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   April 30, 2016

Evolution

by Kate Shindle


AEA President Nick Wyman

President Kate Shindle

When I was elected last May, one of my top priorities was to evolve the ways in which Actors’ Equity communicates with our members. Thanks to some amazing work from our communications staff and the Equity News committee, this long-gestating project has finally come to fruition. In addition to bringing our union publication in line with most of our sister unions and guilds, this new format — a quarterly glossy is actually cheaper to produce and distribute than a monthly newspaper — will save the union money. And it’s pretty.

Mostly, I am thrilled because for the first time, we will have the space to delve more deeply into things that concern and involve our members. This first issue, for example, shines a light on the critically important topic of sexual harassment in our industry. And we need to have that conversation for so many reasons. Because we live, work and interact with our colleagues in far more intimate and personal ways than most employees.  Because our business usually and uniquely lacks standard corporate HR oversight. Because the criteria by which we are hired are almost entirely subjective. Because in more ways than perhaps any other industry, we have to expand our thinking about this topic. I am every bit as concerned about young chorus boys right out of college, for example, being sexually harassed or pressured into some kind of quid pro quo. The myth of sexual harassment is that it is only a women’s issue. We cannot afford to think of it that way.

There are all sorts of ways in which a few bad apples can convince actors that their careers will benefit from either tolerating sexual harassment or standing by and not reporting what they observe in the workplace.  And it’s a small enough industry that, if our members don’t have the tools to stand up for themselves and their colleagues, it’s very easy to gain a reputation — fairly or unfairly — that makes them targets for ongoing harassment on future jobs.  I very much want Actors’ Equity to take a leadership role in these kinds of big-picture industry discussions, and the additional real estate within this new format will provide us with more opportunities to do so.

In the months to come, look for new and interesting features within these pages.  A significant portion of Equity News has always been — and will continue to be — devoted to informing our members about what has already happened. The new format will give us a long-awaited ability to explore what could happen. What do our members really want to talk about? How can we increase our reach, engage actors and stage managers across the country and educate them as to where the business is, where it is going and how Equity is helping it to get there? What are the unique challenges facing performers’ unions, as opposed to the things we have in common with the broader labor movement? What about issues like diversity in casting, or opportunities for performers with disabilities? These are the types of topics we will be able to explore, in a forward-facing manner, in the new incarnation of this publication.
Additionally, we’re going to be rolling out all kinds of content, across several formats and delivery platforms.  All of it is aimed at making Equity a better-connected, reliable source of news and information for our members. We have amped up our social media game, which you’ll see if you follow @ActorsEquity and @AskIfItsEquity on Twitter (while you’re at it, take a minute to follow me at @AEAPresident on Twitter and the nascent @ActorsEquityPresident on Instagram). We are aiming for a more inclusive union, especially for those who live outside office cities; if you couldn’t attend our recent tax seminar, for example, you can pull a lot of the tax tips from our live tweets. 

Over on the website, you’ll soon notice the Equity News Center, which will supplement Equity News with an RSS feed, an assortment of blogs, and real-time informational updates. We’re overhauling Casting Call, which is a necessary precursor to our upcoming launch of online ECC (followed by EPA) signups. And in the not-too-distant future, we plan to add video and audio content to both the site and Equity’s heretofore underused YouTube channel.  It’s an exciting time to explore the possibilities of digital communication, and it’s time for Equity to use every tool that is available to us.

I could not be more thrilled for Equity News, which for the union’s first century has been a fixture of the distribution of information, to become a tool with which Actors’ Equity can lead. Enjoy.


Contact President Kate Shindle at president@actorsequity.org.

 

From the President Archives

President Shindle's Inaugural Column

Labor Day, Unions for Artists and the Value of Unity

When in doubt, ask The Actors Fund

On Gratitude

Unsung Heroes

Changing the World, One Benefit at a Time

Evolution

On Progress

 
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