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Seth Simons Dec 10
Some context on this: as everyone in the community knows by now, UCB is set to announce substantial cuts this week. These will certainly include layoffs and are expected to include a trimming of house teams and possibly the closure of an entire theatre.
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
Why? Rising costs, falling revenue. Per a few sources, the East Village space is facing a steep increase in rent & taxes, while Hell's Kitchen (hardly cheap itself) is experiencing disappointing sales. One consequence already is UCB staff saw two payroll delays in recent months.
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
(I should warn you here that this will be a medium-length thread. not long but medium. okay)
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
So, tomorrow & Weds UCB will announce—first to staff, then performers—what I'm told will be 2 waves of layoffs, both to take place before the new year, when employees' vacation days would refresh. Until then, I'm told, the UCB 4 are covering at least some of the costs.
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
As I said, there's a sense that at least one theatre will close, specifically UCB East, which I'm told is facing steep rent & tax increases. This would be disastrous for UCB: the Beast has a bar and foot traffic, neither of which can be said for the beleaguered Hell's Kitchen.
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
…and of course the loss of any stage is devastating for its community. So, here's hoping those suspicions don't come to pass. (Necessary caveat: this is all sourced to people in the community, UCB and its PR do not return my messages, none of this is officially confirmed.)
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Seth Simons
The big picture is that UCB is indeed on the brink. In an email to staff last week, HR director Alyssa Cohen described the company's financial hardships as life-threatening. She warned that while the coming changes will be difficult, they are for the good of UCB.
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
Obviously what's good for UCB may not be good for the performer whose house team gets cut, the teacher who loses their job, etc. So there is a great deal of anxiety right now, especially among employees who had little transparency into payroll issues last month.
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
More will be clear tomorrow. And it seems certain to be bad. I would just hope that people keep a few things in mind as these announcements come out.
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
I'd wager good money UCB will say these are inevitable costs of running a business in NYC and LA. That's not exactly true: they are inevitable costs of running a business *poorly* in NYC and LA.
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
Again & again UCB's owners chose to invest in real estate rather than their own workforce. Charna Halpern did that too—a few years later, iO West closed with barely a week's notice. These things happen, but they are not inevitable; they are the results of decisions made by people
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
Related to this is coach pay. In June, UCB announced it would soon begin paying house team coaches. Some people I've spoken to think they might now go back on that; others suspect they might frame cutting teams as necessary to afford paying coaches.
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
No matter what happens, it is important to reject any suggestion that UCB's survival depends on the continued non-payment of performers and coaches. This is backwards: a business that cannot pay its workers is already a business that cannot survive.
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
(I am a broken record on this front, but it is also important to remember that not paying performers, i.e. UCB's core business model, is *very probably illegal*, and the suggestion should be rejected on those grounds as well )
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
I also hope that moving forward, UCB performers seriously consider the benefits of unionizing. It's not just about pay. It's about your future not being at the whims of people who will be fine whether or not you have a job and stage. It's about equity across the entire industry.
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
UCB might not want this, but comedy theaters around the country look to it as a model—whether positively or negatively. What happens there has ramifications for comedians everywhere, especially young comedians. And of course it's often a fairly direct pipeline into the industry…
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
….so I think it's worth paying attention to what happens this week, even if you don't have a direct stake. And it's probably not the best time for Amy Poehler to announce she's opening a wine store in Park Slope.
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
Okay, I think that's that, but do let me know if I fucked anything up
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J Crowley Dec 10
Replying to @sasimons
I say this every time someone talks about "how will small businesses stay open if they have to pay higher minimum wage?": if having to pay your workers enough to live is a threat, you don't have a business you have a bubble—one only kept afloat thanks to exploitation.
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Seth Simons Dec 10
Replying to @jdcrowley
yes! ugh
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