On Monday, April 13, a concert titled “Celebrating 25 Magical Years of Disney on Broadway” was scheduled to be streamed. This event, filmed in November, is an anniversary celebration of Disney’s footprint on the Broadway stage beginning in 1994 with “Beauty and the Beast” at the Palace Theatre. Though the stream was to be free to the public, money was being raised for the COVID-19 fund.
However, on April 12, the day before the stream, American Federation of Musicians President Ray Hair made the decision to cancel the digital event, saying:
“When you treat musicians as if they were slaves, you reap the consequences” and “We are in a zero employment situation. I am waiving nothing. That’s final. You should want to pay the musicians, who have no income during this crisis.”
Soon after this announcement, a petition was created on Change.org to reverse this decision and stream the event anyway. The musicians stated:
“We acknowledge that [Hair] is working hard to protect the rights of the membership, but we as an orchestra are happy to forgo any payment for the streaming of this charitable event, especially in light of the additional $25,000 of support [Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS] offered to donate on our behalf to the Local 802 Emergency Relief Fund.”
This petition has led to an official reversal which was announced on April 13 with an updated statement from Ray Hair:
“We stand in solidarity with our fellow entertainment workers in Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA. We believe all musicians should be fairly compensated for their work all of the time, but we also believe that we must do everything possible to support entertainment workers hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. We fully support the union musicians who have graciously offered to forgo all required payments to allow this charity event to move forward.”
The new date for the stream is yet to be announced.