The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle (LADCC) has issued the following statement on behalf of the current situation regarding the current proposed changes by Actors Equity Association (AEA) to the Los Angeles intimate theatre community:
the dispute over the Los Angeles theater’s 99-Seat Plan nears a crisis point, with a new policy set to be unilaterally imposed by Actors Equity Association (AEA) in December, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle would appreciate all concerned, including the U.S. District Court, to take notice of its Resolution of February 2015, slightly shortened below.
If the pending changes are allowed to take effect, the immediate impact on the community of greater Los Angeles, as well as on its actors and other theater artists, would be deleterious and probably irreversible. Many companies, a good number of them operating productively for 10 to 30 years, have already had to cancel planned productions and have been unable to do essential long-range planning in this uncertain environment where they may have no viable future. Los Angeles’ most dedicated theater actors will be deprived of their free expression and realization of their craft, under circumstances that pose no genuine threat to the interests of AEA and contrary to their overwhelmingly expressed desire to continue to do so.
We urge that the current system be maintained in place until the issues in controversy are resolved to avoid irreparable harm to the public, the artistic community, the related businesses and the quality of civic life in the region.
From February 2015:
Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle views the impending changes of policy concerning the small theaters of the greater Los Angeles area with alarm. We are concerned that the inevitable result of such changes will be a drastic reduction in the amount and quality of local theater. Indeed, we foresee what could be the demise of Los Angeles as a leading incubator of plays and theater of innovation and diversity.
As critics, we are the front lines of the audience. Thus, we are keenly aware of the importance of small theaters and the actors who perform at them to the cultural ecosystem of Los Angeles as a major metropolitan center for the arts. Our institutional theaters and touring roadshows provide a valuable and popular service, but they alone do not and cannot provide the vast spectrum of forms of expression which a great city requires. Within that spectrum, live theater plays an essential role.
Under current proposals, nearly all of the winners of our Margaret Harford Award for sustained excellence over the past dozen years – our highest honor – would be threatened with closure or, at best, severely curtailed activities. A majority of the shows recognized in our annual nominations and awards would likely have never been produced. Worse, the future would promise a vastly constricted, less diverse, less venturesome, less exciting and relevant theater scene.
The cultural loss would be incalculable, affecting the hundreds of productions staged annually in Los Angeles. The economic loss of all the businesses interdependent on that production output is calculable, but even without the numbers being run, we believe the net impact on the city could be catastrophic.
The current situation is urgent and dire. When an historic piece of eminent architecture is destroyed, a natural resource despoiled, or a species goes extinct, the loss is irreplaceable. Once the infrastructure that undergirds the best of Los Angeles small theater is forced out of existence, it cannot, realistically, be resurrected.