Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Fiscal Fitness vs. Career Opportunity: An Age-Old Question in the New Landcape

The new business of acting landscape generates an age-old question: What are you willing to endure and what are you willing to sacrifice along the journey to build a professional career as a working actor?
Specifically, let's talk money. 

It has always been a challenge for most actors to earn a living from acting work alone -- and the cut-rate contracts SAG-AFTRA have created, introduced and deemed as acceptable work wages for their members (ultra low budget, new media, etc.) have only added to this challenge. 

The goal for most (all?) actors has always been to perfect that delicate balance between building your resume, keeping relevant and being able to support yourself and the costs of your career. The truth is that a lot of actors work for free for the opportunity, the exposure, the footage, the experience, a current resume credit and, perhaps most importantly, the joy of engaging with both the art and craft of the work with a like-minded community of fellow artists. 

The article in today's Los Angeles Times explores the latest impact on the new landscape that has been moved forward by the newly formed Independent Theatres of Los Angeles. 

The dismissal of what has been (previously) known as the small theatre/99 seat-plan from AEA, specifically for Los Angeles small theaters and Los Angeles theatre artists, has shaken up and challenged local theatre producers in significant ways that have challenged their creative and political muscles -- and, most importantly, their economic futures and their ability to survive. 

Can we make this work in Los Angeles? 

ITLA has a plan -- and it seems tailor-made to young and still not union-affiliated actors. This is an important article to take a few minutes to read

It's also an important conversation for all of us in the (new) business of acting to engage in. 

Most non-union actors will eventually become union affiliated. In the meantime, opportunities for professional development for artists, for economic sustainability for small theaters and for audiences to see and support local theatre need to be key components of any plan moving forward. And then there's the no pay/work-for-free piece of this -- and in the bigger picture of the development of an actor's career, does working for free still have long term added value?