good neighbour

Good Neighbour is an international guest membership program for theatre writers and active members of The Dramatists Guild of America and the Writers' Guild of Great Britain. Good Neighbour allows theater writers to enjoy certain benefits of the respective organizations while working or visiting Great Britain or the United States.

FOR WGGB MEMBERS

  • Working in the US under a Guest Membership

    As a member of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, when you visit the US to launch a production of your work, your WGGB membership provides you a guest membership and free temporary access to some of the benefits of Dramatists Guild membership for the length of your working visit. You must notify WGGB of your working visit so they can coordinate your membership. Should you need to consult the Dramatists Guild extensively during a production run or find yourself in the United States for work on a regular basis, joining the Dramatists Guild as a member is recommended.

    Guest Membership benefits include:

    • Basic information about navigating the area you’re visiting.
    • A named point of contact in the US, who can help you should any difficulties arise.
    • Professional advice via the DG Business Affairs department.
    • Access to free theatre tickets via our national Playwrights Welcome program.

  • Visiting the US under a Guest Membership

    As a member of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain, when you visit the US, your WGGB membership provides you access to free theatre tickets via our national Playwrights Welcome US program. You must notify the WGGB of your visit so they can coordinate your temporary access.

  • Become a Member of the Dramatists Guild

    Should Writers' Guild of Great Britain members need to consult the Dramatists Guild extensively during a production run or work in the United States on a regular basis, joining the Dramatists Guild as a member is recommended. Active members receive access to model contracts, the Dramatists Guild website, the BA Help Desk, the online Resource Directory, and The Dramatist magazine in addition to discounts on tickets and software. JOIN THE GUILD.

  • What is The Dramatists Guild?

    The Dramatists Guild of America is the trade association of playwrights, librettists, composers, and lyricists writing for the stage in the United States and the only one of its kind. Past presidents have included Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Moss Hart, Alan Jay Lerner, Robert Sherwood, Robert Anderson, Frank Gilroy, Peter Stone, John Weidman, and Stephen Schwartz.

    Past Guild members have included Eugene O’Neill, Mae West, Sam Shepard, Langston Hughes, Lanford Wilson, George S. Kaufman, Maya Angelou, Mary Rodgers, Arthur Miller, Lillian Hellman, Frank Loesser, Wendy Wasserstein, Mary Rodgers, Ray Bradbury,  Lorraine Hansberry, Frederick Loewe, Alice Childress, Duke Ellington, George M. Cohan, Comden & Green, Donna Summer, Edward Albee, and Tennessee Williams.

    Since its establishment in 1919, the mission of the Guild has been to provide its members with education, advocacy, opportunity, and community. The Guild carries out its mission by:

    • Maintaining, for use by its members, a contract that is applicable to first-class productions in the United States;

    • Formulating other forms of model contracts and offering business advice to its members, including information about industry standards, copyright, and free expression;

    • Promoting and protecting the interests of authors in their works, including their rights of property, artistic integrity and compensation, and the conditions under which those works are created and presented;

    • Working with theatrical institutions, schools, governmental agencies, nonprofits, and commercial entities, to educate them on the rights that dramatic writers have in their works;

    • Creating programs and publications to educate dramatic writers, in order to help them develop their craft, enhance their understanding of the theater business, and expand their professional opportunities; and

    • Speaking out as an organization, and through its individual members, on issues which affect the role of dramatic authors in the theatre and in society in general.

    In fulfilling its mission, the Guild recognizes that much of the creative work of authorship is undertaken in isolation, so the Guild fosters a sense of union and community among its members in order to enrich, inspire and empower them to advocate for themselves, for their work, and for each other. In this way, Guild members come to realize that if they do not advance together, they do not advance at all.

    The Dramatists Guild of America is committed to exposing and eliminating the systemic biases that exist in all aspects of our field. We commit to doing this both within our own organization and with advocacy throughout our field. We take on this commitment on behalf of the plurality of our members whose career paths are made demonstrably steeper by an unequal distribution of resources, mentorships, recognition, and productions. We take on this commitment because when opportunities are disproportionately concentrated in one narrow demographic, our stages are deprived of a full accounting of the world we live in. The Dramatists Guild invites all members of the theatre community to join us in taking concrete steps to challenge stereotypes of otherness and to address conscious and unconscious bias in our decision-making processes.

