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Actors’ Equity and SAG-AFTRA reach agreement over streaming theater

Actors’ Equity and SAG-AFTRA have reached an agreement over coverage of streamed and recorded theater.

Actors’ Equity and SAG-AFTRA have reached an agreement over coverage of streamed and recorded theater.

The new agreement, announced late Thursday, states that during the pandemic Actors’ Equity may sign contracts with theaters for recorded live theater and readings, so long as the work appears on restricted viewing platforms and has limits on the audience size. The pandemic period is defined as ending Dec. 31, 2021.

The two unions reached an agreement through mediation after a bitter and public dispute. Equity had accused SAG-AFTRA of taking over its traditional contracts with theaters and negotiating lower-paying deals for streaming work. SAG-AFTRA said that any work made for broadcast fell under its jurisdiction.

Per the pandemic agreement, Equity has jurisdiction if the work will be exhibited on a platform that is only available to ticket holders or subscribers of the theater. SAG-AFTRA continues to have purview over work that is exhibited on paid streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu and Disney +.

The digital audience for the streamed or recorded work cannot exceed 200% of the size of the theater over the course of the run of the production, or 300% in theaters with fewer than 350 seats. It may only remain on the platform for three months or less.

The work under Equity contracts may include live readings, staged readings, live theater and “other performances in the general nature of theater,” according to the agreement. During the pandemic, SAG-AFTRA pledged to refer work of that nature to Equity.

The unions had reached a tentative agreement on Nov. 14 that was approved unanimously Thursday by the SAG-AFTRA National Board of Directors and Actors’ Equity Association National Council.

“This collaborative mediation process allowed the parties to come to the table and reach a solution that serves the best interests of all members,” Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity, wrote in an email to members. “The agreement reaffirms the historic solidarity and deep bonds between Equity and SAG-AFTRA and our members.”