What is LORT?

The League Of Resident Theaters, which administers the primary national not-for-profit collective bargaining agreements with Actors’ Equity Association. It is the largest professional theatre association of its kind in the United States, with 72 member Theatres, including:

•    Roundabout Theatre Company
•    Alliance
•    Center Theatre Group
•    Denver Center Theatre Company
•    Guthrie Theater
•    Arena Stage
•    Lincoln Center Theater
“LORT Theatres collectively issue more Equity contracts to actors than Broadway and commercial tours combined.”

I thought LORT was only “regional” theaters… a “regional” theater in NYC? Impossible!

The LORT agreement is used by over 8 companies in NYC, including Lincoln Center Theater, Roundabout Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Theatre for a New Audience.

Are there any shows I know of that came from a LORT theater?

This year’s hit Broadway musicals
•    Dear Evan Hansen (Arena Stage)
•    Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812  (American Repertory Theater)

Tony winners that first came to Broadway via LORT agreements:
•    The Humans (Roundabout)
•    All the Way (Oregon Shakespeare Festival)
•    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Lincoln Center Theater)
•    War Horse (LCT)
•    The Coast of Utopia (LCT)
•    The Last Night of Ballyhoo (Alliance)
•    Master Class (Philadelphia Theatre Company)
•    Love! Valour! Compassion! (Manhattan Theatre Club)
•    The Grapes of Wrath (Steppenwolf and La Jolla Playhouse)
•    A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Hartford Stage and The Old Globe)
•    Jersey Boys (La Jolla)
•    Passion (LCT)
•    The Mystery of Edwin Drood (New York Shakespeare Festival)
•    Big River (American Repertory Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse)
•    Ain’t Misbehavin’ (MTC)

Pulitzer Prize and Tony winners that first came to Broadway via LORT agreements:
•    August: Osage County (Steppenwolf)
•    Doubt (MTC)
•    Proof (MTC)
•    Angels in America (Center Theater Group)
•    Fences (Yale Rep)
•    The Shadow Box (CTG)
•    Annie (Goodspeed Opera House)
•    The Great White Hope (Arena Stage)

Pulitzer winners:
•    Ruined (Goodman)
•    Water by the Spoonful (Hartford Stage)
•    Rabbit Hole (MTC)
•    Dinner with Friends (Actors Theatre of Louisville)
•    Wit (South Coast Rep)
•    The Kentucky Cycle (Intiman)
•    The Piano Lesson (Yale Rep)
•    ‘night, Mother (ART)

Why are there different tiers of LORT salaries? How are they determined?

LORT performing spaces are generally categorized from highest to lowest as A+, A, B, C, D, with minimum salaries determined by an average weekly box office for past 3 seasons. However, since it’s a not-for-profit, box office is only a fraction of a LORT theater’s income, which also includes substantial contributed income (grants and donors) and endowment income.

Current LORT salaries range from as low as $637 per week in LORT D theaters to $1385 per week in LORT A+ theaters on Broadway:

•    LCT’s Vivian Beaumont Theater (BROADWAY)
•    MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (BROADWAY)
•    Roundabout’s Studio 54 (BROADWAY)
•    American Airlines Theatre (BROADWAY)
•    Stephen Sondheim Theatre (BROADWAY)
•    CTG’s Mark Taper Forum (LOS ANGELES)

Wait! The 5 LORT theaters on Broadway pay almost $600 less than the other 36 commercial Broadway theaters?


And they’re still eligible for Tony Awards?


So how are not-for-profit theaters operating in the commercial sphere of Broadway?

The resident theater movement grew from a desire to restore theatre to itself as a form of art, to push back against the “hit-or-miss; put-it-up, tear-it-down; make-a-buck, lose-a-buck; discontinuous; artist-indifferent; New York-centered ways of Broadway,” according to the late Zelda Fichandler, who founded Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. in 1950. She wrote a letter to the Treasury Department arguing that a theater is an educational institution, and thus the late 20th Century American theatre found its true economic engine, the tax-exempt, not-for-profit corporation, allowing theaters to diversify their income streams to include box office revenue, grants, government funding, endowment income, and tax-deductible donations. Theaters around the country had resident companies, where Equity actors and stage managers performed great new plays and innovative productions of the classics, owned homes, and raised families.

But a not-for-profit corporation is still a corporation, and theaters kept an eye on the bottom line and remained ambitious. In by containing Actor and Stage Manager wages, to prioritize capital improvements over human capital; to raise money by using buildings as naming opportunities.
The result is a host of glittering edifices around the country and on the Great White Way, heavily staffed, where actors and stage managers are paid considerably less than their brothers and sisters working in commercial theaters across the street—even though the theaters in which they work have access to tens of millions of dollars, only a small percentage of which comes from box office revenue.

But EVERYBODY in those theaters must be making less than in commercial  Broadway theaters, right? Not just the actors and stage managers? I mean, they’re not-for-profit!

Nope. As in the for-profit world, the disparity between executive salaries and worker salaries is enormous, with an income gap that can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. Stage hands in the LORT theaters on Broadway also make the same as their fellow union members in commercial houses across the street—which we support! We believe it’s only fair, since these theaters have access to so much money, compete successfully with commercial theaters for audiences and awards, and produce on the scale of commercial theater, that Equity actors and stage managers in LORT theaters on Broadway should be paid full Broadway salaries, too!Actors’ Equity Association gave the Nonprofit LORT A+ theaters on Broadway concessions so they could grow. With budgets between $24 million and $61 million, we think they’re mature enough to pay a #FairWageOnstage.