‘Disney On Broadway’ Charity Streaming Event Cancelled Over Musicians’ Fees

Back in November, Disney celebrated 25 years on Broadway with a charity concert features songs and artists from the many shows produced by the Mouse House on the Great White Way.

The concert event, produced by Disney, served as a charity fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS bringing in over $570,000 to help folks.

Broadway Cares, which has been raising money for a COVID-19 assistance fund, sought to stream performances from the concert this coming Monday with actor Ryan McCartan weaving in interviews between performances.

And then a snag occurred.

From the NY Times:

Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA, the unions which represent actors and stage managers, agreed to allow the streaming of the concert without fees, but the American Federation of Musicians, which has been focused on winning greater compensation for streamed content, did not.

“Members of the American Federation of Musicians are suffering from the sudden cancellation of all work as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak,” the union’s international president, Ray Hair, said by email. “During the height of this crisis, Disney Theatrical has come to us asking to stream media content without payment to the musicians involved in the production. Especially now, with zero employment in the entertainment sector, the content producers should care enough about the welfare of those who originally performed the show to see to it that they are fairly compensated when their work is recorded and streamed throughout the world.”

“I understand being told no,” Tom Viola, the organization’s executive director, said in a statement. “When that happens — and it does — I can usually see why or understand the extenuating circumstances. It never feels simply meanspirited. This was different and the result, particularly now, is heartbreaking.”

Broadway Cares shares that, if forced to pay the musicians for an already recorded concert, the organization would have to pay the other unions.

Additionally, Broadway Cares has already given $50,000 this year to musicians’ assistance programs and offered to give another $25,000 to a musicians’ emergency fund, which Viola said would be more than the value of the payment Hair was seeking.

But Hair refused that offer, saying he wanted the 15 musicians, who were paid in November for their efforts then, paid their streaming rights.

You can check out a short montage of performances from the November concert event below.