If you are planning a benefit or telethon and wish to engage Equity actors and stage managers, you must clear your event through Theatre Authority. Theatre Authority is a nonprofit organization that administers and regulates the free appearances of performers and provides assistance to members of the theatrical community.
Theatre Authority investigates whether charities are legitimate; protects artists from unfair demands on their time and talents; sets standards, which provide some assurance that a reasonable net profit for the beneficiary can be achieved; and regulates conflict in scheduling local and national telethons. Theatre Authority has also established rules and regulations to insure the performers' comfort, convenience and safety, as well as to protect artists from having their appearances be recorded or reproduced. Finally, Theatre Authority provides a small amount of accident insurance that insures against accidents on the way to, during, and on the way home from a cleared event.
THEATRE AUTHORITY DURING COVID-19
The standard Theatre Authority guidelines have been temporarily suspended because of the COVID-19 crisis. To allow for fundraising efforts to continue, new provisions have been enacted by the Theatre Authority Board with the support of the unions.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the only events currently being approved by the Theatre Authority Board are those taking place online. Members may only participate via video from their homes. Events with onsite participation (with or without an audience) are not currently permitted.
In general, Theatre Authority will consider events that meet the following criteria:
- There must be a prominent and primary fundraising component.
- Rehearsals are limited to no more than 25 hours.
- The fundraiser may either be aired live or captured in advance and edited.
- The fundraiser may be hosted for additional viewing immediately following the initial presentation.
- All materials must be removed from the internet within 4 days (96 hours) of the initial presentation.
- All aired material included must be newly-created (not captured from previous productions), and union members may only participate from their homes without any onsite participation.
- Funds may be raised for a third party. If so, your application must include a copy of that organization's 501(c)(3) tax exempt certificate and a communication from the organization stating both its awareness of the event and that it is to be the recipient of the funds raised.
We hope this information is helpful to you. If your event does not meet these guidelines, please contact your regional Actors' Equity office to discuss contract options for union members to participate.
HOW DOES THEATRE AUTHORITY DERIVE ITS "AUTHORITY"?
The unions of the 4A's (Associated Actors and Artistes of America) have adopted resolutions and rules that give Theatre Authority jurisdiction over performances for nonprofit and charitable organizations. Theatre Authority determines terms and conditions for the events that it clears. The rules of each performer union prohibit members from appearing in a professional capacity at any event that is not cleared and approved by Theatre Authority.
HOW MAY THEATRE AUTHORITY CLEARANCE BE OBTAINED?
If your organization plans to use professional performers or stage managers in connection with a fundraising event, please download an application form entitled "Theatre Authority Application." Make sure to include a short note on company letterhead requesting permission for your specific benefit indicating the names of all union performers and partner organizations (if there are any others involved). We request a minimum of 30 days notice, if possible, so that you can receive clearance before you begin publicizing and selling tickets for your benefit.
All applications MUST be accompanied by a copy of the 501(c)(3) letter from the IRS for each beneficiary. If the application warrants approval, Theatre Authority will issue formal clearance, which must be signed by a duly authorized representative of the sponsoring organization. Requests and approvals must be in writing for the protection of all parties, and must be received by Theatre Authority prior to the benefit performance. If you are raising money for a third party, have the beneficiary send a brief note on their letterhead indicating that they are aware of the benefit and any funds that will be raised on their behalf. If you plan a benefit for multiple beneficiaries, please include the percentage breakdown for distribution of funds. If you are fundraising under fiscal sponsorship of an umbrella organization, like Fractured Atlas, The Field or NYFA, please submit a letter from the umbrella organization confirming your organizations status with it.
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Please complete the application form and return it to Joe Chiplock: by email (preferred) to email@example.com, by mail to Joe Chiplock, 165 West 46th St. 15th Floor New York, NY 10036.
Be sure to include a letter on company letterhead and a copy of the 501(c)(3) for all beneficiaries of your event (See "How May Theatre Authority Clearance Be Obtained").
Check out the Theatre Authority Frequently Asked Questions.
If your question isn't answered there, contact Joe Chiplock at (212) 869-8530 ext 415 or firstname.lastname@example.org.