From Broadway to dinner theatre, Equity has a contract to cover professional theatre large and small, wherever it might be happening in the United States. Equity negotiates and administers multi-employer national and regional collective bargaining agreements, as well as single-employer agreements with theatrical employers. These agreements provide minimum salaries, benefits, job security and numerous other provisions to ensure safe working conditions and a work environment where actors and stage managers are protected.
Equity contracts for individual members usually cover jobs in three categories: Principal, Chorus and Stage Manager. The Principal contract is used for all principal actors and most stage managers. The Chorus contract is used for those actors who are primarily performing chorus work. Each individual employment contract is referenced to a specific collective bargaining agreement and incorporates all of its terms.
Members, or their agents and attorneys, may negotiate individual terms and conditions of employment, so long as those terms do not fall below the minimum requirements of Equity’s applicable collective bargaining agreement.
It is a violation of Equity’s membership rules for a member to accept employment that is within Equity’s jurisdiction, without being covered by the appropriate Equity contract. Equity’s jurisdiction is defined by Actors’ Equity Association and not by any employer or individual member. If you have questions about whether an Equity contract is required in order for you to perform, please contact your nearest Equity office. For more information, see also the Do Not Work List.
You should always file a copy of your employment contract with Equity, no later than first rehearsal. Many departments depend upon your employment contract, including Bonding, Membership and the Health and Pension Trust Funds.
CODES, GUIDELINES AND OTHER INTERNAL MEMBERSHIP RULES
There are limited circumstances where Equity members may perform without benefit of an Equity contract. Those exceptions are sometimes referred to as "codes," "guidelines" or "rules." Unlike standard Equity contracts, these rules are designed to ensure that where members intend to hone their skills and “showcase” themselves in the hope of securing future employment, that certain basic conditions are in place. There are no minimum salaries, there is no obligation to remain in a production and none of the regular benefits or protections of standard agreements apply. Actors and stage managers who are participating in projects that do not meet the criteria established in the applicable code, guideline or rule must discontinue their participation and notify the nearest Equity office immediately.
Note: it is a violation of Equity rules to work without signing the appropriate Equity contract or code.