Broadway is considered the pinnacle of the stage and musical actor’s career. It's where the top performers have their names up on marquees, along with recognition by the press and perhaps a Tony award or two. Salaries are also higher than the $22.47 per hour averaged by all actors as of May 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The organization that determines salaries for Broadway actors -- and stage actors throughout the country -- is the Actors’ Equity Association, also known as AEA or Equity. Founded in 1913, this labor union negotiates compensation, working hours and benefits with production companies, and specifies minimum wages. Actors and their employers are free to negotiate higher wages. The union is a member of the AFL-CIO and provides health and pension plans for its members.
As of 2013, the minimum pay for actors on Broadway is $1,754 per week. Minimum rates increass every year according to the contract until its expiration. The minimum rate may be increased if the cost-of-living rate in new York in Northeastern New Jersey goes up.
Actors also receive increments, which are increases to salary that reward extra responsibility, or compensate for inconvenience or expenses. For example, actors in the chorus or in a specialty part get an additional $20 per week, as of 2013. If selected as an understudy, she gets an additional $45 weekly. A dance captain receives an additional $350 per week. Roles with higher-than-average risks receive an additional $20 per week, and those who have to move a set piece earn an additional $8 per week. All actors in musicals, except those making more than $4,000 per week, are entitled to a media fee that covers use of the actor’s image on websites, TV commercials or other publicity material. 114) That fee is an additional $35 per week. (REFERENCE 4)
The Equity contract defines the working conditions and benefits for Broadway actors. For example, the names of all actors in a cast must appear on house boards in front of the theater or in the lobbhy, within letters at least half-inch high. The playbill or program given to all patrons must have the names of all principal and chorus actors with biographies that are approved by the actor. Production companies must pay a set amount per actor into an Equity health fund. However, companies do not pay salaries if an actor becomes ill and cannot perform a role.
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