jakub | March 11, 2024

AMERICAN THEATRE | Chicago Theatres Sign New Equity Agreement

CHICAGO: Actors’ Equity Association and Producers’ Association of Chicago Area Theatres (PACT), an association of 21 Chicago area theatres operating under the Chicago Area Theatre contract, announced that they have ratified a new four-year agreement.

The new agreement will implement systemic changes aimed at enabling Chicago theatre artists to make a sustained living and providing producers with the runway needed to implement those changes in a sustainable way. The new agreement includes wage increases for actors and stage managers over the term of the contract. The agreement also includes new benefits from larger theatres to support sustainable careers for artists who work there, and it advances discrimination and harassment protections for reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare. Over the term of the contract, stage managers should also see “across the board” improvements to their work-life balance. 

“We knew our employers shared our goal of making the pursuit of a career in Chicago theatre a viable choice, and we stuck to our vision of how to make that possible,” said Wydetta Carter, 1st vice president of Actors’ Equity Association and chair of the Chicago Area Theatre Negotiating Team, in a statement. “Our members working in CAT theatres are entering fairer and safer workplaces, and that’s what it’s all about.”

In the 2022-2023 season, Equity members cumulatively earned nearly $3.5 million on the Chicago Area Theatre (CAT) Agreement. As one of Equity’s largest regional contracts, the new CAT agreement follows negotiations that began at the end of September 2023. This is the first major update to the CAT Agreement since 2018.

“As we continue to navigate the challenging times that we still face as an industry post-pandemic, we appreciate our partners at Equity working with us side by side to provide time and space so needed for recovery but also to work collectively and strategically on a healthy path forward for everyone,” said Kate Lipuma, president of PACT and executive director of Writers Theatre, in a statement.

Founded in 1913, Actors’ Equity Association 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). 

PACT represents 21 professional Chicago area theatres in their collective bargaining discussions with Equity, operating under the Chicago Area Theatre (CAT) contract. The CAT agreement is a tiered contract used in theatres with a capacity of 900 seats or fewer within 35 miles from the Chicago city limits and covers both commercial and nonprofit theatres.

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