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Equity History 1913 to Present

Equity has gone back through the archives, reviewed piles of old issues of EQ Magazine, and put together an new, interactive timeline to take you through the ups and downs of Equity's long history.

Click on a year to travel through time...

  1. 1900-1959
    Equity's Consistution is drafted in New York
    May 26, 1913

    A group of actors in New York draft a constitution for the first Actors' Equity Association (AEA).
    Strike in New York
    August 18, 1919

    pictureCanadian actor Marie Dressler leads a 30-day strike in New York. The first Equity in North America is formed shortly thereafter.
    Stratford Festival Launches
    July 13, 1953

    The Stratford Festival launches its first six-week season, opening with Richard III on a thrust stage in a tent.
    Stratford Festival Organizes
    Sometime in 1954

    Canadian Council of Authors and Artists (CCAA), the national umbrella organization for ACTRA, is approached by Stratford actors for bargaining representation. A meeting is held in Montreal between Neil LeRoy, CCAA President and representatives from AEA. Stratford actors begin to work under AEA contracts administered by the CCAA.
    First AEA Meeting in Canada
    February 13, 1955

    First membership meeting of AEA is held in Canada. Attendance includes: Canadian representative Dennis Sweeting, Paul Jones of AEA, Neil LeRoy and Bernard Cowan of CCAA.
    First Canadian Equity Advisory Committee (CEAC)
    March 20, 1955

    First Canadian Equity Advisory Committee (CEAC) is elected: Lloyd Bochner, Douglas Campbell, Robert Christie, David Gardner, Eric House, William Hutt, Paul Kligman, Larry McCance, John Maddison, Grania Mortimer and William Needles.
    Equity's First Canadian Office
    Sometime in 1958

    Equity opens its first office at 519 Jarvis Street, Toronto with a staff of two.
    Actors' Fund of Canada (AFC) is Born
    Sometime in 1958

    Six Equity members at Stratford each throw one dollar into a pot, thereby starting The Actors Fund of Canada.
    Royal Winnipeg Ballet Organizes
    Sometime in 1959

    Equity negotiates the first contract with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
  2. 1960-1979
    AEA Wins Pension Battle
    Sometime in 1960

    AEA strikes and wins the right to a pension. The pension applies to Canadian members as well.
    CAC to CEC
    October 1962

    The CAC becomes the Canadian Executive Committee (CEC).
    CEC Survey
    Sometime in 1971

    The CEC launches a survey on the direction of the Canadian arm of Equity.
    Consolidating Equity Rules
    November 18, 1971

    The CEC discusses a controversial plan for a more comprehensive Canadian contract. Burnard Chadwick, Executive Secretary for Canada, promises to consolidate Equity rules into one book.
    A Walk in the Woods
    Early 1972

    A survey shows significant interest in an independent Canadian Equity. Later that year, Chairman Dan MacDonald and AEA President Theo Bikel take the now famous "walk in the woods" at an International Federation of Actors (FIA) meeting in Stockholm, laying the groundwork for the creation of a fully independent Canadian Equity.
    Independent Contractor Status
    Sometime in 1972

    The Canadian government calls upon Equity members to decide their tax status. Members vote by a narrow margin in favour of independent contractor status, thereby foregoing the benefits of being employees.
    League of Canadian Theatres is Formed
    Sometime in 1973

    Theatre producers form the League of Canadian Theatres (LOCT) largely to deal with Equity's plan to present producers with a consolidated Canadian contract.
    The First CTA Takes Effect
    Sometime in 1974

    The first Canadian Theatre Agreement (CTA), with 53 articles and 249 clauses, takes effect. Actor minimum fees are $110 to $180 per week depending on the company category and stage manager minimum fees are between $132 and $234 per week.
    Organizing Opera and Ballet
    Equity negotiates a first contract with the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada.

    Life Membership in Equity
    Sometime in 1975

    Jane Mallett is honoured with Equity's first Life Membership.
    Equity's First Canadian Newsletter
    February 1976

    Equity launches its first Canadian newsletter under the direction of editor Frank Hogg.
    Equity's Logo
    March 17, 1976

    picture   A special selection committee of Dan MacDonald, Anne Butler, Jennifer Phipps, and Claude Bede met on March 17 to decide the winner of the logo design contest. The winning submission was from member Laurence Cherniak. There were 27 submissions altogether.
    Canadian Actors' Equity Association is Formed
    April 1, 1976

    pictureCanadian Actors' Equity Association is formed, transferring 2000 members from AEA. Equity adopts its Constitution and bylaws outlining the objects of the Association and signs reciprocal agreements with ACTRA, AEA, AGMA and UdA.
    LOCT Becomes PACT
    April 1976

    LOCT changes its name to the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT).
    First Canadian Equity President
    February 24, 1977

