We’re mixing up the format again this week as we sit down not with a designer, but with the man in charge of handling the contracts for ALL designers, it’s United Scenic Artists Business Rep for Live Performance, Carl Mulert. Carl is the go-to-guy for all contract and union related issues for designers working in theatre and he’s with us today to talk about everything you’ve always wanted to know about USA but were afraid to ask. Cory and Carl cover a multitude of topics including when to join the union, how to join, the different kinds of contracts covered by the union, how collective bargaining and negotiations work, how pension and welfare contributions work, how the union can help you, and how YOU can help strengthen the union. They also briefly discuss the difference between working in the US and working in the UK where designers are not covered by a union. This episode is a must listen for young designers going into the business and probably a good refresher for existing members. There’s a common phrase among designers who need assistance or have questions navigating their contracts…”Call Carl,” over the next two hours, it should become clear why. Enjoy!
Carl Mulert has worked in the entertainment business for 35 years in a career that has focused on the care and support of artists and how to provide better working conditions for those artists and their families. He has worked for non-profits as a theatre manager; as a literary and designer’s agent; and currently he is the Business Rep for Live Performance at United Scenic Artists.
After earning his BFA from Boston University in Theatrical Production he worked at Arena Stage in Washington DC under the final years of Zelda Fichandler’s tenure as founding artistic director. Following Arena, Carl moved to New York to assume the role of Production Manager at Playwrights Horizons under the leadership of Andre Bishop. PH was a home to some of America’s most prolific playwrights and during his time there including Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles for which Carl served as the Production Supervisor for the transfer to the Plymouth Theatre on Broadway.
After a brief stint as Managing Director of Virginia Stage Company, Carl was offered the chance to continue his work with Designers, Directors and Playwrights as an agent and partner at The Joyce Ketay Agency. His 15 year partnership with Joyce Ketay ended in 2006 when they sold the business and went to work at Gersh, where he stayed for four years.
In 2010, Carl joined United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829 IATSE, the Union representing Designers in Theatre, Opera and Dance across the country. In his 6+ years at the Union, he has been involved in contract negotiations with The Broadway League, LORT, the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera and the Ahmanson Theatre among others and his department oversees and enforces over 20 individual Collective Bargaining Agreements. He is currently running an organizing campaign to negotiate a first contract for design work Off Broadway. In 2014 he managed a Designer Organizing campaign which brought in over 400 new members. He has studied Labor Law at the Cornell University Institute for Labor Relations, attended the IATSE Officer Institute and is a graduate of the New York State AFL-CIO/Cornell Union Leadership Institute.