HomeOperaJourney Theatre employees allege unfair pay and unsafe working circumstances

Journey Theatre employees allege unfair pay and unsafe working circumstances

The employees of Journey Theatre Firm has issued an unsigned letter alleging that the Glen Echo, Maryland-based youngsters’s theater has engaged in a collection of dangerous employment practices since reopening after COVID.

Complaints within the letter (which states that it comes from “The Journey Theatre MTC employees”) embrace a scarcity of inner employees protocols, frequently anticipating employees to work additional time hours with out compensation, and staging back-to-back productions at an unsafe pace that has resulted in bodily accidents to solid members.

Journey Theatre MTC in Glen Echo Park, Maryland.

In line with the letter, these practices resulted in widespread employees resignations in October of 2021. Three complaints have been lodged with Not In Our Home DC, the collective of volunteers that helps theater professionals navigate office difficulties. The entire textual content of the letter may be discovered right here.

Journey Theatre MTC (ATMTC) is presently led by a governing board, Inventive Director Chil Kong, and Interim Govt Director Jeanne Ellinport, who was appointed when Govt Director Leon Seemann left the theater in February.

Lots of the complaints within the letter are directed particularly at Ellinport. In line with the complainants:

The 21-22 Manufacturing season at Journey, beforehand helmed by Govt Director Leon Seemann, has been a case research in mismanagement, which was additional exacerbated on the finish of February 2022 by the arrival of Jeanne Ellinport as Interim Govt Director, who has no skilled theatre or arts administration expertise and is unaware of EDI [Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion] practices. Jeanne Ellinport, former Board Treasurer, could have non-profit administration expertise, nonetheless the performing arts {industry} requires sturdy, specialised information, expertise, and abilities to successfully lead, particularly throughout a pandemic and the industry-wide motion to eradicate racial inequities. Jeanne Ellinport’s mismanagement over the previous 4 months has left the employees and contractors confused over the Board of Director’s option to appoint her as Interim Govt Director, and annoyed with their failure to nominate a succesful Govt Director. Up to now, the Board has not even begun the seek for a everlasting, skilled Govt Director.

DC Theater Arts spoke to Ellinport concerning the letter. Ellinport agrees that ATMTC must put in place higher working procedures and enhance employees pay. “Change can’t occur in a single day,” Ellinport informed DCTA. “However the board and myself are dedicated to creating it occur.” She notes that pay will increase are already on the books for the 2022–2023 season and that employees was knowledgeable of this at a current assembly.

Ellinport informed DCTA that she has over 30 years of expertise in nonprofits, most just lately moving into interim roles in nonprofit organizations to “get them on the appropriate path” earlier than a full-time government director is appointed. She factors to troublesome occasions of the previous few years as exacerbating components that led the theater to turn into understaffed. Particularly, Ellinport mentions the 18-month COVID closure, the departure of former Inventive Director Michael Bobbitt, and the hearth that destroyed a part of ATMTC’s Glen Echo Park facility in 2017. These occasions have left the theater in what Ellinport describes as “a rebuilding part.” She notes that the theater has not had a strategic plan in 5 years. “It might have been improper for the theater to convey on a brand new government director now,” Ellinport says. “There’s an excessive amount of that’s unsteady or unknown. Moreover, we’re engaged on rebranding however tradition change takes time.”

One other merchandise on the in depth record of employees complaints states,

Management has constantly over scheduled seasons with no breaks in between productions for ATMTC employees, creating overlaps of duties and no alternative for break day; management constantly creates inhumane efficiency schedules with out sufficient breaks that overextend actors/crew and put undue stress on their our bodies and voices, doubtlessly resulting in lasting well being points.

Ellinport says that ATMTC management is wanting into methods to lower the burden on employees. Because of this, the theater has not but introduced its 2022–2023 season. “We try to get inventive to steadiness an overworked schedule. Will we shorten schedules and never have eight-week runs? Are there issues we will do in between that aren’t taxing on our employees?” Ellinport notes that she has been speaking to different youngsters’s theaters throughout the nation to see how they strategy issues.

One stressor that ATMTC offers with is its lease at Glen Echo Park, which stipulates that the theater’s doorways be open a sure variety of days per 12 months.

The letter states that present Journey Theatre MTC employees members have tried quite a few instances over current months to current their considerations about unfair compensation and an unsafe work setting to firm management. It particularly refers to a June 12, 2022, assembly wherein employees members raised security considerations. In line with the letter, Kong and Ellinport failed to supply any options and as an alternative referred to the profit-centered marketing strategy created by Journey’s board of administrators.

DCTA spoke to one of many authors of the letter of grievance, who needs to stay nameless. “I really feel very disposable,” stated this employees member, who has labored full-time at ATMTC since early 2022. “Although that is what I went to varsity for and have carried out for years, it appears like she [Ellinport] doesn’t care concerning the labor that we do. She treats us like unskilled laborers however this isn’t simply one thing you’ll be able to decide up and do.”

Inventive Director Chil Kong acknowledges that errors have been made at ATMTC in recent times. “The important thing to errors is studying and enhancing,” Kong says. “I hope we’re given some grace as we put into follow what we have now discovered. I do know we have now all labored past our job descriptions because the theater reopened. Nothing is extra necessary now than rebuilding belief with employees.”

The letter concludes by calling on ATMTC to stop manufacturing of its 2022–2023 season till it may well appropriate dangerous labor practices by hiring extra employees to fill vacant positions, and implement honest labor and security practices.

The total textual content of the letter of grievance by the employees of Journey Theatre MTC may be discovered right here.

Hyperlinks included within the letter as “Related Trade Data”:

“Boards Are Damaged, So Let’s Break and Remake Them” by Michael Bobbitt for American Theatre Journal

“Victory Gardens Theater’s Resident Artists Resign Citing Grievances With the Chicago Theatre’s Board of Administrators” by Playbill




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