    Equity holds its first full elections. Dan MacDonald becomes Equity's first elected president.
    First CTA Takes Effect
    June 1977

    The first CTA, negotiated between Equity and PACT, takes effect. The three-year agreement introduces separate clauses for directors and choreographers.
    Equity's Western Office Opens
    June 1977

    Equity opens the western office at 111 Dunsmuir Avenue in Vancouver.
  3. 1980-1999
    Revenge of the Nerds
    June 1981

    Equity purchases its first computer system at a cost of $40,000.
    Executive Committee Enhances Communication
    April 1983

    The Executive Committee link members from outside of Toronto by speakerphone for the first time.
    Equity's Logo Evolves
    March 1984

    The 'angel' logo design as we have known it was designed in 1984 by Winsome Case, a 21-year old Central Tech arts student originally from Jamaica. The logo was first revealed on the masthead of the March 1984 Equity newsletter.
    Professional Development
    April 1989

    Equity establishes the professional development fund, setting aside $10,000 for professional development in regions outside southern Ontario, and $20,000 as a direct grant for Equity Showcase Theatre.
    Phantom of the Opera
    September 1989

    Phantom of the Opera opens in Toronto and plays for 10 years becoming the longest theatrical run in Canadian history.
    Dues Referendum
    December 14, 1993

    Equity members vote 71% in favour of raising basic dues by 40% over five years and eliminating the cap on working dues by 1999.
    CTA Negotiations Break Down
    June 1995

    PACT takes Equity to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, alleging an unfair labour practice after CTA negotiations breakdown. A one-year agreement is eventually negotiated. No decision is rendered on PACT's attempt to deem Equity a trade union and its members employees.
    INDIE Takes the Stage
    October 30, 1995

    At Equity's Ontario AGM, Over 200 Ontario members demand changes to the Co-op Policy and a new form of contract for members who self-produce. The INDIE is born.
    Status of the Artist
    April 25, 1996

    Equity is certified by The Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal (CAPPRT) to represent artists working in the federal jurisdiction capping a 25-year effort to secure Status of the Artist legislation.
    Equity's New HQ
    December 16, 1996

    Equity's National Office moves to its current address at 44 Victoria Street.
    National Ballet Lockout
    July 1997

    Artists at the National Ballet are locked out after negotiations fail to reach a new agreement. Pressure tactics eventually result in a significantly improved Agreement and a return to work.
    Canadian Theatre Conference
    May 1998

    The first Canadian Theatre Conference sponsored by Equity, PACT, Playwrights Union of Canada and Associated Designers of Canada is held in Saskatoon.
    November, 1998

    Livent seeks bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada. The RCMP launches an investigation into Livent's books.
    CTA Extended
    June 20, 1999

    The CTA is extended for one year to allow for completion of interest based negotiations. Bargaining sessions are scheduled over the next 14 months.
    Taking Action on Harrassment
    October 1999

    The National Harassment Task Force (Equity, PACT and the AFM) sign an industry-wide statement of principles for model policy.
  4. 2000-2009
    Alberta Labour Board

    Equity is certified by the Alberta Labour Board to represent the dances of the Alberta Ballet, becoming an official trade union in the province.
    Equity Launches E-Drive
    Spring 2000

    E-Drive launched is Spring 2000. It has grown in popularity each year, and now delivers job postings, auditions and Equity news to over 10,000 subscribers.
    Alberta Ballet Agreement

    Historic first agreement with Alberta Ballet is ratified.
    Pension Reciprocity with AEA

    Equity and AEA sign pension reciprocity agreement.
    Livent Settlement

    Equity receives a $157,000 settlment from Livent for outstanding production disputes.
    Insurance Plan Issue Resolved

    PACT and Equity negotiate a resolution to address large insurance plan deficit.
    Fighting for Fight Directors

    Equity begins representing fight directors.
    AGMA Recpiprocal Agreement Rescinded

    The American Guild of Musical Artists rescinds reciprocal agreement with Equity.
    Magnus Theatre

    Canada Revenue Agency rules that actors, designers and other independent contractors are employees of Magnus Theatre, but reverses the decision the following year.
    Council Implements Policy Governance

    Council votes to implement Policy Governance as Equity's new governance structure.
    Blue Man Group Boycotted
    April 5, 2005

    Canadian Actors' Equity Association, the Toronto Musicians Association - Local 149 of the American Federation of Musicians, and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees - Locals 58 and 822 hold a media conference at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts to announce the launch of a consumer boycott of Blue Man Group.
    Council Implements Policy Governance

    Council votes to implement Policy Governance as Equity's new governance structure.
    EQUITYONLINE is Launched
    November 14, 2005

