Los Angeles (July 12, 2004)—In an effort to constructively resolve the ongoing debate over the controversial practice of actors paying to attend casting workshops, The Screen Actors Guild Foundation and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) today announced a new pilot effort that will increase the number of free casting workshops available to Guild members. After a one-year run in Los Angeles, SAG hopes to expand the program nationwide.
The Casting Access Project aims to enhance Guild member access to casting directors, who are the gatekeepers of job opportunities for working actors. The one-year pilot effort was made possible by a recent grant from the Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund (IACF). The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, through an in-kind donation, will house the workshops on their campus.
The issue of paid casting workshops came to a head in Los Angeles two years ago when California Labor Commissioner Art Lujan held public hearings on the issue. The hearings, which were well attended by actors, producers and casting directors, produced voluntary guidelines under which for-profit casting enterprises would agree to operate. The Casting Access Project aims to build on that momentum by significantly expanding the number of no-cost workshops and other casting opportunities available to Guild members, while providing casting directors with modest compensation for their time.
“Our goal here is to create a win-win-win,” explained Paul Petersen, chair of the SAG casting committee. “Actors have greater casting access. Producers have an easier time meeting the casting provisions of their SAG contract. And, the time of casting directors also is valued. This grant helps us work toward solutions that address the legitimate concerns of all sides in this debate.”
The SAG Foundation will administer the grant, and SAG’s member education department will work closely with the Casting Society of America to create the program’s educational content, which will build on the volunteer efforts of SAG’s casting committee, which has conducted no-cost workshops since the 1980s.
The Casting Access Project is scheduled to reach its first-year goal of tripling the number of free casting workshops by the fall of 2004. It is available to all SAG members in good-standing. Members who wish to participate should call the hotline at 323/549-6022.
Screen Actors Guild is the nation’s premier labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents nearly 120,000 working actors in film, television, industrials, commercials and music videos. The Guild exists to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists’ rights. SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Headquartered in Los Angeles, you can visit SAG on-line at www.sag.org.
About the SAG Foundation
The Screen Actors Guild Foundation is the charitable, humanitarian and educational arm of Screen Actors Guild. Its primary objective is to serve the membership of Screen Actors Guild. Funding from IACF directly helps support the mission of the SAG Foundation by providing education programs to SAG members. More information can be found at www.sagfoundation.org.
About the IACF
The IACF is funded by producer contributions based on payroll. Governed by a joint board of Guild members and management trustees, the IACF’s mission is to provide grants that advance the well being of the entertainment industry.