To the People

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nice Work If You Can Get It ...

This only sounds like a joke. Thanks to their union, the stagehands at Carnegie Hall make more money than the performers. Way more:
Depending on wattage, a star pianist can receive $20,000 a night at [Carnegie Hall], meaning he or she would have to perform at least 27 times to match the income of Dennis O’Connell, who oversees props at the New York concert hall.

O’Connell made $530,044 in salary and benefits during the fiscal year that ended in June 2008. The four other members of the full-time stage crew -- two carpenters and two electricians -- had an average income of $430,543 during the same period, according to Carnegie Hall’s tax return. [Emphasis added.]

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The stagehands benefit from a strong union: Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees demonstrated its clout in November 2007 when its members walked off their Broadway jobs and closed 26 shows for almost three weeks. The strike ended after stagehands and producers agreed to a five-year contract that both sides called a compromise.

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How exactly do the stagehands earn their money? According to Carlino, they move equipment in and out of the hall, prepare the three stages for performances and operate audiovisual and sound fixtures. In addition to Stern Auditorium (2,804 seats), the company has Zankel Hall (599 seats) and Weill Recital Hall (268).

Producers who work there said a prop manager usually moves and supervises the moving of objects that aren’t plugged in, such as a piano or music stands. An electrician handles objects that get plugged in, like microphones and amplifiers, while carpenters are involved in the construction and handling of scenery.
Read the whole Bloomberg story here.

Hat tip: NRO's Corner.

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