FOR DG MEMBERS

  • Working in the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales) under a Guest Membership

    As a member of Dramatists Guild, when you visit the UK to launch a professional production of your work, your DG membership provides you a guest membership and free temporary access to some of the benefits of WGGB membership for the length of your working visit. You must notify the Dramatists Guild of your working visit so they can coordinate your membership. Should you need to consult the WGGB extensively during a production run or find yourself in the UK for work on a regular basis, joining the WGGB as a member is recommended.

    Guest Membership benefits include:
    • Basic information about navigating the area you’re visiting.
    • A named point of contact in the UK, who can help you should any difficulties arise.
    • Professional advice via the WGGB office staff.
    • Temporary membership of the WGGB Theatre Facebook group, to facilitate connection with the local writing community.

  • Visting the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales) under a Guest Membership

    LAUNCHING 2020-2021

    As a member of the Dramatists Guild when you visit the UK, your DG membership provides you access to free theatre tickets via our Playwrights Welcome UK program. You must notify the Dramatists Guild of your visit so they can coordinate your temporary access to Playwrights Welcome UK.

    Contact the Dramatists Guild here.

  • Become a Member of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain

    Should Dramatists Guild members need to consult the WGGB extensively during a production run or work in the UK on a regular basis, joining the WGGB as a member is recommended.

    Full Membership of WGGB is open to professional writers working in the fields of TV, theatre, film, radio, books, poetry, animation and videogames. Aspiring and emerging writers can join as Candidate Members and upgrade their membership after they receive professional credits. There is also an Affiliate Membership tier.

    JOIN THE UNION.

  • What is the Writers' Guild of Great Britain?

    The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) is a trade union representing professional writers in TV, film, theatre, radio, books, comedy, poetry, animation and videogames. Members also include emerging and aspiring writers.

    Since 1959, the WGGB negotiates on behalf of professional writers for better pay and working conditions. The national agreements the WGGB has in place cover key industry bodies, including the BBC, ITV, Pact; National Theatre, Royal Court and Royal Shakespeare Company (see some recent wins for writers).

    WGGB lobbies and campaigns on behalf of writers, to ensure their voices are heard in a rapidly changing digital landscape.

    WGGB offers a range of benefits to its members, including free training, contract vetting, a pension scheme, Welfare Fund, entry to the Find A Writer directory, a weekly ebulletin, plus member-only events and discounts.

    The Writers’ Guild Awards ceremony is an annual, red-carpet event that has featured high-profile winners since it first launched in 1961. The evening gives writers the chance to honour their peers, and to celebrate the importance of writers and writing to the creative industries, in the UK and abroad.

    There are plenty of opportunities for WGGB members to get involved in the running of their union, through the regional or craft committees, or by becoming a member of WGGB’s decision-making body, the Executive Council (EC). You can see some examples of their recent activity in the annual report.

    WGGB has three different membership bands. Full Members, Candidate Members, and Affiliate Members. More information about these types of membership can be found here.

    Listen to a podcast of author Nick Yapp talking about writing the history of WGGB for his book The Write Stuff.

Resources

  • American Theatre Contracts

    Because the Guild tracks national and worldwide trends, we are able to provide certain model contracts that reflect up-to-date industry standards. We encourage our members to use these models to educate themselves and use as a guide when entering into productions or collaborations.

    Most of our contracts are available to download as PDF files. The first-class Approved Production Contract for Plays and Approved Production Contract for Musicals (APC) must be purchased and are available in a printed booklet. Please note that members must pay additional dues (i.e., “assessments”) based on the members’ royalties earned from productions presented under the APC. For more about assessments, please visit the Assessments information page.

    Only current members of the Guild may view, download, or request sample contracts.

    NEW! DEVISED THEATRE CONTRACTS

    • DEVISED THEATRE AGREEMENTS & MANUAL
      Four contract models designed specifically for devised theater. Accompanying the contract models is an innovative Devised Theater Resource Manual, which includes, among other things, an explanation of legal principles, discussions about craft, and a glossary of terms.

