The Actors’ Equity union just released their 2016-2017 report. Think of it as an annual report from any large entity like a corporation. The data within should help stockholders or members answer questions. This year’s Equity report, however, seems to be designed to give conclusions that are to be merely accepted – to both satisfy those who are innumerate and starve those who are analytical.
Every other year’s report has an accounting of Union membership by city. Not so in the current report. This is some of the most crucial info for several reasons. First, it makes clear the dominance of LA as a city in the Union. The only membership distribution is given in terms of a regional breakdown. As a result, “the West” has 27% of the membership, minimizing it compared to “the East.” The more accurate statement, based on previous member data, is that the most important Equity areas by membership are NYC and LA as is shown in the graph below (data from previous Union reports). Clearly the bulk of the members are in NYC (Broadway) and LA (Hollywood).
Second, without city membership numbers breakdowns, one can’t make precise city-to-city comparisons. This means that we don’t know what constitutes a large number of work-weeks. For example, suppose both Cities A and B both have 5,000 work-weeks/year in them. But City A has 5000 Union members and City B has 500 Union members. Obviously, it’s better to be an actor in City B where the average actor will have 10 work-weeks/year compared to the 1 work-week/year in City A! But without those membership numbers, it’s hard to make heads or tails of just what the work-week numbers actually mean.
In addition, the work-week numbers quoted in this report are rather non-precise: words like “nearly”, “over”, etc are used when a table of actual numbers would be simpler and more compact. Clearly, the exact numbers are known but the Union leadership has held them back.
I don’t know which officials must sign-off before annual report release (in large organizations, you typically need the signature of the President or Exec Dir type level as proof of review). But the material released here by the Union is different than in previous years. This year’s report gives impression of lots of “data” without the ability to ask questions beyond what is presented.
By withholding these numbers from their report (unlike in previous years), Actors’ Equity is discouraging the kind of analysis that such a report should be encouraging. The same type of analysis that has been done in previous years.