IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR PERFORMERS VOLUNTEERING WITH NMI
New Musicals Inc. (d.b.a The Academy for New Musical Theatre and the Academy Repertory Company) is a developmental organization that regularly uses musical theatre performers to take part in the development of new works of musical theatre through cold readings, table readings, workshops, concert readings, developmental productions, and world premieres.
In general, developmental presentations done on the NMI premises are intended for the edification of the writers. They’re presented on a VOLUNTEER basis and there is no remuneration to the performer. Typically the audience is by invitation only, with no admission fee charged and no memorization is required of the actors.
On some occasions, NMI will undertake developmental work that will result in a public performance, either for a ticketed amount or on a donation basis. These performances are still presented on a VOLUNTEER basis; although in some instances we are able to reimburse artists for expenses incurred, up to a pre-set limit.
New Musicals Inc. welcomes any volunteer, regardless of union status, and will treat all volunteers equally in all respects. In the interests of full disclosure, Actors Equity members should be aware that NMI is currently on AEA’s “Do Not Work” list (see Open Letter below for an explanation of how that happened); and that their union might not recognize the validity of our Volunteer Agreement, and volunteering with NMI might cause AEA to threaten disciplinary actions against AEA members, but that any consequences of choosing to volunteer with NMI shall be borne solely by the actor.
To the right, you will find links to two documents: 1) NMI’s Volunteer Agreement; and 2) The Standards and Practices document developed by the Theatrical Producers’ League of Los Angeles (TPLLA) for treatment of Volunteer Performers.
Below you will find a copy of the Open Letter NMI sent to the LA Theatre community, outlining our attempts to be classified by AEA as a Membership Company.
An UPDATE to our Open Letter to the LA Theatre Community
A Second Open Letter to the Los Angeles Theatre Community
from New Musicals Inc.
Last week New Musicals Inc. filed a charge against Actors Equity Association through the National Labor Relations Board. The charge centers upon unfair business practices, accusing AEA of placing New Musicals Inc. on a “Do Not Work” list without cause.
Actors Equity Association is demanding that its members do not engage with NMI, threatening union members with penalties, sanctions and possible expulsion from the union. By including NMI on a ‘Do Not Work’ list, we feel that AEA is attempting to cause NMI to discriminate against union members, encouraging them to refuse to perform any services for NMI, and requiring its members to cease doing business with NMI.
Actors Equity has contacted a number of actors appearing in NMI’s Fringe shows and threatened them with “disciplinary actions” which presumably includes fines, sanctions and even expulsion from the union. It’s causing a lot of heartbreaking situations in which actors are being told not to appear in our presentations. These are wonderful artists with a passion for new musicals, and for them to be frightened away because of their union is just unconscionable.
Our charges also include that Actors Equity Association’s inclusion of NMI on its “Do Not Work” list has resulted in damage to NMI, affecting its commerce, its public reputation, its standing in the Los Angeles theatre community, and its ability to fulfill its nonprofit mission.
As you know, many other membership companies in Los Angeles operate in a manner similar to our Academy Repertory Company, and they have not been placed on the ‘Do Not Work’ list. We believe that NMI is being treated unfairly and in a manner different from other similar organizations.
You might recall from our previous Open Letter in January 2017 that AEA keeps saying that the reason we’re being denied status as a membership company is that we didn’t apply under the name of the Academy Repertory Company. We don’t understand this. Our application included “Academy Repertory Company” right alongside our other dba’s, including the Academy for New Musical Theatre and New Musicals Inc. You might also recall from that we have requested meetings with AEA to discuss this situation on twelve separate occasions, and AEA has refused a meeting each time. We don’t know why the union is refusing to meet with us to this clear up. So we’ve turned to the NLRB for help.
The National Labor Relations Board has notified the union of the charges against it. As we understand it, the next steps will be for the NLRB to collect affidavits from our staff and colleagues and gather evidence and corroboration of our charges, at which time we can expect either dismissal, settlement or a trial. We’re hopeful that there will be a swift conclusion to this matter. We feel we’ve been treated very unfairly, and the fact that Equity has refused to meet with us…well, that just seems wrong.
We reiterate that we cherish all the artists we work with: writers, directors, music directors, stage managers, designers…and especially actors. We welcome theatre artists of every variety, you are all always welcome at the Academy Repertory Company, New Musicals Inc, and the Academy for New Musical Theatre, whether or not you’re a member of a union.
We would welcome your support, comments, and reactions. Post those in social media and send them to email@example.com. Let us know if you’d like your comments to be private.
In the meantime, NMI will continue its performances at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. (Search for “1001 Minutes of New Musicals” — that’s us!)
Thank you as always.
Scott Guy, Executive Director
Elise Dewsberry, Artistic Director
John Sparks, Founding Director
New Musicals Inc.
Academy for New Musical Theatre
Academy Repertory Company
An Open Letter to the LA Theatre Community
An Open Letter to the Los Angeles Theatre Community
from New Musicals Inc., the Academy Repertory Company, and The Academy for New Musical Theatre
It has come to our attention that Actors Equity has chosen to put us on the public “Do Not Work” list.
For the last year, we have been attempting to have the Academy Repertory Company (our member company that was established in 2003) designated as an official Member company. We have been denied that classification. Equity’s official reason for that denial was that we didn’t officially apply under the name “Academy Repertory Company”. According to Equity:
Your company was registered as New Musicals Inc./Academy for New Musical Theatre.
