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Professionalism: Unions, Guilds & Associations (Collective Bargaining)

Members of these professional theatrical unions/guilds/associations live here in Austin. (A union is a collective bargaining organization for employees. A guild is a collective bargaining organization for independent contractors. An association is a trade and/or collective bargaining organization for producers and producing entities.) Click on an organization name to learn more about it, and the role it plays in our theatre ecosystem.

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 AEA union contracts:

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

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

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

• The Mary Moody Northen Theatre (St. Edward’s Univ.) offers a University Resident Theatre Association (URTA) and/or Guest Artist Agreement contract.

For Equity actors wishing to work in a non-Equity theatre, log into the AEA website to download and present the "How To Hire Me" letter located here. This letter, used nation-wide, was originally created here in Austin by AEA Stage Manager Bill McMillin. Bill serves as the Actors Equity Community Group Leader for Austin/San Antonio and has long served on several national committees. He can answer any questions you may have about AEA, and can be emailed here. The Actors Equity business representative for our area is Jonathan Palmiotti. He can be reached at 312-641-0393, ext. 361 or emailed here

SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild + American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) is a union

that does not focus on live theatre, but rather screen television and radio. It is part of the Associated

Actors and Artistes of America, and is a sister-union to AEA. When you see SAG-AFTRA in an actor’s

theatre bio, it means they also do screen acting, voice-overs, commercials, or 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.

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.

The Casting Society of America (CSA) is a professional society 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 ("The Guild") 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.

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.

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


The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) unionizes 150,000 technicians, artisans,

and craftspersons 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 and consists of numerous local charters that function autonomously, including IATSE

Local 829 (USA; or United Scenic Artists)IATSE Local 18032 (ATPAM; or the Association of Theatrical Press Agents & Managers), and IATSE Local 205 (Austin TX Charter).

United Scenic Artists (Local USA 829) 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.

The Broadway League ("The League") is a collective bargaining association comprised of 700-

plus members including theatre owners and operators, producers, presenters, and general

managers in North American cities, as well as suppliers of goods and services to the commercial

theatre industry. Broadway, and most touring Broadway productions are unionized— the League is responsible for negotiating agreements with 14 different unions including AEA, SDC, and IATSE, amongst others.


League of Resident Theatres (LORT) is a collective bargaining association comprised of 78 member

theatres, which make up all of Broadway's non-profit theatres, and America's most famous and

largest producing regional theatres. LORT Theatres collectively issue more Equity contracts to

actors than Broadway and commercial tours combined— in addition to agreements maintained

with SDC and Local USA 829.

The University Resident Theatre Association (URTA) is a theatre training and development association

comprised of 47 member theatres. To that end, URTA has grown to include many programs and services

including undergraduate & apprentice audition and interview conferences, artist engagement services

and collective bargaining with unions including AEA, SDC, and Local USA 829 allowing union artists to

work with training theatre students in collegiate-level productions.

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