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, 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 happy to answer any questions you may have about AEA, and can be emailed here.
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
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.