Author Topic: How to join AEA  (Read 4175 times)

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How to join AEA
« on: Sep 25, 2007, 08:59 am »
AEA is the American union of actors and stage managers.  It offers a ton of benefits, including regulated pay scales, mandatory breaks, health insurance, and a credit union.

Joining AEA ("Equity") is the threshold step in the eyes of many performing groups that separates the amateur stage manager from the professional.

 However, once you are a member, you are no longer allowed to work for companies that do not sign union contracts.  It is an often-times difficult decision to make.  Non-union companies generally play to smaller houses and pay far less, but are also the home of some of the more adventurous work being produced in the modern theatre world.  Equity houses will earn your bread and butter, but often have to sacrifice the adventurousness of their repertoire for more audience-friendly material that will fill the seats.

Equity has recently redone their page at to include their rulebooks and steps for joining the union, as well as many other useful tidbits about the organization.  I've snagged their membership process from the site to repost here, but I strongly encourage you to stop by their page for further information.

From the AEA homepage:

Initiation Fee:  $800

An actor or stage manager who meets one of the three eligibility requirements and pays $300 of the initiation fee within six months of filing an application will be granted full membership in the Association. Both membership status and any dues and fees previously paid are forfeited, however, if a performer fails to complete payment of the full $800 initiation fee within the two-year maximum time period. Contact the Membership Department for further details.

Eligibility Requirements:

Signing an Equity Contract. If you have been signed to one of the standard Equity contracts, you are eligible to join AEA from the date of the signing of the contract. However, certain LOA, SPT, TYA, and MINI contracts have additional requirements that must be met before applications can be accepted. Please check with the Business Representative for the agreement that covers your contract.

Membership Candidate Program. The Membership Candidate Program allows non-union actors and stage managers to credit their work toward Equity membership. After 50 weeks in accredited theaters, the registered Membership Candidate may join the union. Visit the Membership Candidate Department for more details. (SMNetwork note: This is also called the EMC program)

Open Door Admission. Eligibility is also available by virtue of one's membership in, and employment under, any of the sister unions. (SMNetwork note: The sister unions are SAG, AFTRA, AGMA, and AGFA.)  If you join Equity by means of a sister union affiliation, you must be a member in good standing of the sister union for at least a one-year period. In addition, you must have been employed under the jurisdiction of the sister union as a principal performer (or for at least three days work comparable to an "extra" player).


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