Just before the Australian theatre industry's night of nights at the Helpmann Awards on Monday; 99 performers, actors and directors launched a campaign against the use of more foreign performers on Australian stages.

Big names such as Richard Roxburgh, Rachel Griffiths and Geoffrey Rush, signed an open letter to musical and theatre producers, calling on them to renegotiate a 20-year agreement on the use of foreign performers.

For 20 years, the number of foreign performers hired for Australian productions has been controlled via the Live Theatre Agreement, between the producers' association, Live Performance Australia, and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, in a bid to protect local jobs.

LPA, which represents subsidised and commercial producers and organises the Helpmanns, abandoned the agreement in April and has since refused to discuss the issue.

Australian performers are worried that the sudden termination of the agreement could mean producers will import not only international actors and performers, but entire productions. Thus leaving no opportunities for local casting and they will rely increasingly on overseas performers for lead roles in big productions.

In addition to the open letter, a petition so far gathering 516 signatures, has been created to further express disappointment at LPA's termination of  the Live Theatre Agreement and to develop new negotiations.

Add your voice to protect the future of Australian actors: http://www.livetheatre.org.au/petition/petition-to-live-performance-australia

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