New York -- Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, has released a statement in response to the news that New York City Mayor Eric Adams has appointed former Brooklyn City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo to serve as the new commissioner of cultural affairs. 

“There is no better time for New York City to live up to its promise of not only being a global arts capital, but a place that prioritizes the wellbeing of the workers who make it all happen,” said Al Vincent, Jr., executive director of Actors’ Equity Association. “By ensuring that the grantees who receive funding from the Department of Cultural Affairs are required to maintain a safe and sanitary workplace, pay a prevailing wage and maintain neutrality during union elections, we can build a stronger, more fair arts community. We look forward to working with the administration to prioritize the needs of arts workers.” 

Background: Equity recently released a report on how local arts agencies can create a truly inclusive arts industry by reforming their granting practices. One of the key recommendations was that agencies should be required to pay a prevailing wage. According to the Center for American Progress, “Prevailing wage laws can ensure that government dollars do not undercut local wage and benefit standards, prevent a race to the bottom among publicly funded contractors, support good jobs, and provide good value to taxpayers.” 

New York City currently lacks strong worker protections on grants given by DCA. As Equity’s report on local arts agencies explains, public funding without these requirements can perpetuate a culture of exclusion in the industry.

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 23, 2022