New York – Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, has released the following statement in response to the news that New York City is not doing vaccine distribution today and has canceled over 23,000 vaccination appointments this week. 

“Postponing vaccine distribution is heartbreaking for seniors and frontline health care workers who need vaccines now,” said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association. “New York City must be vaccinating residents around the clock to get the virus under control. The theatre industry has been closed for over 10 months now, and it has no hope of fully returning, and bringing back jobs, if we don’t hit critical mass with vaccines. We ask Governor Cuomo to coordinate with President Biden and redouble efforts on a plan that expands testing and distributes free vaccines for all, beginning with our most vulnerable.” 

Equity has been fighting for a governmental response to an arts industry shutdown since March, when it first asked for an economic relief package for an industry in crisis. This effort continued with the passage of the CARES Act, followed by the HEROES Act, creating and extending pandemic unemployment insurance. 

Early during the crisis, Equity called for a federal COBRA health insurance subsidy. Equity members earn their union insurance one week at a time that they work on contract. With nearly 100% unemployment for theatre workers, more members have been falling off of their union plan every month. A COBRA subsidy would make it affordable to remain on their health insurance during a global pandemic.  

Equity has also been advocating for increased arts funding to help the industry, and maintain resources for bringing back jobs once it is safe to resume live theatre.

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  

January 21, 2021