Actors’ Equity is sending its members guidance on applying for unemployment benefits as actors await word on any salary they may receive during the shutdown.
In an email Tuesday, Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity, advised members on how to file for unemployment, while noting that certain members may not meet the criteria, which varies by state and income level. The guidance comes as Equity and the Broadway League have been taking part in conversations about an overall salary deal for current Broadway actors while the theaters are dark.
“Our general advice is to file for unemployment as soon as possible to minimize the time it will take for you to collect benefits should you become eligible,” McColl wrote in an email sent to members Tuesday.
The seven-day waiting periods that traditionally applied to applying for unemployment benefits in California and New York have been waived.
For those Equity members who are not eligible for unemployment, the union, working alongside other entertainment groups, including IATSE and Local 802, said it continues to lobby Congress to create protections for workers in the entertainment industry in any relief packages.
In the interim, the Broadway League has been meeting with all of the Broadway unions to strike a deal on any payment workers affected by the shutdown may receive, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Outside of that deal, some theater companies have made their own commitments to their productions.
Roundabout Theatre Company, a nonprofit organization which is part of the League of Resident Theatres, has committed to paying all members of current productions at full salary for four weeks, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Other nonprofit groups have ramped up fundraising for out-of-work actors and other members of the entertainment community. That effort includes Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which launched a fundraising campaign Tuesday to raise $1 million for members of the theater community impacted by coronavirus.
Still, many actors have not received definitive answers from producers and are waiting on final word from the union as to whether they will receive any salary during the 30-day shutdown of theaters on Broadway.