The American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) unequivocally supports the exceptional dancers and staging staff of American Ballet Theatre (ABT) who are currently working under an expired contract. It is with great urgency and frustration that we address this issue once more, noting that we find ourselves in the exact same predicament as we did in 2017. This time though, the Artists have endured even more hardships and sacrifices, particularly in light of the devastating impact of the pandemic.
In 2017, the Artists sent a letter to the ABT Board outlining critical issues that required immediate attention. The following six years have seen no substantial change in the contract conditions of the Artists. Rather, they have been burdened even further, having made concessions due to the pandemic and to ABT Leadership’s pattern of failing to prioritize the Artists’ wellbeing (details of which are outlined in their 2023 letter).
Just the other day, in 2023, the dancers and staging staff once again sent a letter explicitly detailing the ongoing crisis and the pressing need for a fair contract. The dedication and unwavering commitment of the dancers and staging staff of ABT are undeniable. They have consistently gone above and beyond, often at the expense of their own well-being, safety, and financial gain to ensure the success and artistic excellence of ABT.
American Ballet Theatre is one of the premier dance companies in the world. It is an absolute disgrace that, in this day and age, the Artists—the very lifeblood of ABT—still bear the weight of failed leadership. AGMA Artists at ABT are no longer asking for fairness; they are demanding it. They demand a living wage, equitable and safe working conditions, and the respect they rightfully deserve. AGMA stands unwaveringly with these AGMA Artists.
ABT must recognize the indispensable value of its Artists. It is time to act decisively to rectify the ongoing injustice and to alleviate the unnecessary burdens placed on these Artists who dedicated their lives and bodies to the company. This must be done without delay; we cannot wait for another contract negotiation only to find the Artists once again sending another letter with the same demands. And AGMA will not stand by while artists continue to suffer from a lack of action.
The Artists have spoken, and it is time for ABT to listen, to act, and to demonstrate genuine commitment to its artistic core—the remarkable artists who epitomize the spirit and excellence of this renowned institution.