    PRODUCTION CONTRACTS

    • FORM OF LICENSING AGREEMENT
      A basic license, it grants the rights for a producer to produce a production without granting the subsidiary rights and future options that might go along with a premiere. This contract is short, straightforward and not intimidating, and it is especially useful when an author and producer are looking to enter into a very simple agreement, especially for amateur and school/university productions.
    • APPROVED PRODUCTION CONTRACT FOR MUSICALS
      Form contract for Broadway/First Class musical productions. Requires Guild certification. The Executive or Associate Director must approve all requests for APCs before they can be released. Please email Kristin Kapinos at kkapinos@dramatistsguild.com for more information.
    • APPROVED PRODUCTION CONTRACT FOR PLAYS
      Form contract for Broadway/First Class straight plays. Requires Guild certification. The Executive or Associate Director must approve all requests for APCs before they can be released. Please email Kristin Kapinos at kkapinos@dramatistsguild.com for more information.
    • PREMIERE PRODUCTION CONTRACT – NY/LA
      Form of small theatre contract for theatres presenting professional, premiere productions in the New York or Los Angeles areas. This agreement is not intended to be used at the LORT, Off-Broadway or Broadway levels.
    • PREMIERE PRODUCTION CONTRACT – NATIONAL
      Form of small theatre contract for theatres presenting professional, premiere productions. This agreement is not intended to be used at the LORT, Off-Broadway or Broadway levels.
    • OBC – OFF-BROADWAY CONTRACT
      Form contract for Off-Broadway play or musical productions.

    COLLABORATION AGREEMENTS

    • FORM OF COLLABORATION AGREEMENT FOR MUSICALS
      Form agreement for collaboration between authors writing a musical. It is in the best interest of parties to enter into a collaboration agreement early in the creative process, to avoid potential difficulties that could arise at a later time.
    • FORM OF COLLABORATION AGREEMENT FOR PLAYS
      Form agreement for collaboration between authors writing a straight play. It is in the best interest of parties to enter into a collaboration agreement early in the creative process, to avoid potential difficulties that could arise at a later time.

    COMMISSION AGREEMENT

    • FORM OF COMMISSION AGREEMENT (PLAYS/MUSICALS)
      Agreement between a commissioning producer and author(s) to write and revise a script. The author(s) retain(s) the sole ownership of the play and maintain(s) control over additions, changes, and modifications. This agreement covers only the writing of a new piece and the producer’s right to acquire the option to produce the work. It does not cover the production of the work’s premiere, for which a separate contract must be entered into.

    UNDERLYING RIGHTS AGREEMENTS

    • FORM OF UNDERLYING RIGHTS FOR MUSICALS
      Form of an option agreement used for an author to obtain the basic right to adapt a work as a musical from an existing work in which a second author holds copyright. This form only deals with the acquisition of the option to adapt a copyrighted work and hold a staged reading. It does not guarantee the right to stage an actual production beyond the initial presentation.
    • FORM OF UNDERLYING RIGHTS FOR PLAYS
      Form of an option agreement used for an author to obtain the basic right to adapt a work as a straight play from an existing work in which a second author holds copyright. This form only deals with the acquisition of the option to adapt a copyrighted work and hold a staged reading. It does not guarantee the right to stage an actual production beyond the initial presentation.

    ADDITIONAL DG GUIDELINES

    • CONSIDERATIONS FOR “DIRECTOR AGREEMENTS”
      DG’s recommended considerations for the rare circumstances in which a director’s extraordinary contributions to a work transcend dramaturgy, and the author elects to assign a portion of the work’s future revenues to the director.
    • DG BEST PRACTICES: CONTESTS AND FESTIVALS
      Guidelines devised by the DG Festival Committee meant to be used by playwrights when weighing contest and festival submission opportunities. These guidelines reflect ideal industry standards rather than minimum standards.
  • British Theater Agreements

    The opening of the National Theatre in the mid-70s enabled WGGB to negotiate theatre Agreements with – at first – the three major national companies (the National, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Court, grouped together in the Theatres National Council, or TNC).

    In the early 1980s, WGGB negotiated an Agreement with the management body for the other subsidized London “off-west end” theatres, the regional theatres and the major subsidized touring companies (then called the Theatrical Management Association, now UK Theatre).

    A third Agreement, with the Independent Theatre Council (small scale companies, not usually in receipt of regular subsidy) followed in 1991.

    WGGB does not have an Agreement with the commercial sector. All of our Agreements are periodically reviewed.

    Unlike the WGA, the WGGB is not and (legally) cannot be a closed union shop, but our Agreements apply to all playwrights working in the relevant sectors, whether members or not. WGGB agreements are minimum term (ie agents can negotiate better deals for playwrights, but not accept worse) and the TNC and UKT Agreements are legally binding on the theatres they cover. This means that any playwright, from Britain or overseas, whether or not a member of WGGB, should be offered terms no less beneficial than those in the relevant agreements. If they are not offered such a contract, then their agent should inform WGGB.

    All three Agreements are periodically revised and updated in negotiation.

