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Unions, legislation and the Arts
http://www.ballet-dance.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=15431
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Author:  trina [ Wed Feb 07, 2001 2:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

Babslight, as far as "abuses", I have no ideas about the ushers. I am only speaking from the standpoint of dancers/choreographers. I'm sure folks unionize for a variety of reasons; abuses being only one among them. My point being that every employee in the theatre (including the janitor, excuse me, sanitary engineer)is typically paid more than the dancers. I might add that EVERYONE in the artistic and adminstrative sides, are typically overworked.<BR>You raise a good point about touring and musician's expenses. If this is the case, how can big Broadway style shows go on tour; don'they run into the same musician problems,ie, expenses. Typcially, all their dancers AND musicians are unionized, if I'm not mistaken. How do they afford live musicans?<p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited February 07, 2001).]

Author:  Maggie [ Wed Feb 07, 2001 2:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

Good post, Trina. I'd like to know the answer to that question, also.<P>My own particular brand of curiosity gets aroused on this. It's not very relative, perhaps, to this discussion, but I'm intrigued as to how the rules can become so absurdly literal. I know why they do, of course, I'm just intrigued by the human element that can take it to absurdity. But then, there's also a warning not to drive with those windshield things in place, either, because there a people that probably would. When that little human element can be solved, then some (emphasized, some) of the union problems can be solved. Nah.

Author:  wordfox [ Wed Feb 07, 2001 4:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

Trina: Re - the touring Broadway shows.<P>If ballet companies could pretty much guarantee sold-out houses for six or more performances a week, for twenty, thirty or forty weeks in a row, as can the big musicals on tour, the pro-rata costs go way down.<P>It is when you have to lump all of the orchestra, tech, performing fees, and other costs for the six, seven or eight weeks of preparation onto three or four performances over a weekend; and not be sure of filling the house even then.<P>Broadway shows seem to fill houses wherever they go. In fact, a few years ago, a NY Times article talked about how shows like these are actually displacing local arts groups from their performing arts centers. The theatres can't afford to turn away a four or five week booking, and end up giving the best dates to out-of-towners. <P>Ironic, since most of these regional performing arts centers were built with the hope of encouraging the development of local companies. Economics being what they are, local governments are requiring greater accountability from the theatres in earning their keep, and the only way to do it is to book the attractions that bring in the audiences.

Author:  salzberg [ Wed Feb 07, 2001 7:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

The Broadway tours may be touring with just the conductor and concertmaster (and maybe one or two others) and using local musicians in each city.<P>NYCB's contract, however, says that the NYCB orchestra (the same people who didn't want to be contractually obligated to show up for performances) must play at all NYCB shows.

Author:  trina [ Wed Feb 07, 2001 9:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

Salzberg--this is my entire point. In the New York City BALLET, it's the MUSICIAN's union which has been able to write the ironclad contract which actually prohits the BALLET company from touring...due to high overhead!! That's it in a nutshell...it's fairly obvious,as if it wasnt'already, that the musicians' union is much more powerful than the dancers union. <BR>Wordfox...thanks for clarifying the Broadway show thingie..I thought it might be something like that. Also, those shows typically may charge more per ticket than the ballet, maybe?<p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited February 07, 2001).]

Author:  salzberg [ Thu Feb 08, 2001 3:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

Trina, almost <I>any</I> union is stronger than AGMA. The question is (or should be): what should be done about it?<P>Where union rules are excessive or abusive (musicians who don't have to show up for performances, IA rules that prohibit the stage manager's moving a prop 3", etc.) they should certainly be corrected (not that they will be), but we shouldn't criticize one group for being better organized and showing greater solidarity than another.<P>The problem, as you pointed out earlier, is that both management and labor know that if almost any given group of dancers doesn't want to work under the existing conditions, it would take the company approximately 3/10 of a second to replace them<P>------------------<BR>Jeffrey E. Salzberg, Lighting Designer<BR>This Day in Arts History: <A HREF="http://www.suncoast.quik.com/salzberg/arthist.htm" TARGET=_blank>http://www.suncoast.quik.com/salzberg/arthist.htm</A><BR>Online portfolio: <A HREF="http://www.suncoast.quik.com/salzberg" TARGET=_blank>http://www.suncoast.quik.com/salzberg</A> <P><BR><p>[This message has been edited by salzberg (edited February 08, 2001).]

