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    Posted March 27, 2009

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AEA North Texas Annual Meeting 1/26/09

Despite dire warnings of sleet and ice, almost 30 AEA members in the Dallas Fort Worth area turned out for the annual membership meeting on January 26th at Water Tower Theatre. Area Liaison Pam Dougherty introduced newly appointed Western Regional Director Mary Lou Westerfield to the group, and a healthy exchange of ideas and issues filled the evening.

Pam told the gathering about a new Festival Code that has been approved for use at Water Tower's annual Out of the Loop Festival. The new code is very similar to the Orlando Fringe Festival agreement, which is in turn based on the Members' Project Code. This new code will allow members to self-produce within the OTL framework and open the Festival to more participation by Equity members.

Member Kim Tutus told the gathering about plans for the Actors Fund to present a health care alternatives/insurance seminar this spring, with information tailored to North Texas. We hope that area members of SAG, AFTRA and S.T.A.G.E. will also participate, and former Liaison Sally Soldo will present the Lynn Mathis Annual Health Fair, which includes blood pressure and glucose testing.

Pam introduced the Liaison Committee in attendance (Lindsay Holloway, Deborah Brown, Connie Coit-Kitchens and Dennis Yslas), with absent members Gregory Lush, Dwight Sandell and Gail Cronauer all at tech rehearsals). Incumbent members Pam Dougherty, Linda Coleman, Connie Coit-Kitchens and Gail Cronaer were all re-elected to three year terms.

Mary Lou updated the group with news about LORT negotiations, and the Las Vegas contracts for THE LION KING and PEEPSHOW, as well as her attendance at an event in D.C. where a number of representatives from various arts and media organizations met with federal government officials. She also updated us on Equity's involvement with the national health care movement.

Discussion followed about the use and growth of the Umbrella agreement by a number of area theatres. Given the current economic climate, it was no surprise that much healthy debate ensued; but there is a general feeling among members that it is time for several of our Umbrella theatres to move on to a regular SPT Contract.

More discussion followed about the issue of vacation pay by area SPT theatres, Equity's position on national health care and an explanation about the rights/responsibilities of actors and SMs who've achieved their 50 weeks work as EMCs.

All in all, it was a good meeting with a healthy exchange of ideas and issues, and despite the frustrating national economic climate, we are all looking forward the future by the new administration, and we welcome Mary Lou in her new position!

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