Unions, Guilds & Professionalism

Members of these professional theatrical unions/guilds/associations live here in Austin. (A guild is a collective bargaining organization for independent contractors. A Union is a collective bargaining organization for employees.) Click each union name to learn more.

Actors Equity Association (AEA) This union represents actors and stage managers. Approximately 180 AEA members call Austin home. Theatres hiring through AEA contracts must maintain union-specified working conditions, schedules and pay, and contribute to union health & pension funds. The following Austin theatres offer union contracts: 

• ZACH Theatre offers a Letter of Agreement ref. to League of Resident Theatres (LORT) contract.

• Austin Playhouse offers a Small Professional Theatre (SPT) contract.

• Austin Shakespeare offers a Small Professional Theatre (SPT) contract.

• St. Edward’s University offers University Resident Theatre Association and/or Guest Artist Agreement contracts.

For Equity actors wishing to work in a non-Equity theatre, log into AEA website to download and present the How To Hire Me letter located here: https://members.actorsequity.org/resources/h2hm/. This letter, now used nation-wide, was originally created here in Austin by AEA Stage Manager Bill McMillin. Bill serves as Co-Chair of the Austin/San Antonio AEA Liaison Committee and on several national committees. He is glad to answer any questions you may have about AEA, and can be emailed here.

The Casting Society of America (CSA) is a professional organization open to casting directors and casting associates, and was established a recognized standard of professionalism in the casting field. Formerly know as the American Society of Casting Directors, this roughly 1000-member organization has members based in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and Africa. It serves as a resource for producers, directors and creative teams who seek casting professionals. 

Directors Guild of America seeks to protect directorial teams’ legal and artistic rights, contend for their creative freedom, and strengthen their ability to develop meaningful and credible careers. (This union is largely for television and film, but some theatre people are members, too.)

Dramatists Guild of America is the national, professional membership trade association of theatre writers including playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists. The Guild was established for the purpose of aiding dramatists in protecting both the artistic and economic integrity of their work."

IATSE (The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) unionizes people who work behind the scenes in all forms of live theater, motion picture and television production, trade shows and exhibitions, television broadcasting, and concerts — as well as the equipment and construction shops that support all these areas of the entertainment industry. It was founded in 1893.

Producer’s Guild of America is a non-profit trade organization that represents, protects and promotes the interests of all members of the producing team in film, television and new media.

SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild + American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) is a union that does not focus on live theatre. However, many actors are members of both AEA and SAG-AFTRA, and links between the two industries are strong. When you see SAG-AFTRA in an actor’s theatre bio, it means they also do screen acting, voice-overs, commercials, etc. 

Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) is the theatrical union that unites, empowers, and protects professional Stage Directors and Choreographers throughout the United States. It fosters a national community of professional stage directors and choreographers by protecting the rights, health and livelihoods of members; negotiating and enforcing employment agreements across a range of jurisdictions; facilitating the exchange of ideas, information and opportunities; and educating current and future generations about the critical role of directors and choreographers in leading the field.

United Scenic Artists is a labor union and professional association of Designers, Artists, Craftspeople, and Department Coordinators, organized to protect craft standards, working conditions and wages for the entertainment and decorative arts industries. The members of Local USA 829 work in film, theatre, opera, ballet, television, industrial shows, commercials and exhibitions.

Writers Guild of America (WGA) is a labor union composed of the thousands of writers who write the content for television shows, movies, news programs, documentaries, animation, and Internet and new media.

American Federation of Musicians (AFM) is the largest union of musicians in the world. Members perform in orchestras, backup bands, festivals, clubs and theaters—both on Broadway and on tour. AFM members also make music for films, TV, commercials and sound recordings.