    Equity's new website goes live.
    Winning in Winnipeg

    Federal Court of Appeal upholds 'independent contractor' status for dancers at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, overturning the previous decision by the Tax Court of Canada.
    Council Referendum

    Equity passses constitutional referendum vote to reduce the size of council from 34 to not less than 20 seats.
    Members' Advantage Program
    December 4, 2007

    Members' Advantage Program (MAP) is introduced providing a comprehensive benefits package.
    Equity Protests Federal Cuts
    August 2008

    Equity protests the Conservative government's termination of the PromArt and Trade Routes cultural diplomacy programs.
    Equity Goes Green
    Fall 2008

    Equity goes green, replacing paper-based correspodence with more environmentally friendly email outreach.
    Audition Project Halifax
    April 19-20, 2010

    The Audition Project assembled 15 directors and artistic directors from across Canada to audition professional Canadian artists at the Dalhousie Arts Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
    Senior Artists Research Project
    November 9, 2010

    Senior Artists Research Project (SARP) releases final report identifying a number of issues and recommendations for seniors exclusive to the arts and culture sector.
    The Tangerine Project
    January 21, 2011

    pictureEquity and PACT announce the Tangerine Project, designed to offer more flexible contracting options for the development and production of new work.
    Survey on Small-scale Engagements
    January 21, 2011

    A membership survey is released, taking an in-depth look at the state of engagement in small-scale theatre, and how Equity meets the challenges of small-scale theatre production in Canada.
    Equity Service Standards
    June 16, 2011

    Equity Service Standards policy is announced, ensuring delivery of a high level of customer service to members and others who have interaction with Equity.
    DanCap Protest
    February 9, 2012

    Equity protests two non-union tours "in the Heights" and "Shrek: The Musical" by U.S. company Dancap.
    CPAG Structure Changes Announced
    Spring 2012

    Council Policy Advisory Groups updated with issue and action-based Council Advisory Committees.
    Vancouver Playhouse Closes
    March 10, 2012

    Vancouver Playhouse closes its doors after 50 years.
    CTA Fee Parity and Quota Provisions
    July, 2012

    Landmark negotiated changes to the membership and quota provisions of the CTA require contracts for all artists.
    International Federation of Actors (FIA) held in Toronto
    September 27-30, 2012

    picturePerformers from more than 75 countries, from Argentina to Zambia, met in Toronto at the 2012 International Federation of Actors (FIA) World Congress.
    Improvements to Insurance Plan
    February 20, 2014

    Improvements to insurance plan include year-round coverage for illness, an increase in disability insurance, alternative medicine and accidental dental.
    2014 Dues Referendum Passes
    February 20, 2014

    Equity members vote in favour of the first dues increase in 15 years.
    Les Grands Ballets Canadiens
    June 13, 2014

    pictureHistoric first agreement with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal is ratified.
    Online Payment of Basic Dues Announced
    June 27, 2014

    As promised during the 2014 Dues Referendum, online payment of basic dues becomes available.
    Safe and Respectful Workplaces
    January 15, 2015

    Equity's Council launches the Safe and Respectful Workplaces survey.
    Protecting Child Performers in Ontario
    May 5, 2015

    Bill 17, The Protecting Child Performers Act, receives Royal Assent in the Ontario Legislature.
    Equity Census is Completed
    May 25, 2015

    pictureMore than 55% of members participate in The Equity Census to examine the composition of Equity's membership and identify potential barriers to employment.
    I Vote Arts and Culture
    October, 2015

    Equity speaks out on federal election, launching "I Vote Arts & Culture" campaign.
    Ontario Cultural Strategy and Changing Workplace Review
    September 18, 2015

    Equity makes recommendations to the Ontario government on the draft Cultural Strategy and Changing Workplace Review.
    DOT Policy is Announced
    December 18, 2015

    The DOT (Dance, Opera and Theatre) Policy debuts, providing flexible terms for theatre and dance contracts, and new provisions for small-scale opera engagements.
    Introducing The AFC
    February 1, 2016

    The Actors' Fund of Canada rebrands as The AFC. Equity continues to be a proud key supporter of The AFC.
    New Equity Logo
    February 22, 2016

    In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Equity reveals its new logo to attendees of the 2015-2016 Honours Awards Reception. Equity celebrated 40 years as an independent Canadian association on April 1, 2016.
    Equity Responds to Ontario's Draft Cultural Strategy
    May 13, 2016

    May 13, 2016 was the input deadline for Ontario's Draft Culture Strategy. Equity members responded in large numbers, and Equity voiced its concerns that professional Artists were not adequately represented or supported in the draft Strategy.
    Equity's Western Office Moves
    May 31, 2016

    The Western Office relocated to a new Vancouver address at 1316-750 West Broadway, Vancouver BC.
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