    NATIONAL THEATRE, ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY, ROYAL COURT

    • THE TNC AGREEMENT
    • As the first to be negotiated, the TNC Agreement established the basic principles of all playwrights’ agreements:
    • Writers are paid a guaranteed upfront commission fee and a delivery fee (when they submit the play) as well as an acceptance fee and a percentage royalty. Some or all of the up-front sums are set against royalties.
    • Writers of non-commissioned plays are paid the same fees up front as writers of commissioned plays.
    • Management participation by the originating company in a writer’s future earnings is limited by a threshold (ie writers pay a proportion of their future earnings from the play to the management, but only after a threshold figure of earning is passed. The threshold is currently £35,000).
    • Playwrights enjoy a “bill of rights”, including rights to approve the choice of actors, director, designer and other members of the creative team, to maintain the play’s textual integrity, to attend rehearsals (and to be paid for so doing), and to be consulted over publicity.
    • The management has the right to buy exclusive options to transfer the play to the west end or abroad, for a limited period.

          The TNC Agreement was revised mildly in 1993 and in a major way in 2007. Major revisions in 2007 included:

    • The total up-front fee for a play was increased from £8,467 to £10,000, in all RSC, National Theatre and Royal Court spaces except for the Court’s smaller Theatre Upstairs. The up-front fee is now over £12,700.
    • Loopholes were removed in the rehearsal payment system, ensuring that playwrights are paid not just for attending rehearsals, but for attending workshops and readings, and undertaking other production-related tasks.
    • For the first time, the reimbursement of writers’ hotel and accommodation expenses were guaranteed, both during rehearsals and during workshops, auditions and research.
    • Writers were guaranteed control over the use of clips of their shows in publicity and on theatre websites.
    • The financial terms of the Agreement are periodically revised.

    REGIONAL THEATRES, LONDON “OFF-WEST END” THEATRES, SUBSIDIZED TOURING COMPANIES

    • THE UK THEATRE AGREEMENT 
    • The 1986 TMA (later UKT) Agreement shares the main provisions of the TNC agreements on commission/non-commission fees, percentage royalties, management participation only after a threshold of earnings has been passed, and a “bill of rights”, including the right to approve the choice of personnel, to maintain the play’s textual integrity, to attend rehearsals (and to be paid for so doing), and to be consulted over publicity.
    • Among the differences with the TNC agreement are that rehearsal attendance is subject to “the writer accepting the manager’s authority at the place of rehearsal” and that the theatre is only obliged to pay a playwright for 12 days of attendance.
    • The commission and other fees are lower than for TNC theatres and are in three bands, comparable to the bands applicable to actors’ salaries, negotiated by Equity.
    • The Agreement has been periodically revised, and WGGB negotiates a periodical increase in rates.

    SMALL-SCALE THEATRES AND THEATRE COMPANIES

    • INDEPENDENT THEATRE COUNCIL
    • The ITC Agreement is only binding on some of its members, but the Agreement serves as a template for contracts across the small-scale sector. Many of its provisions are based on the TNC and UKT Agreements. Provisions include:
    • payments for treatments, on commission, delivery and acceptance, and a first performance fee,
    • a royalty payment after the company has received over £50,000 of income from the play,
    • a non-commissioned payment system including a rewrite fee,
    • management participation of 8% of the writer’s future earnings from the play, for a period of five years.
    • a “bill of rights”, including the right to be consulted, and mutually to agree, the choice of actors and creative team, to maintain the play’s textual integrity, to attend rehearsals (and to be paid for so doing), and to be consulted over publicity.
    • Like the UKT agreement, rehearsal attendance is subject to “the writer accepting the manager’s authority at rehearsal”, and the theatre is only obliged to pay a playwright for six days of attendance.
  • How is theatre structured in the US?

    The main differences between theatre in the United States and the United Kingdom is defined by how theatrical productions are financed. Most commercial producers in the US receive funding from individual and corporate investors; the non-profit theaters are funded by sponsorships, grants, donations, subscriptions and single-ticket sales, but (unlike the UK) with only a relatively small amount of government support.

    Also, while many dramatists in America are members of the Dramatists Guild, the DG is a voluntary trade association (established in 1919), not a labor union like the Writers Guild of Great Britain, and is therefore not currently authorized to collectively bargain on behalf of its members.

    However, while no writer is required to join the Dramatists Guild, its members are required to license their Broadway production rights pursuant to the DG’s “Approved Production Contract” (the “APC”), which is counter-signed by the Guild to ensure that its members are maintaining minimum standards. This agreement, a version of which has been in effect since 1926, requires members to pay the Guild a small percentage of their royalties from productions presented under the contract.

