Operations

Broadway Walkout Comes to an End

LCT Staff
Posted on December 5, 2007

NEW YORK CITY — The league representing Broadway’s theater owners and producers and the union representing its stagehands announced a settlement late last week, bringing to an end a strike that had shuttered most of Broadway for 19 days, disrupted the plans of thousands of theatergoers, and cost the city tens of millions of dollars in lost revenues.

The announcement was met by cheering stagehands, with nearly 100 gathering outside the law offices where the negotiations had been taking place.

“The contract is a good compromise that serves our industry,” said Charlotte St. Martin, the executive director of the League of American Theaters and Producers.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in a statement last night, called the agreement “great news not just for everyone who earns their living on or around Broadway, but for everyone who lives in, works in, or visits New York City.”

About 350 of the 2,200 active members of the union participated in the walkout, which began Nov. 10.

The strike, the first in the union’s 121-year history, darkened 31 theaters, shuttering 27 shows and one Duran Duran concert, which moved elsewhere. Eight shows remained open on Broadway in theaters that maintained separate contracts with the union, though a ninth — “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” — was reopened Friday after a judge granted an injunction forcing the theater to let the show run.

Broadway lost out on millions, posting ticket sales of $7.2 million for the two weeks that ended on Sunday. Last season, Broadway grossed $42 million for the two comparable weeks.

The city comptroller’s office reported that the strike was costing the city $2 million a day, which would mean almost $40 million in lost revenue over the two and a half weeks of the strike.

Many shows resumed performances this week but there are a variety of logistical obstacles to opening up a show that has been dark for two and a half weeks, from restarting complicated machinery to doing the dry cleaning, all of which may take longer than a day for some of the bigger shows.

Neither side released details of the settlement.

The league seemed happy with the outcome, or at least happy that the strike was finally over. “Everyone was thrilled,” said Alecia Parker, an executive producer of the musical “Chicago” and a member of the league’s negotiating committee. “Everyone was shaking hands.”

SOURCE: New York Times

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