AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM
December 15, 2016
Dear Friends of Sci-Fest LA –
As some of you may know, in 2015, Actors Equity Association (the union for professional stage actors) took the unprecedented step of discontinuing the Los Angeles 99-Seat Theatre Plan -- an agreement that had been in place for over 30 years. The plan had allowed LA-based Equity members to perform for free in small, 99-seat theatres in order to showcase their talents. Although the local Los Angeles membership of Equity waged a very strong campaign to reverse the decision, the national council of Equity overruled them. A lawsuit was subsequently brought against the union by a group of well-known actors including Emmy-winner, Ed Asner, but a few weeks ago, the suit was dismissed by federal judge in Los Angeles. As a result, the 99-Seat plan officially comes to an end as of today, December 15, 2016.
This means that no professional stage actor in Los Angeles can appear in a 99-Seat theatre without being paid minimum wage for every hour they work (rehearsals, tech rehearsals, performances, etc.). There are a couple of loopholes to this ruling, but they are very narrow and there is no currently no viable option available for a festival the size of Sci-Fest LA (that uses 45-60 actors each year). Under the 99-seat plan we were able to pay each actor a small “per-show” stipend, but the festival, which has always operated on a very limited production budget, would be completely unable to comply with these new salary demands. We are always extremely grateful to simply break-even while producing in such a small venue.
Although we have been trying hard to find a way around this very unfortunate situation, the union’s requirements have forced us to make a very difficult decision. Sci-Fest LA: The Los Angeles Science Fiction One-Act Play Festival will be going on hiatus for 2017.
It is our hope that eventually the vast majority of LA actors, who would very much like to have the option to volunteer their services and hone their craft on the city’s many small stages, will win out against their union. However, until then, Sci-Fest LA will be unable to present our annual festival of beautifully-produced, mind-bending sci-fi short plays.
At present, there is a possibility that Sci-Fest LA might be co-producing a full-length Sci-Fi themed stage play in conjunction with a well-established, “membership” theatre company in LA (which is currently exempt from the Equity salary requirements). We will also be exploring opportunities to co-present other Sci-Fi plays under the Sci-Fest LA banner. In addition, plans are underway to continue our incredible short Sci-Fi short story competitions: The Tomorrow Prize (for Los Angeles High School Students) and the Roswell Award (for adult writers of Sci-Fi from around the globe). These awards are currently scheduled to be presented again in May, 2017. We would be deeply grateful for your support of these two great events. We will keep you abreast of the dates and the various ways you can help.
We will, of course, keep you all updated on any developments regarding the future of Sci-Fest LA. And we would like to again say thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the incredible support you have shown the for our first three years! Creating and producing the Fest has been an incredible experience for all of us. Our fingers are crossed that Sci-Fest LA will rematerialize back in Los Angeles in May, 2018!
Until then, live long and prosper.
David Dean Bottrell
Founding Producers, Sci-Fest LA