Actors’ Equity Association issues statement in support of Victory Gardens theater workers

The Actors’ Equity Association has released a statement in response to recent events at the Victory Gardens Theatre.

It was recently reported that the board of directors of Victory Gardens informed staff that the current artistic director, Ken-Matt Martin, had been placed on leave and that the last candidate for the vacant position of general manager, Marissa Lynn Ford, had withdrawn. Acting chief executive Roxanna Conner had also told staff members she would step down at the end of the month. Resident directors Lili-Anne Brown and Jess McLeod, and ensemble playwrights Marisa Carr, Keelay Gipson, Isaac Gómez and Stacey Rose announced in an online post that they have also resigned from the theater. In a collectively signed message, the group accused the volunteer board of a “lack of transparency” and past “toxic behavior”.

In light of recent events, remaining performances of cullud wattah by Erika Dickerson-Daspenza have been cancelled.

See Actors’ Equity statement below:

“As the events surrounding the Victory Gardens Theater and its failed board stewardship became public knowledge this week, union staff and management have been in constant contact with stage managers and actors working at the production of cullud wattah Actors’ Equity Association fully supports our members and their right to a safe work environment – ​​as well as the right of all workers to work in a safe environment free from harassment, discrimination and bullying.

“It is deeply disheartening to see an organization that has very publicly fought against institutional racism in recent memory once again be seen as unable to support the workers of color without whom the Victory Gardens Theater could neither exist nor thrive.

“Playwright Erika Dickerson-Daspenza has withdrawn the rights to cullud wattah from the theater, which is her right. The union has assured that workers signed with Equity contracts will be paid until the originally scheduled closing date.

“Any actor or manager working at Victory Gardens – or any other Equity theater – who believes their employer has violated a provision of their collective agreement should contact their business representative (actorsequity.org/business-reps) immediately. after-hours performance should be reported immediately through the hotline, 888-802-5307 Additionally, members can make secure and confidential online reports of workplace harassment through the online portal. union line (actorsequity.org/safety), the Lighthouse anonymous reporting app or by calling Lighthouse at 833-550-0030.”

THE ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the American union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and managers. Equity strives to advance the careers of its members by negotiating salaries, improving working conditions and offering a wide range of benefits (including health and retirement). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. www.actorsequity.org

Andrew B. Reiter