arts funding at all levels that ensures local arts employers have the resources they need to quickly recover and reopen. This will ensure the arts continue generating an economic halo effect in New York.” 

Read Equity’s statement on coronavirus preparations here. Equity issued guidance to members and Equity Membership Candidates this week asking them not to come to auditions if they are sick or have traveled to high-risk countries. 

ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its Members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. #EquityWorks. 


March 12, 2020