Patrick will be starring in the Last Cyclist at the West End Theater this May - June. Click here for info

Sunday, October 14, 2012

AEA Membership Meeting Guest Post by Darlene Hope

It's been a while since I posted. I know. I have a huge backlog of pics to add to this site for sure. That might be today's project later on. First, however, I wanted to pass along my very first guest blogger!  Darlene Hope (follow her on twitter) is a dear dear friend of mine and exceptionally talented. This past Friday was a membership meeting at AEA here on the East coast concerning Equity monitors and the state of Equity auditions.  I was unable to attend the meeting since I was in Connecticut at an audition (that I didn't book, le sigh). Darlene was there and was kind enough to write this up.  So here are the words of the amazing Darlene Hope.

"So FridayI attended the Actors Equity Membership Meeting to support our amazing volunteer EPA & ECC audition monitors. For those of you who are not aware, due to some unexplained legal snaffoo, the volunteer audition monitors that we have enjoyed must now be immediately replaced with paid staff. Equity made the decision to begin recruiting publicly for these positions...which pay a whopping $8.25 an hour. They did this without informing members of the change. What this means for members is that a new force of potentially non-union, non-industry, minimum wage workers will begin running all of our union auditions beginning in November. I was able to be one of many speakers on this subject yesterday at the meeting to hopefully show how devastating & poorly executed this decision was. My statement was not prepared, but it was heartfelt & honest. As an actor whose agent closed his doors during this recession, I have been almost entirely dependent on the EPA/ECC auditions to be seen by casting directors & theaters.  And although its not an ideal process, I've almost been cast in Broadway shows because of it. When you work it, this system works. But when you throw personnel into the mix who will potentially be the equivalent to fast food employees, and who potentially have no investment in the success of these calls, nor any knowledge of their value, then it could be devastating to actors like me, who are attempting to get jobs. I tried to relay how disappointed I was that our elected representatives did not communicate to members what was happening, nor did they aptly consider the ramifications of their hasty decisions on the members. Thankfully, my comments were heard, and questions were somewhat vaguely answered...which means a lot. But in going away, I still felt as if the elected Eastern Regional leadership still didn't "GET" how this change will effect the EPA/ECCs. And furthermore, I was not confident that the willingness was there to "GET" it at all. The atmosphere felt much more like that of a union/producer negotiation, than that of a union membership meeting. Aren't we all still supposed to be on the same side?? 

For those of you who were unable to attend, this membership meeting was the most largely attended in recent memory because of this issue. It matters! Sometime soon work will begin on a motion to update an Equity policy change so that our current volunteer member monitors will be able to continue in their role. As it is, most of them cannot because of a policy set in the 70s that "staff" may not audition for roles, serve on committees, etc, and they may not return to their positions should they book acting work. Thus, monitors must give up their careers as actors, and active union memberships in order to work. This is absurd!! This policy needs to change so that our current volunteer member monitors can continue the loyal stewardship that they love doing. As you hear about these upcoming petitions & policy changes, please pay attention & participate. Lets preserve the union audition process. Lets not increase the handicap that actors without representation face. Lets not change the "face" of our union to casting directors, producers, and theaters to some McMonitor who is non-union!!!"

I cannot thank Darlene enough for going to this meeting and for reporting back. It's an interesting state of affairs. I would also like to add that this decision not only effects we union members, but it effects all non-union who are the future of any union. These monitors who donate their time are also donating their knowledge. Many of which have been a part of the union and working within it for many many years. That's such an amazing resource for any actor. I know personally, when I was non-union, I annoyed the hell out of these monitors by asking so many questions. I'm sure I walked away with them thinking..."they let anybody into these things, don't they." In reality they were all too happy to help me out. And They have always been a positive boost before any audition offering encouragement and a smile.

One of our greatest resources before walking in that audition room is about to be taken away.