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Feb 15, 2001 8:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

A dispute has arisen at the ROH over the treatment of a Union representative. I know nothing about the case, so cannot comment on the situation. <P>Strikes are uncommon now in the UK, so it will be interesting to see how this issue develops. I'm sure the headline about threat to opera is just the usual total ignorance of the fact that ballet takes place there as well. fingers crossed that justice can be done without disrupting the performances.<BR> <A HREF="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/UK/This_Britain/2001-02/opera150201.shtml" TARGET=_blank>http://www.independent.co.uk/news/UK/This_Britain/2001-02/opera150201.shtml</A>

Author:  trina [ Sat Feb 24, 2001 4:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

While I was doing my "power walk" today, I remembered an old joke: Question: "How many union technician's does it take to screw in a light bulb"? Answer : "Eight...one to do it, and seven to drink coffe, smoke, read the newspaper and "supervise"...ha! <BR>Please folks, no cards, letter or e-mails. That joke was actually told to me by an old boyfriend, who was himself a union lighting designer in NYC!

Author:  salzberg [ Sat Feb 24, 2001 4:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

Well, as long as we're telling "light bulb" jokes. . . .<P>Q: How many Managing Directors does it take to change a light bulb?<P>A: Can't we use one of the bulbs we already have?<P>=-=-=-=-=-<P>Q: How many interns does it take?<P>A: It doesn't matter; you'll have to do it over anyway.<P>=-=-=-=-=-<P>Q: How many dancers does it take?<P>A: It doesn't matter; they won't be in their light anyway.<BR>

Author:  wordfox [ Mon Feb 26, 2001 3:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

The version I heard revolved around Trina's version, but determined:<P> "one to hold the light bulb, and seven to turn the chair."

Author:  salzberg [ Mon Feb 26, 2001 8:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

Q: How many altos does it take to change a light bulb?<P>A: 5. One to change the bulb and 4 to whine, "It's too <I>high</I>. . . .!"

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Feb 26, 2001 9:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

Oh dear, oh dear. How did we get so far off topic...

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Feb 26, 2001 10:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

Not a lightbulb in sight!<P>An article which focusses on the poor working conditions and pay that E. European opera and ballet companies face when they come to the UK.<P>'A plague of bad opera Each year, UK taxpayers contribute £50 million towards our opera and ballet companies. So why, asks Rupert Christiansen, do we welcome so many overworked, underqualified troupes from abroad?'<P><BR> <A HREF="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=000148269364269&rtmo=kCN7eA7p&atmo=99999999&pg=/et/01/2/27/bmopra27.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=000148269364269&rtmo=kCN7eA7p<BR>&atmo=99999999&pg=/et/01/2/27/bmopra27.html</A> <P><BR><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited February 26, 2001).]

Author:  salzberg [ Tue Feb 27, 2001 2:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>In May, for instance, Polish State Opera of Wroclaw will perform La Boheme or Tosca 20 nights in a row, on a schedule that takes them by coach to 13 different cities - about four times heavier a load than any respected British company would ever agree to.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>A union contract, of course, would protect the performers from abuse such as this.<P>I'm not sure what the AGMA book says, but the Actors Equity contract mandates that the performers get one day off per week, except for the week immediately preceding the opening of the show.

Author:  salzberg [ Tue Feb 27, 2001 5:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Unions, legislation and the Arts

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><I>The version I heard revolved around Trina's version, but determined:<BR>"one to hold the light bulb, and seven to turn the chair."</I><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>(sigh) Wonderful. Another chair dance.<BR>

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