Actors’ Equity, the union for stage actors and managers, released some interesting membership data today. According to their analysis:
“Over the [2005-2015] decade, paid membership has increased by almost 8%… The ten cities with the largest numbers of Equity members… comprised the same ten cities ten years ago, but Washington DC/Baltimore and Philadelphia have exchanged positions over the decade. All ten cities have seen their populations of Equity members increase except for Los Angeles, but the city with the largest growth by far has been Washington DC/Baltimore where the member population has more than doubled.”
I’ve written before about how most of Equity’s members are concentrated in its two largest cities, New York and LA. In fact, LA alone represents about 74% of the entire Western Region. The really interesting story, however, is that from 2014 to 2015, Equity membership has dropped by a nearly 16% average across these ten cities. That implies a true national trend. When the official Equity data from the two most recent years are plotted against each other directly, a striking picture about the membership emerges. In fact, while the Washington DC/Baltimore member population may have doubled in the past ten years, it shrank by 19% over the previous year.
Significantly, New York lost more members (2860) in the previous year than the total membership of Chicago and San Francisco combined (2557).
If Equity trumpets an 8% increase over a decade, what to make of a sharp 16% decrease over just a single year?
Originally published December 2, 2015 in Footlights.