Actors’ Equity Association Announces New Public Health Consultants

The Actors’ Equity Association has announced that a team of doctors led by Dr Mark Cunningham-Hill are the union’s new public health consultants, effective immediately. This team is also advising the American Guild of Music Artists and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society on COVID-19 safety.

“The past two years have shown that COVID-19 leaves no room for complacency; rather, we must strive to be ever more informed, responsive and nimble,” said Kate Shindle, President of the Actors’ Equity Association. . “We are grateful to Drs Cunningham-Hill, Welch and Anderson for stepping up their efforts as we continue to navigate this difficult time.

“The union would also like to express its sincere thanks to Dr. David Michaels. At the start of the pandemic, we knew we needed a partner and advisor who could understand and articulate not only science and data, but also the unique challenges of the type of work we do. Dr. Michaels was one of the first epidemiologists to consult for the industry, and for almost two years now he has been invaluable in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in theatre. We have nothing but gratitude for his time, kindness and expertise.”

Dr. Michaels made the following statement:

“I’m so proud to have played a role in keeping theater workers safe over the past year and a half. I’ve always enjoyed attending live theater, and being able to help the industry reopen has been so rewarding. , personally.

“I am taking on a new public health project that does not allow me to continue to devote the time to Equity that its members deserve. Yet I move forward knowing that the union is in good hands. I have worked with Mark and his team during the pandemic, and with their experience with AGMA and SDC, I know they are ready to dive in and continue to implement measures that will protect workers from arts during COVID-19. »

The new consulting team is:

Dr. Mark Cunningham-Hill led the response to SARS, MERS, Zika and Ebola for GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson and is now helping international and US businesses through this pandemic. A transformative senior executive and medical expert, his experience spans occupational medicine, wellness, mental well-being, work-life effectiveness, personal energy management, digital health technologies, occupational health and hygiene risk management and well building design.

Dr. Laura S. Welch is an occupational medicine specialist, board certified in internal medicine and occupational medicine, licensed to practice in DC and Maryland, and consultant. With more than 30 years of experience, she has the acute ability to analyze the physical, mental and social well-being of both groups of people and individuals, in order to best promote occupational health and safety. For 15 years, she served as medical director of the Center for the Protection of Workers’ Rights (CPWR), a research institute affiliated with the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department. She has consulted for numerous federal agencies, including OSHA and the CDC. Dr. Welch has worked with several labour-management committees on health and safety issues, including United Auto Workers-Boeing. She continues to frequently provide occupational medicine expertise to the AFL-CIO.

Dr. Steven J. Anderson is a renowned sports medicine physician who has provided medical care to Pacific Northwest Ballet, the United States Diving Team, NCAA and Pac 12 sports, and numerous high schools and local club teams. Dr. Anderson has served as Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness and has been named Seattle Magazine’s and/or Seattle Metropolitan Magazine’s “Top Doctor” on multiple occasions.

AGMA National Executive Director Sam Wheeler and SDC Executive Director Laura Penn issued the following joint statement:

“AGMA and SDC look forward to working more closely with Equity as we all continue to navigate the troubled waters of the pandemic. There are now proven science-based practices to keep artists safe and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. in the performing arts industry. While we don’t know what the aftermath of the pandemic will be, our continued work has gotten our artists back to work in the safest way possible. Our partnership with the AGMA/SDC Medical Expert Advisory Group has proven that the show can go on, and safely. We are delighted that Equity is seeking the advice of the esteemed panel in whom we have come to trust so deeply.


During the pandemic, the Actors’ Equity Association has worked to prioritize workplace safety, first retaining former Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) chief Dr. David Michaels in April 2020, to advise the union on pandemic safety issues. The union has regularly issued updated safety guidelines for growers.

In June 2020, the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and the Stage Directors and Choreographer Society (SDC) engaged the services of an expert medical advisory group to assist with COVID-19 safety planning and s ensure that their members were protected in the workplace. This fruitful collaboration has led to the publication of the acclaimed AGMA/SDC Return Stage and Performing Arts Playbook (now in its fourth revision), a number of updates and tips, and a series of response webinars. to COVID-19.

Andrew B. Reiter