History: The Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) is the labor union of professional theatrical performers and stage managers. Founded in 1913, it negotiates contracts and agreements, arbitrates contract disputes, regulates the importation of alien actors, regulates charges by theatrical agents, provides a pension plan and welfare fund, and otherwise assists the theatrical industry. The union initiated a boycott of segregated theatres in 1947, targeting the National Theatre in Washington, DC. Subsequently Equity’s policies against segregation were extended to all theatres that discriminated against either performers or patrons with regard to race, color or creed. In recent years this principle has been extended to include discrimination on sexual preference or political persuasion or belief. In 1982, Equity adopted an affirmative action policy to increase employment opportunities for ethnic minorities and women. Ethnic Minorities and Women’s Committees were formed to facilitate these efforts.
Equity’s uncompromising support of its members who were affected by blacklisting and other forms of official and informal persecution during the McCarthy era was almost unique in the entertainment industry and among labor unions in general. Actors’ Equity Foundation, the union’s benevolent association, supports a theatre grants program, while a credit union provides credit and financial services to members. The Foundation also aids theatres suffering unforeseen catastrophes, contributes to the Actors’ Fund of America, the charitable arm of the theatrical unions, and funds certain worthy theatrical projects.
Sources: The Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. “Guide to the Actors’ Equity Association Records.” Last modified January 2020. http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/tamwag/wag_011/bioghist.html.
Total Size: 339 linear feet
APA-related Size: 3 linear feet
Languages of materials: English
Location: Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University
Bibliographic Control: finding aid
Finding Aid Link: http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/tamwag/wag_011/
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