Theater News

Equity Opens Membership to Any Actor or Stage Manager Who's Been Paid for Work in the USA

Actors’ Equity Association has announced a major policy change that will make it easier for artists to join the union.

(image via Actors' Equity Association)
(image via Actors' Equity Association)

Actors' Equity Association has announced an unprecedented change to a longtime policy: It will now open membership to any actor or stage manager who has worked professionally in the United States. The change, according to the union, is effective immediately.

The new initiative is called ''Open Access," and will allow anyone who can demonstrate that they have received compensation while working as an actor or stage manager across the country to join the union. The eligibility period will extend for two years, with "application and down payment of initiation fee and any applicable reinstatement fees required by May 1, 2023," according to an announcement Equity posted on its website.

Open Access will also remove any restrictions on membership for international stage managers and actors, and will also allow former members and former applications to join or rejoin, with their previous initiation fee credited toward the new fees. In addition, all members will have three years to pay off the initiation fee.

Prior to this policy change, membership in Actors' Equity Association was limited only to performers and stage managers who have worked on Equity contracts, or were members of a sibling organization like SAG-AFTRA. Open Access was overwhelmingly passed by Equity council in an effort to expand access to membership and remove any exclusionary barriers in place that prevented people of color and people of other marginalized identities from joining.