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Pro-99 Status Quo supporters are misguided

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Salyers and other Pro-99 supporters who think theatre in LA will die if small theatres are required to pay minimum wage. One major issue not being brought up is the law. The California Labor Commission has turned a blind eye to the 99-Seat theatre world for decades but is now receiving pressure to enforce minimum wage because of the national outcry regarding labor practices in general.
Equity has to cover their butts. If the state enforces minimum wage requirements and Equity hasn't gotten in front of this mess, small theatre owners and producers could turn around and sue Equity for the monies claiming they followed what the union advised. Litigation will happen. Also, there are dozens of small theatres that have been using the 99-Seat plan for years. If your company can manage to produce plays regularly, then you should be making the effort to raise funds to pay everyone involved, not just tech directors, directors or writers. Vocal proponents of maintaining the status quo, such as Tim Robbins or Ed Asner, are the very people who should be trying to improve working conditions and helping setup funds and lobby wealthy LA patrons to support theatre.
You know why the Geffens and Ahmansons and all the other wealthy benefactors support large theatres, LA Opera, LA Master Chorale, LA Philharmonic and  LA Museums, but not 99-Seat theatres? Because most, not all, but most are a jumble of dilettantes throwing together mediocre fare at best.
The term "Los Angeles theatre scene" is an oxymoron. Yes, there is lightning in a bottle on a occasion being produced in these small venues, but most prove the adage, "You get what you pay for." Unfortunately too many actors over the years drank the Kool-Aid and believe that great art equals great sacrifice and that volunteering to work for nothing is honorable or a way to work the acting muscles. I call bullshit. Value artists' work and give them a wage. This isn't even a living wage, but it's a start. And maybe changing the plan will shut down a bunch of theatres or maybe those theatres will work smarter and harder to find the funds they need. Hollywood is full of rich people who throw their money away on countless things. No one can say that the money isn't around, they just haven't worked hard enough to acquire it. 

Lia Beachy

Nathan Thomas' column: "The Ninety and Nine Seats"

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