With theaters across the country canceling performances to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Actors’ Equity—the nation’s union for stage actors and stage managers—is advising its members to file for unemployment immediately to earn the maximum amount of benefits should they qualify.
“We understand that some general managers are advising people to wait to see what happens before filing,” the union said to members in a statement. “Our general advice is to file for unemployment as soon as possible to minimize the time it will take for you to collect benefits should you become eligible.”
As Equity notes, unemployment laws and policies vary from state to state, and not all members will qualify—regardless if they’ve lost work from a canceled production or not. In the same statement, the union encourages its members to contact their members of Congress to lobby for relief funding for the American performing arts sector, “showing that workers who power the arts are essential to the stability of communities across the country.”