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AEA Announces Changes to Showcase Codes

Jacob Coakley • Industry News • June 1, 2009

NEW YORK—Actors' Equity Association has made changes to its Basic and Seasonal Showcase Codes. The modifications made to the Codes reflect more flexibility in rehearsal time, an increase in budget caps for Basic Showcase to reflect today's economics, and create uniformity in rehearsal time for both Codes.

For the Seasonal Showcase, the annual gross income figure at which producers must use the Seasonal Showcase Code is increased to $60,000. Performances may now be held over six consecutive weeks for all tiers. Language has been added, clarifying the performance schedule of Seasonal Showcase Code productions. Maximum ticket prices for Seasonal Showcase productions have been increased to $25. The Season Showcase Code is only available to non-profit producers.

For the Basic Showcase Code, the maximum budget amount is increased to $35,000. This budget amount now excludes the reimbursement stipends paid to Equity members.

The Showcase Code was formulated in the ‘60s and was designed for actor showcases, in order to help them land an agent. But more and more innovative work has taken place Off-Off-Broadway, and smaller producers have found themselves in a bind. The Code had come under criticism for mandating low budgets and capping ticket prices, and placing limitations on how soon a remount of a show could be done. For many small, non-profit producers, the Code forced them into a bind: increasing the budget would require larger contracts with actors, which would then make the cost of producing prohibitive. However, as Garret Eisler reported in The Village Voice in 2007, Equity’s position was that “the code is not a contract and it’s not negotiated.” Which meant that any changes in the code couldn’t be made on a case-by-case basis, negotiating with producers, but would have to result from internal decision making by Actors Equity.

These changes were the result of the work conducted by the Equity Off-Off-Broadway Committee, which is comprised of AEA members in good standing who have worked under the code, some of whom have produced Code shows. The idea is that by increasing the budget, the length of time a show can run, and its maximum ticket price, smaller theatres can continue to innovate and drive new talent into larger and more lucrative careers—the same intent the code was founded on.

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