Author Topic: Paying for parking  (Read 6134 times)

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MileHighSM

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Paying for parking
« on: Jan 26, 2007, 12:09 pm »
I would love some advice on this situation.  I'm currently working as an un-paid grad student P.A. for a regional theatre that works with a very large seasonal budget.  We are rehearsing off site (I am being reimbursed for mileage) due to lack of space because of other shows using the spaces.  When the show moves down to its performance venue this weekend for tech and beyond, I was told I might have to pay for parking, which is *ten dollars* a day.  As an un-paid PA, I refuse to do this.  Would it be entirely inappropriate to tell stage management that I cannot do the show unless I am provided with a ride to and from the theatre free of charge or they get this taken care of?  I know they're working on it as it affects everyone.  I would assume our Union cast members will throw a fit and ultimately the Union will step in and tell management they have to take care of this.  I just don't want to get screwed in some way because I'm a non-Union P.A.  Please help!  Any ideas?

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Re: Paying for parking
« Reply #1 on: Jan 26, 2007, 12:17 pm »
It does seem odd that they would expect you to lose money in order to work on the show. You mentioned that Stage Management is working on the issue, so I would quietly and calmly let them know of your concerns and your inability to lose money on the venture and see what they can arrange. No one likes to pay for parking but not all Equity contracts provide for it... It is sometimes a fact of life.

Let us know what happens.

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Vernon
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Aerial

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Re: Paying for parking
« Reply #2 on: Jan 26, 2007, 01:21 pm »
I agree that you should share your concerns (especially as an unpaid member of the team). Are there any alternatives to the really expensive parking? I also work for a large regional theatre as a PA (albiet paid), and we do not have parking provided for us, so most days I walk a half mile from the unregulated street parking on the other side of the highway from the main downtown area.  It sucks in the winter, but its free.

Rebbe

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Re: Paying for parking
« Reply #3 on: Jan 26, 2007, 02:13 pm »
I feel your pain.  Parking sucks.  But so does paying for gas, getting your oil changed, and replacing a flat tire.  Still, anyone with a car to drive and a work place to get to in it  needs to plan for these expenses.  I don’t think you’re entitled to free parking, regardless of the company’s size or budget.  Getting to and from the theater is up to you, just like it’s up to you to be there on time.  If the theater can help you with parking or transportation, that’s a huge bonus to be thankful for, but it’s certainly not a given. 

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When the show moves down to its performance venue this weekend for tech and beyond, I was told I might have to pay for parking, which is *ten dollars* a day. As an un-paid PA, I refuse to do this.
“Refuse” is a pretty strong word.  You’ll probably be better off politely asking for suggestions and solutions to your potential problem before issuing an ultimatum.  If there’s been a change in the parking situation, you have a better chance of getting some help than if you just didn’t ask/find out about it sooner.

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I would assume our Union cast members will throw a fit and ultimately the Union will step in
As an Equity SM, only once have I had my parking covered by a theater.  During daytime rehearsals, I usually take mass transit.  During tech and performances, I take my chances with street parking and figure a ticket or two is just the cost of doing business.  I’ve never worked in a situation where all actors had parking covered; it’s usually something they need to negotiate individually.  As a non-eq, I also never had parking covered by the theater.

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Would it be entirely inappropriate to tell stage management that I cannot do the show unless I am provided with a ride to and from the theatre free of charge or they get this taken care of?
If you phrase it like that…yes, inappropriate.  You can certainly tell your SM that you are very sorry, but cannot afford the cost of parking, so you’ll have to resign your position with the show.  They may be unhappy, but if your work has been stellar up to that point, they could still hire you again.  But demanding that the SM fix your problem is ineffective, and won’t make you look good at all.  Besides, the SM in a large theater doesn’t usually control the budget; it would probably be up to the Production Manager to try to figure something out. 
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)

Jessie_K

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Re: Paying for parking
« Reply #4 on: Jan 26, 2007, 03:09 pm »
I have to side with Rebbe on this one.

Most people (theatre or not) pay for their own to-and-from work travel- subway fares, gas, parking, oil etc. 

Sometimes companies are generous and reimburse you for your travel in some way.  But not all and you certainly can't demand that of a company.

OldeWolf

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Re: Paying for parking
« Reply #5 on: Jan 26, 2007, 07:06 pm »
I often work at a community college theater where our actors PAY to be in our student productions. I pay for my parking, just like they do. In the summer, when the professional company rents the theater, I'm paid a stipend, and because we are on campus I usually get a comp parking pass, but if the lot is full, I park in the metered area or walk half a mile from the remote lot.