The demonstrably provable fact is that we registered all three of our branches in the same paperwork, including our Member Company, the Academy Repertory Company. But Equity seems to be determined to deny our repertory company’s status as a Membership Company by somehow invalidating our paperwork.
We have asked for a meeting with Gail Gabler and Allison Harma about our membership company on ten separate occasions over the past thirteen months, and Equity has refused to take a meeting with us on this subject on all ten occasions, insisting instead that we take a meeting with them to discuss the new minimum wage contract. We have, on each occasion, respectfully informed Equity that we have no intention of discussing the new minimum wage contract when we are clearly a Membership Company and our are joyful volunteers, and have been for 14 years.
Instead of agreeing to meet with us about our Membership Company status, and explain to us why they are insisting that our paperwork was incorrect when we can prove that it wasn’t, Equity has chosen to put us on the official and public “Do Not Work” list, exposing us to very real damage to our name and reputation in the Los Angeles theatre community.
Those of you with whom we have had the pleasure of reading and singing new musicals know how respectful we are of actors, stage managers and all theatre artists. Please continue to know that you are all always welcome at the Academy Repertory Company, New Musicals Inc and the Academy for New Musical Theatre, whether you’re a member of Equity or not.
Scott Guy, Executive Director
John Sparks, Founding Director
Elise Dewsberry, Artistic Director
New Musicals Inc.
The Academy for New Musical Theatre
The Academy Repertory Company
comments in support of NMI and ARC
The Academy for New Musicals (ANMT), also known as New Musicals Inc (NMI) has been an incredibly valuable resource for both playwrights and actors in Los Angeles. The company of actors, many of whom have belonged to ANMT/NMI for more than a decade, consider the organization indispensible both for career development and opportunities to be seen by myriad audiences. The actors are, in every sense, members of the organization with longstanding and loyal ties. For Equity to deny NMI the chance to even discuss the situation would be laughable if it weren’t harming so many people. I urge Equity to have a dialogue with NMI and reconsider their mistaken ruling.
I will always be available to work for you, AEA be damned. If need be, I will go financial core.
I am astonished that Equity is refusing to consult with such a magnificent and reputable membership company as NMI. Please let these people keep doing their great theater work! It’s a tough enough world for the arts, without Equity trying to put a stranglehold on good companies.
Once again, AEA’s actions are despicable, and inexplicable. While I’m so glad that I withdrew from AEA years ago, I’m angry that AEA is strangling the my L.A. theatre community. I have heard the plight of those at NMI over the months as this situation has developed and as they continued to try to get a meeting with AEA. There’s is no reasonable explanation why they have been denied the proper classification, or AT LEAST given a meeting to discuss the situation.
Actors Equity — which once was necessary to protect the rights of actors — is no longer about actors or equity, as proven by this deplorable situation. AEA is a bureaucracy, run by bureaucrats who have no interest in art or theatre or the real interests of their members. Of course everyone wants to be paid for his/her work, but in the peculiar geography of Los Angeles, small theatres simply can’t make enough to pay actors what they’re worth. If actors, in that situation, choose to volunteer their time and talent so that they can play the kinds of roles they NEED to play to grow in their art, why is their union determined to prevent them? In my opinion, every Equity actor in Los Angeles should simply resign from the union. Period. End of story.
I would say this is heartbreaking but that is of no concern to my union. My emotional well being (or that of any actor) is simply not of interest to AEA. New Musicals Inc is one of my absolute favorite places to work, collaborate, and help develop new works. The anger and disappointment I feel about the union that I so joyfully joined many years ago is staggeringly immeasurable at this point. To Elise, Scott, John, and all my friends and colleagues at NMI - I HATE what my union has put you (and all of us) through.
This is truly unbelievable! The actors who have willingly been in ANMT’s and now NMI’s company of performers are so loyal to the goal of NMI, the development of new musicals. To try to prevent this opportunity without further discussion seems patently unfair. Doors keep closing in LA theatre.
Outrageous. I am always here to work with you, and if they make you pay me, you’ll get all the money back as a charitable donation. They can make you pay me, but they can’t make me take it. Shame on them for not at least meeting with you and for invalidating your paperwork without a discussion. They can’t even talk with you about the error? Who is this union for? Proud of you and all the important work you do.
There was absolutely no clear criteria for what is considered a membership company. They said they could not speak to me about it either claiming it was because of the pending lawsuit. Once a decision had been made for any reason which seemed arbitrary, they would not change it. I think it is because they did not want to be open to any appeals. I have seen a ‘membership company’ listed that is simply a venue. But I see no way to fight it.
I remember how impressed (and thrilled) I was every time I did a show or reading with you because of the respect everyone had for each other and the strict adherence to Equity rules and regulations regarding rehearsal time, call time and breaks. Almost everything I’ve done since my ANMT days has had some connection to your organization via recommendation or continued relationship with various individuals I met during that time. Thank you.
I am so sorry all of that was going on. I had no idea. It is an excellent company that does an amazing service for the Musical Theatre Development community and I certainly would recommend anyone to try it out because of how well it’s run, how organized it is and how respectful it is. A top-notch team to work with.
I’m sorry that all of you are going through this! I felt nothing but respect and gratitude during the years I was a member of the Academy Repertory Company & ANMT.