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The Ultra Popular BroadwayCon Is In A Dispute With Actors’ Equity

Jan 23, 2017

Theater fans at BroadwayCon in 2016. CreditCaitlin Ochs for The New York Times

Last January, the first BroadwayCon brought thousands of theater fans to New York despite a massive snowstorm. But one week before the convention’s expanded second iteration, organizers have hit a snag: a labor dispute with the Actors’ Equity Association, who has asked its members not to perform, or even rehearse, for the event until an agreement is reached.

In a note sent to Actors’ Equity members on Friday, Flora Stamatiades, the union’s national director of organizing and special projects, wrote that last year’s contract had been reached on an understanding that the payment terms for future conventions would be changed. “Now the producers are refusing to make the changes to which they agreed,” she wrote. “This is unacceptable.” She then put BroadwayCon on Equity’s “do not work” list.

Like other fan-oriented events, BroadwayCon features performances, panel discussions and autograph sessions (as well as singalongs, tailored to its particular audience). Last year over 5,000 people attended. This year organizers, expecting the event to be larger, booked the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Part of the dispute centers on roughly two hours of performance time in two events on the convention’s main stage, involving 10 Actors’ Equity performers. But many other members of the union, including Kelli O’Hara, Laura Osnes and Tony Yazbeck, are scheduled to appear throughout the Jan. 27-29 weekend.

The convention is a for-profit venture co-presented by Playbill, Mischief Management and Anthony Rapp. Melissa Anelli, one of the lead organizers, wrote in an email to event participants that a solution was being sought. “We want to — and are willing to — comply with AEA,” she wrote. “However, these unexpected requests push beyond our financial capability.”