The Power of Unions: Average NYC Stagehand Salary


"This isn't America anymore, Toto."

Inquiring minds are now understanding why Broadway play tickets are so expensive…it’s the salaries of the ‘little’ people:

Columnist James Ahearn of New Jersey’s Bergen Record has a great column today on, of all things, the stagehands at New York city’s top performing arts venues such as Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. These are not highly skilled or technical jobs but take a gander at how much they are paid:

At Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, the average stagehand salary and benefits package is $290,000 a year.

To repeat, that is the average compensation of all the workers who move musicians’ chairs into place and hang lights, not the pay of the top five.

Across the plaza at the Metropolitan Opera, a spokesman said stagehands rarely broke into the top-five category. But a couple of years ago, one did. The props master, James Blumenfeld, got $334,000 at that time, including some vacation back pay.

Ahern also notes that the top paid stagehand at Carnegie Hall makes $422,599 a year in salary, plus $107,445 in benefits and deferred compensation. So why such exorbitant pay? You probably already guessed that a union is involved…

And then another question needing to be asked: How much of these salaries is because of government subsidies to the arts?

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2 Responses

  1. Average teacher salary in CA. is over $70,000.per NEA, plus addtiional $30,000. in medical and retirement benefits.
    Not bad for a 9 month a year job, with retirement at age 50.

  2. Roger: obviously you have no idea what goes into being a teacher, and the demands on them during the school year. The certifications and licenses and all that bs that they have to keep up with out of their own pocket. Plus 30 kids screaming at you all day, then grading papers all night, you should get a couple months off,… of course after you’ve filled out endless paper work on EACH student at the end of the year.

    I don’t know what your comment has to do with stagehands making almost $500k.

    Good teachers should be making a good amount of money, more than $70k a year IMO. After all they are creating the future of this country.

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