    “Broadway” (the equivalent to the “West End”) is the center of commercial production in America, with 40 Tony Award-eligible stages in mid-town Manhattan. Broadway theaters earned over $1.7 billion dollars in gross revenues during the 2017-18 season ($1.4 billion in musicals alone).  These are primarily commercial “First Class” houses (over 500 seats) but a few of them are operated by non-profit theaters (Manhattan Theater Club, The Roundabout, Lincoln Center, and Second Stage).

    There are also chains of large commercial theaters throughout the U.S., where successful Broadway (and, sometimes, off-Broadway) productions are toured for limited runs, which generally commence after the initial Broadway production. A production may also “sit down” in a major city to present an open-ended run. Such tours and sit-down productions are generally produced pursuant to the rights originally granted to the producer under the APC, but some shows tour without ever having a Broadway run (tours in the 2017-18 season earned over $1.4 billion).

    Other commercial productions in New York are either “off-Broadway” (100-499 seats) or“off-off-Broadway (under 100 seats) as these categories are defined by various union contracts (including Actors Equity). The DG promulgates model agreements for such productions but does not certify or assess them.

    Non-profit theaters in New York and around the country are members of various theater associations (The League of Resident Theatres [“LORT”] is the largest, with over 75 theaters in 29 states). These non-profit theaters are funded through a combination of city, state and federal subsidies (including tax exemptions), as well as corporate sponsorships, foundation grants, individual donations, and earned income from subscriptions and single-ticket sales, as well as a small slice of the future royalties earned by writers whose works were premiered on their stages.

    Many LORTs program their seasons with limited runs of public domain classics, as well as post-Broadway tours or revivals licensed from “stock and amateur” publishers (like Samuel French and Dramatists Play Service).

    A non-profit theater’s production may later move to an open-ended commercial run, usually produced by, or in conjunction with, a commercial producer.  A new show is sometimes presented by a non-profit that is funded in part (i.e., “enhanced”) by acommercial producer who is developing a show on its way to Broadway.

    A non-profit may also “commission” a dramatist to write an original work for its audience (commission fees vary greatly throughout the country).  The DG has agreed to a range of recommended terms with many LORT theaters for their productions of new works, but LORT theater agreements are not subject to Guild review unless it’s a Tony-eligible production.

    In addition, there are also a wide range of festivals and contests, as well as developmentaland self-producing opportunities, around the country. There are also a growing number of companies that collaborate to “devise” new work.

    The DG offers guidelines and model agreements for all such activities, and business advice about how to navigate this archaic labyrinth of interlaced commercial and non-profit opportunities.

  • How is theatre structured in the UK?

    The main difference between theatre in the UK and the US (apart from how you spell the word) lies how theatre is financed. The West End theatre (equivalent to Broadway) is commercial, as are a few regional theatres and touring companies. However, most theatres and touring companies are subsidized by the Arts Councils of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales and by local councils.

    The subsidized sector includes:

    • the three major national companies (the National Theatre and the Royal Court Theatre in London, and the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford),

    • a number of smaller London theatres, usually focussing on the production of new plays, including Hampstead Theatre, the Almeida and the Donmar Warehouse (roughly equivalent to off-Broadway), some of whose shows transfer to the commercial sector in the West End,

    • around 35 regional repertory theatres, some of which have studio theatre spaces as well as a main house,

    • a number of well-established touring companies, including Cheek by Jowl, Out of Joint and Paines Plough,

    • a large number of small-scale theatres and theatre companies (in London and outside) which are usually financed by one-off grants, project by project. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe remains an important showcase for this work.

    The big changes in the structure of UK theatre and its repertoire over the last few years are:

    • a decline in the amount of public subsidy, particularly from local councils, and a consequent increase in fundraising from corporations and individuals, and new income raising schemes (like the live streaming of shows to cinemas),

    • an increasing overlap between the commercial and subsidized sectors, with many West End shows (including plays like the National Theatre’s War Horse and musicals like the RSC’s Matilda) being initially developed by subsidized companies,

    • an increase in the proportion of productions of new plays, which now exceed revivals in the UK theatre repertoire (for the first time since records began),

    • a much smaller, but significant, increase in the amount of devised work performed in the subsidized sector.

  • American Bill of Rights for Dramatists

    To view the Dramatis Guild’s Bill of Rights, visit this page.

  • British Rights Card for Writers

    To view the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain’s Rights Card, download it here.