Performing arts

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October 14, 2007

If you've been out and about in Boston lately, you may have had a star sighting or two. Thanks to recent tax incentive laws in Massachusetts, Hollywood has come to town. That's been great news for local performers, and for the area economy.

For the first time, three major films were being produced and shot at the same time in "Bachelor No. 2," "The Women," and Steve Martin's "Pink Panther 2." The third is still in production, and more big films are headed here soon.

The three films provided work for more than 2,000 regional actors, according to Dona Sommers, executive director of the Screen Actors Guild, and the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists in New England.

Most performers supplement income with other jobs. Visit, for information.


Average salary: $29,770. Local union actors average $130 per day for background work, $759 for one-day speaking roles, but work is sporadic.

Demand: Improving. Film and TV production here is booming; live theater is doing well; but competition is strong.

Qualifications: Talent, experience, and hard work; dramatic arts training.


Average salary: $37,380 (dancers); $47,940 (choreographers). Size, type, and location of company influence pay. With large companies, dancers have contracts, but most work is sporadic.

Demand: Fairly good. Public interest is high, but so are costs; funding is tight and competition tough.

Qualifications: Formal training, professional auditions, and dedicated practice.


Average salary: $54,450. Varies widely; major symphony players and well-known performers can make big money; those working clubs often get sporadic work and low pay; other work, often teaching, is the norm for survival.

Demand: Mixed. Talented, hard-working individuals can find good, steady employment with major orchestras or church groups; musicians playing clubs or tours often struggle to find work.

Qualifications: Talent, experience, training, and good stage presence. University or conservatory training or private study important for most work.


Average salary: $56,830. Usually based on percentage of profits, so incomes vary according to success of show.

Demand: Fairly good, but highly competitive. Opportunities in live theater, television, commercials, and film.

Qualifications: Talent and broad experience in directing, acting, and/or writing; college courses and good technical skills.

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