Today, the American Guild of Musical Artists, AFL-CIO (AGMA) and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) have announced a reciprocal agreement that will build on and strengthen the existing partnership between the two national labor unions.
AGMA members include singers, dancers, and staging staff in opera, ballet and concert dance, and concert choral performance in the United States. SDC Members include professional stage directors and choreographers throughout the United States.
SDC and AMGA first partnered in May 2020, when they jointly engaged an Expert Medical Advisory Panel to create the highly acclaimed AGMA/SDC Return to Stage and Performing Arts Playbook, which has been continually updated throughout the pandemic. The partnership between the two unions has become a model for the entertainment industry.
“AGMA and SDC have been working together for quite some time,” said Sam Wheeler, National Executive Director, AGMA. “AGMA and SDC share members, workplaces, and a vital interest in the arts in the United States. This agreement expands our partnership and provides direct benefits of AGMA and SDC’s collaboration to our members. We are so excited to see where this dynamic partnership takes us next.”
The new agreement will solidify the collaborative relationship between the unions and offer members reciprocal exchange benefits. Members in good standing of AGMA and SDC who seek to join the other union will be entitled to a 50% discount on the initiation fee. Admission to membership in AGMA and SDC for any individual member will be subject to the rules and policies of each union that are generally applicable to any prospective member.
“We are delighted to extend our partnership with AGMA and support the members of both unions,” noted Laura Penn, Executive Director of SDC. “There are currently 40 individuals who are members of both AGMA and SDC. But there are many other SDC Members who work in opera, and hundreds of AGMA members who identify as directors and choreographers. This agreement will help facilitate their movement between opera and theatre jurisdictions, and support directors and choreographers as they explore new artistic opportunities.”
Robert O’Hara will be the first director to take advantage of the reciprocal agreement. He will direct X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X by Pulitzer Prize-winner Anthony Davis at the Metropolitan Opera in 2023 as a co-production between the Met, Detroit Opera, Lyric Opera Chicago, Opera Omaha, and Seattle Opera. The Tony-nominated director of Slave Play, O’Hara is a two-time Obie Award and two-time NAACP Award winner whose work has been seen around the country.
"I am so honored that my first opportunity to direct an opera has coincided with my being the first SDC Member to take advantage of the new SDC/AGMA partnership,” said O’Hara. “SDC has long been my strongest advocate and I look forward to becoming a member of AGMA. I encourage my colleagues to explore this opportunity, which ultimately allows each union to better serve its members."
American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) is the labor union of singers, dancers, and staging staff in opera, ballet and concert dance, and concert choral performance in the United States. A national union with a membership of over 6,000 artists, AGMA provides forceful advocacy and defense of its members’ employment and artistic rights. AGMA negotiates and enforces over 65 collective bargaining agreements throughout the country, ensuring fair and safe working conditions and enhancing the quality of life of its members. AGMA has a direct charter from the AFL-CIO and is affiliated with the AFL-CIO Branch of Associated Actors and Artists of America and the Department for Professional Employees (DPE). AGMA is also a part of the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG).
SDC is the theatrical union that unites, empowers, and protects professional stage directors and choreographers throughout the United States. Our mission is to foster a national community of professional stage directors and choreographers by protecting the rights, health and livelihoods of all our Members; negotiating and enforcing employment agreements across a range of jurisdictions; facilitating the exchange of ideas, information, and opportunities; and educating current and future generations about the critical role of directors and choreographers in leading the field. SDC is affiliated with the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees and is part of the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds. SDCweb.org