At the Shakespeare company on the University campus the parking is $5.50 a day. I keep all of my receipts and will claim them on my taxes as work related.

At the community theater where I'm currently Stage Managing we wrangle with the public for a few parking meters with Two Hour Total limits--and all of us on crew play musical parking stalls until the restriction lifts at 8 p.m.

I live 20 miles from these theaters and with the cost of fuel I frequently spend more to get there than I earn on a production. While this is obviously not my "day job" YET, it is what I hope to do to support myself in the future. Until that happens, I consider what it costs to get there, to park, to be there instead of somewhere else earning more money, as part of earning my Chops. I'm getting the experience I need to be able to present myself as a seasoned professional who is ready to step into a career professional theater where I may get a parking pass, or at least a salary that makes paying for travel and parking a little less painful. 

Perhaps there is a remote parking solution that will save you some money up front, public transportation to get you to your theater (save those receipts) or a car pool that will help you cut your costs so that you can afford to keep the position and learn what you are there to learn. 

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megf

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Re: Paying for parking
« Reply #6 on: Jan 26, 2007, 07:24 pm »
Rebbe and scoot - I fully appreciate your comments. I think, however, that GradSM's post may have been written in a tone that the poster does not use when communicating formally or directly with the rest of the team. My reading of the OP is that this issue has caused concern and not inconsiderable discomfort, but has yet to snowball within the production context.

GradSM, I have been in similar situations. Granted, when I worked as a student PA, it was in a city where parking is affectionately referred to as HELL (read: Los Angeles). After I raised my concerns - quietly, gently, off-line - with the Company Manager, he looked into finding me parking. What we came up with was a limited parking pass - I could park on any levels that had "blue zones," meaning stairs-only access. While this did mean that I had to schlep up the stairs each time I left the theater on an errand and again at the end of the day, my car was closer than it would have been had I used the closest free street parking (which was a mile away, across a major boulevard). The limited pass was also, from what I understand, considerably cheaper than the other passes.

Here's a little brainstorming: if you are being reimbursed for mileage... that might be a way to work out a compromise. How about ditching the mileage and getting a fixed stipend for parking? Unless you're commuting 60+ miles in a truck, chances are that this will be a little more than the gasoline, but won't sound quite so much like kvetching about nickels and dimes.

I would strongly discourage you from making any threat-like statements... you are a student, and may be associated with this regional company directly through your school. Throwing around ultimatums will NOT earn you points, and may very well damage your prospects with the company and in the program at large. As a student, you are also probably receiving some form of financial aid or grant/loan monies; if the regional company does not have the protocol or resources to cover your parking, you might check in with the counselors at your school about scholarships for students who are working in the field. You never know when some $500 Rotary thing will show up.

Regarding scoot's comment about contracts - yes, do always read it. Twice, at least. I try to find a hard copy for my files, and, if possible, an e-copy so I can search quickly for terms if necessary. The glitch with this can be that many organizations do not have a cut-and-dried PA contract - it's pretty much whatever they need you to do, and unless there's some special agreement, the only official paperwork you'll get, ultimately, is a W-2. Questions about parking, travel, gasoline, food, housing if applicable, should all (always!!) happen in the interview.

Let us know how this is resolved.

Best,

Meg

MileHighSM

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Re: Paying for parking
« Reply #7 on: Jan 26, 2007, 07:40 pm »
Thanks to everyone who responded.  However, I will be more careful about what I vent about on here as this may not have been the best place for this topic and I shouldn't have posted when I was frustrated.  Please understand I am a very hard worker, I'm just completely broke (living on bare minimum student loans) and don't think it's fair that un-paid grad students be taken advantage of.  We're not on contracts, we get assigned to work on these shows.  Anyway...I will certainly bear in mind what was said.

SMJorge

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Re: Paying for parking
« Reply #8 on: Jan 28, 2007, 11:44 pm »
I realize this may not be much comfort, but 10 dollars a day is not too horrible to pay for parking. It's true it sucks to pay for parking but think of it as an investment in your future. And remember you don't want to burn any bridges. EVER! This theatre world is all too small and its really not worth it.

