Monday, March 11, 2013

A victory for the no-fee forces

I was recently having a discussion on the Linked-In playwrights group about the phenomenon of theater organizations asking for scripts and requiring that playwrights include a submission fee. I've seen submission fees anywhere from a dollar to $30.

NYCPlaywrights has had a policy against submission fees since it began posting calls, and as far as I am aware, is unique for that policy. Not even the Dramatists Guild, which occasionally includes calls for scripts in its membership email updates has that policy, although they do appear to feel guilty about it.

I have always hoped that by standing firm on this issue, NYCPlaywrights will persuade theater people that it is not a good idea to fund theater on script submission fees. If actors don't have to pay to audition, and directors don't have to pay to submit their CVs then I don't see why playwrights should have to pay to submit their work. Not that actors will ever have to pay to audition in any serious theater organization - I am certain that Actors Equity would not stand for it. And the reason I'm so sure they would not is because theaters would already be making them pay, but realize that AEA wouldn't let them get away with it.

And finally I have proof that NYCPlaywrights policy does have influence on this issue - at least for one organization. I received a request to post a call for submissions that required a $15 submission fee on the NYCPlaywrights web site and of course I turned it down. So on Saturday I received an email that said in part...
I took your policy to our committee and all agreed that it would be best to eliminate the fee in order to preserve the good quality of submissions that we have gotten in the past and to foster high-quality writing without undue burdens on playwrights...
As a playwright myself I am most happy that you maintain this policy.

Naturally I asked for their permission (and received it) to blast this on the NYCPlaywrights web site, weekly membership email and last but not least the Linked-In Playwrights forum. Oh yes I like to gloat.