Strip Club Dancers Return To Work With Actors’ Equity Representation

Last September I made a post about strippers working at a club in Los Angeles who were approaching Actors’ Equity Association to help them unionize their workplace. Today I saw on that they had indeed held a successful unionization vote under the auspices of Equity last May (NPR story).

While the setting of the strike may add a salacious air to the story, the basic details of the effort are pretty common across all unionization fights. The dancers forming the union were contesting their categorization as contractors rather then employees, seeking better working conditions, and better assurances of their safety and security. There were lock outs, picketing, suits contesting the dancers’ right to form a union.

It appears they don’t have a contract yet, but the dancers returned to work at the end of August in a gesture of mutual trust based on physical improvements that had been made during renovations as well as changes in policy and practice.

Actors’ Equity suggests that the legal rulings that lead to this may set a precedent for other workers in the beauty and entertainment industries to be categorized as employees rather than contractors.

Strength Of Intent To Return May Be Stronger Predictor Of Return Than Even Enjoyment Of Experience

I recently received an email which directed me to a 2021 study funded by the Wallace Foundation called, What They Say And What They Do which essentially looked at whether people who say they will return to a venue actually do.

Bottom line is yes, the more strongly people express a desire to return, the more likely they are to return. However, as with everything, there are some interesting nuances.

A couple disclaimers, most of which appear right at the start of the presentation. First, this research was conducted pre-Covid. Second, the three organizations that participated were “large, well-established in their discipline and predominantly white.” (Goodman Theatre, Lyric Opera, both in Chicago and Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle.) So your mileage may vary.

The study was conducted across the 2014-2019 seasons. Single ticket buyers were surveyed about their interest in returning and then the organizations cross referenced that data with whether the people actually purchased again. The presentation also notes that people who fill out surveys are already engaged with the organization and therefore more inclined to return. Certainly there were many who didn’t fill out the survey that may have returned. I also wondered how many may have returned where a different family member purchased the tickets and used a different email or mailing address that might have been missed.

The finding was that the stronger people expressed their interest in returning on a Likert scale, the more likely they were to return – 49% of single ticket buyers responding as “definitely” and 31% responding “probably” returned within two years. Interestingly, while enjoyment and overall experience were also associated with an actual return, these factors weren’t as strong a predictor of return as stated intent to return.

Based on these responses, the Goodman Theater focused more expensive marketing efforts on those responding they would definitely return and experienced a higher return with that group.

While those 65 and older had slightly higher rates of return, the relation between strength of stated intent to return with an actual return held true across all age groups.

What I really found interesting was that what people said they did or didn’t like was the same whether they returned or not.  The presentation has charts which show responses to enjoyment of the performance and quality of  experience don’t vary a lot between those who do and don’t return. But the word clouds generated from the comments really illustrate how little difference positive and negative elements factored in to whether people returned or not.

I have seen a number of studies saying if you can only ask one question on a survey, it should be whether you would recommend an experience to a friend. Whether you will return yourself seems closely related to that question. While this data is definitely limited, there are hints that stated willingness to return may be a strong indicator that someone will.

Another Effort At Efficiently Crunching 990 Data

Thanks to the Non-Profit Law Blog’s weekly curated link list, I learned that there is a new collaborative working on a way to provide a clearinghouse for raw, clean, and standardized nonprofit tax data gathered from Form 990 filings.

While that may not sound like it is relevant to your daily life at all, being able to easily access that day will make researching non-profits much easier, hopefully resulting in data which will support better decision making.

Drew McManus painstakingly extracted data from 990 filings from 2005 to 2022 for his annual Orchestra Compensation Report project on Adaptistration. He would frequently grumble about the fact that the data was not available in a machine readable format that would make that data so much easier to process and shift through. If I recall correctly, his go to source was the Pro Publica Non Profit Explorer which is contributing their data to this new clearinghouse.

Having good data about things like compensation can help advance equity and inclusion goals. The Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) is engaged in an Art Compensation Project for some of these very reasons.

Better data crunching capabilities can also facilitate the study of differences by region and discipline for revenues, expenses, impact of private vs. public & government based grant making, etc.

Given that there have been so many groups who have attempted to serve as a clearinghouse for 990 data, the biggest question perhaps is whether this new collaboration can make it work better than in the past.

You’re Not Hiring Them To Fit In

There was a short piece in Fast Company today that discusses hiring employees in similar terms to what is required to broaden and diversify audiences – You have to hire for the company culture you want rather than hiring someone to fit existing work culture.  Basically, you can’t expect the changes you want to happen by forcing new hires to conform and fit in. Effort needs to be made to support and acknowledge the change new hires are bringing to the organization. (my emphasis)

I’ve found that companies genuinely committed to improving their workplace cultures also have another set of priorities. They look for candidates with a proven record of curiosity, innovation, and making change inside organizations.


To attract changemakers, organizations should demonstrate a genuine commitment to fostering this kind of internal innovation. In company events and full staff meetings, highlight employees who have called out problems, suggested solutions, and improved how the organization operates. One company even rewards employees for making new and interesting mistakes, showing that it supports employees taking risks and trying out new things.

Committing to changing organizational culture needs full investment because it is the right thing to do rather than the thing people expect the organization to do. It has been noted that a lot of the diversity and equity leader hires that occurred in the wave after the George Floyd protests have started to disappear, frequently due to the lack of internal support and delegated authority provided to those hired. Companies would loudly announce their commitment to change, but because there was no accountability, layoffs and resignations followed.