American Guild of Musical Artists and Society of Directors and Choreographers Announce New Partnership

Today, the American Guild of Musical Artists, AFL-CIO (AGMA) and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) announced a reciprocal agreement that will build on and strengthen the existing partnership between the two national unions.

AGMA members include singers, dancers, and staging personnel from opera, ballet, concert dance, and concert choir in the United States. SDC members include professional directors and choreographers across the United States.

SDC and AMGA first partnered in May 2020, when they jointly engaged an advisory group of medical experts to create the highly acclaimed AGMA/SDC Return to Stage and Performing Arts Playbook, which has been continuously 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 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 We are excited to see where this dynamic partnership takes us next.”

The new agreement will solidify the collaborative relationship between unions and provide members with reciprocal trading benefits. AGMA and SDC members in good standing who wish to join the other union will be entitled to a 50% discount on membership fees. Admission to AGMA and SDC for any individual member will be subject to each union’s rules and policies which are generally applicable to any prospective member.

“We are delighted to extend our partnership with AGMA and support members of both unions,” noted Laura Penn, Director General of the SDC. “There are currently 40 people 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 s “identify as directors and choreographers. This agreement will facilitate their movement between operatic and theater jurisdictions, and support directors and choreographers in their exploration of new artistic opportunities.”

Robert O’Hara will be the first director to take advantage of the reciprocal agreement. He will direct Pulitzer Prize-winning X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X 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. Tony-nominated Slave Play director O’Hara is a two-time Obie Award winner and two-time NAACP Award winner whose work has been seen nationwide.

“I am so honored that my first opportunity to conduct an opera coincided with being the first SDC member to take advantage of the new SDC/AGMA partnership,” O’Hara said. “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.”

William N. Fernandez