To the Los Angeles Performing Arts Community,
In light of the recent proposal from Actors Equity Association regarding changes to the 99-Seat Plan, we hope to provide some additional context to the conversation and offer our ongoing support to the community.
LA STAGE Alliance believes in the transformative power of theater, and all of the performing arts. We work to strengthen the cultural infrastructure of Greater Los Angeles so that more people are able to experience the magic and alchemy happening on stages throughout our incredible region. We aim to build awareness, appreciation and support for the performing arts community with programs and services for audiences, artists and administrators.
For those who don’t know our history, LA STAGE has its origins in two separate organizations: The Los Angeles Theatre Alliance, a service organization founded in 1975, and The League of Producers and Theatres of Greater Los Angeles, a trade association founded in 1983. Starting in 1988, the two companies functioned as a single organization, sharing staff and office space. In 1993, the League formally dissolved and donated its assets to the Alliance (renamed Theatre LA, then LA STAGE Alliance in 2003).
As we have evolved as an organization, we’ve offered programs and services to the community based on the current environment and available resources. We are proud of our ability to maintain partnerships with a broad and diverse group of entities that have included:
Los Angeles Times
Target Resource Group
Community Redevelopment Agency/Los Angeles
Arts for LA
Los Angeles County Arts Commission
City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
Dance Resource Center
The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation
The Sherwood Award
In 2009, we held a series of roundtable conversations to identify the current needs, issues and challenges within the community. As a direct result of those conversations we convened a Producers Task Force meeting in September 2011 with representatives from intimate, midsize and larger theaters. At the request of those producers, the Review Committee and Actors Equity Association, we began a broad community- wide conversation within the 99-Seat theater community.
It was clear to us that these groups needed to have further conversation. It was also clear that, if any changes were to be made to the 99-Seat Plan — which were rumored at the time — LA would need the return of a Producers League. LA STAGE, as an Alliance, was not in a position to be in negotiation with a union, but could serve as an outside neutral convener and partner to all entities.
(Full disclosure, we have received financial support from Actors Equity Association for many years as a sponsor of the Ovation Awards ceremony, but we, as an organization, have not been involved with any of the recent meetings or conversations about the changes to the 99-Seat Plan.)
Starting in April of 2012, we facilitated and provided logistics for no fewer than 42 community meetings leading to the formation of the Theatrical Producers League of Los Angeles (TPLLA), its transition committee, and the election of their first slate of officers. We believed that LA not only needed, but deserved, a trade association to support our robust, diverse producorial landscape. When the recent proposal was released from AEA, we reached out to our colleagues at TPLLA and offered our assistance.
We urge all parties of the Los Angeles theatrical community to be engaged in the conversations that could change our cultural fabric and landscape of creative abundance.
Members of Actors Equity are encouraged to be informed and participate in the process around the new proposed plan.
Producers, actors and community members are encouraged to participate in the Town Hall meeting convened by TPLLA on February 21.
Our cultural landscape is a complex one.
The 2014 State of the Nonprofit Sector in Los Angeles report from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Center for Civil Society stated that there are 3017 Arts, Culture and Humanities Non-Profits in Los Angeles County, and that the majority of those operate with budgets of $75,000 or less. At that budget level, it’s clear that volunteerism is a huge component and often an underreported aspect of our community’s reality.
This data point inspired our current research project, in partnership with TPLLA, to better understand the existing business models within the 99-Seat theater community. The project is being supported by the Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, and we expect to share results at LA STAGE Day on May 16 at Cal State LA.
We will also share the first National Arts Census Report, comparing the over four million unique households who participate in Arts & Culture at over 250 arts organizations in our region with the audiences from communities around the country.
We cannot predict what will happen next in our community, but we can promise that we will continue to support LA’s wealth of artists, audiences and administrators to the best of our ability. We are in it for the long haul. We thank the community for continuing to inspire us with their incredible passion, commitment and integrity.
Chief Executive Officer
LA STAGE Alliance
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Chair, Board of Governors
LA STAGE Alliance