KC_SM_0807

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Re: Paying for parking
« Reply #9 on: Jan 30, 2007, 12:53 am »
First of all, I think that GradSM has a valid question and is asking for advice.  Although we appreciate all suggestions and advice, I do think that some of the responses have been quite harsh.  I encourage everyone to think about being respectful and considerate before they reply to another person's post.  I will not tolerate anyone being rude or disrespectful in this forum.  We are all artists here looking for helpful suggestions and comments.

First of all, I completely understand.  Where I'm from, paying $10 for parking anywhereis unheard of.  Although I realize that places vary and that there are different costs of living and expenses, I still think that's a little much.  I'm sure it seems almost too much considering that you are working in an unpaid position.  I encourage you to explore all of your options: politely talk to the Stage Manager and see if there is anything that can be done.  Perhaps there is a way to have a special place for you to park with a discount.  Also, although I understand the comfort of driving somewhere in your own car, consider public transportation or even carpooling and splitting the cost.  Is there somewhere else you could park and walk to the theatre? Of course you do not need to march up to the SM and tell them that you refuse to come back tomorrow unless you get free parking.  That would be unrealistic.  However, really look at all the options available to you and explore every possibility.  I'm sure that there is something you can do or come up with.  Just be polite and really convey your point when speaking to someone about it, and maybe you will be successful.  If not, then as I said, look for other options.  If there is absolutely nothing else that you can do, then just stick it out.  It's hard I know, but in the long run the experience of the job will hopefully outweigh the negative aspects of paying for parking.  Best of Luck to you  :)
"Perhaps, therefore, Stage Managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds."

Canuck

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Re: Paying for parking
« Reply #10 on: Jan 30, 2007, 02:32 pm »
I know some of these ideas have been in others posts, but they are definitely worth repeating.  As a former broke BFA student myself - looking for those "hidden" scholarships/burseries at your school or local arts foundation can be a boost to your funds.  I know at my school there were so many different ones available that no one really knew about so basically they got awarded to whomever discovered them that year! 

Keeping your receipts is another big thing too.  I know it totally sucks to have to pay that much, but it can be deductable come tax time.  (Although as a student on a school project, you might not qualify - depending on the tax laws in your area.  Talk to an accountant who knows - you can usually call one up and get that sort of info for free.)  Most areas that I know of you can claim your mileage, parking, and costs of public transportation, for this you usually have to keep your receipt and some form of proof like the bus pass/transfer/ticket.  Talking to an accountant who is familiar with preparing taxes for self-employed artists can open up you up to getting large refunds and using your student tax credits wisely.

Look into carpooling too, I believe that some states have incentive programs for carpooling and such.  I'm sure you could also find someone within your company who is feeling the same way about the cost of parking, and doesn't it sound much better if there's two of you in the car and parking is then five dollars apiece?

One of the biggest skills we have as SM's is our ability to find alternatives to situations.  Sit down, come up with some alternatives that may or may not work.  Then you can talk to your SM and get their perspective.  This will make you look good in their eyes as someone who has taken a hard personal situation and looked at thoroughly and is now trying to figure out the best way to make it work.  You express your concerns, but show that you are open to finding a solution that allows you to continue to work on the production without foregoing on necessities like food!

Hope you can find something that works for you!

Balletdork

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Re: Paying for parking
« Reply #11 on: Jan 30, 2007, 02:45 pm »
By the by- There is no public parking at or even nearby any of the venues my company performs at- everyone must pay for parking... or take public transit.

Good luck!

centaura

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Re: Paying for parking
« Reply #12 on: Jan 30, 2007, 03:46 pm »
I agree with the comments on first - trying to find an alternate way in, and then second, bringing up your concerns with the SM or the PM.  I had a situation where my car was repeatedly broken into (we're assuming my car was targeted for its out of state plates) in the lot that the theatre had parking, to the point I was uncomfortable parking my car there.  It got worked out that I could park my car in the loading dock or at a bagged meter (they had bags for their meters for their school shows).  While that was an unusual situation, and I was the only exception to the 'can't park in the dock' rule, it did work out.  I was a contract tour person, only in town for a month, so it was an equitable situation for all.

-Centaura

MileHighSM

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Re: Paying for parking
« Reply #13 on: Jan 30, 2007, 09:51 pm »
Hey everyone.  Meg asked to keep you posted, so it's resolved.  We do have to carpool, but no one has to pay.   :)

KC_SM_0807

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Re: Paying for parking
« Reply #14 on: Jan 31, 2007, 02:42 pm »
Awesome!!

Glad you were able to work it all out.  :)
"Perhaps, therefore, Stage Managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds."

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