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    Updated May 2, 2011

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A Plenary Panoply

AEA Councillors and Area Liaisons gathered at the recent AEA National Plenary

By Nick Wyman

As I had threatened in a previous column, the entire elected leadership of Actors' Equity - Officers, Councillors, non-Councillor Central Regional Board members and Area Liaisons - met for two days in New York City in mid-March. And what did we accomplish? Everything and nothing. Everything was put on the table and nothing was resolved - and this was by design. This Plenary/National Conference was not intended to be a normal Council meeting: I did not chair the meeting; there was not a series of resolutions to be voted up or down. Instead, Councillors, non-Councillor CRB members and Liaisons brought up ideas, suggestions and concerns arranged loosely around several general headings. These ideas and suggestions, as I saw it (and I took 41 pages of notes) fell into eight categories: Organizing/Developing Theatre; Supporting the non-office-city actor; Communication -with members, with the outside world; Use and Support of Liaisons; Public Policy; Committees; Governance/Relationship between Staff, Council & Membership; Services/Member Education.

Staff was present but limited their participation to listening and taking notes. On the other end of the spectrum, the Liaisons (who don't normally meet face to face) not only brought up many ideas and suggestions in the main body of the meetings, they also had three separate meetings on their own. One of these was a breakfast that I hosted for them, myself and Central Regional Director Kathryn Lamkey, who is the staff for the Liaisons. This was part of an effort to ensure that the Council and those Staff members present understood the life of the actor who lives outside the New York, Chicago or Los Angeles areas.

Having cast a wide net, we gathered in a dazzling panoply of ideas. The elected leadership, in consultation with the staff, will take the next year or so to sift through these ideas in strategic planning sessions. We will examine all these suggestions, and we are committed to fashion the best, most supportive, most efficient, most effective organization possible. Over the next twelve to fourteen months, we will be announcing a number of initiatives and new directions - all with the aim of becoming a better, more effective advocate and support for you. We are excited, and I hope you will be also.

Pictured here are:
Back Row: John Bostic (New Orleans), Kathi Koenig (Milwaukee/Madison), Tony Hodges (Phoenix/Tuscon), Dan Mooney (Milwaukee/Madison), Abner Genece (San Diego), Roger Curtis (Seattle), Mark Taylor (Florida-Central), Kelly Ground (San Francisco), Carl Randolph (Washington/Baltimore), Michael Dell’Orto (Boston), Don Gervasi (Buffalo/Rochester), Kip Niven (Kansas City), Chaz Grundy (Denver)

Middle Row: Terry Lynn Carlson (Minneapolis/St. Paul), Clara Harris (Cincinnati/Louisville), Luisa Amaral-Smith (Houston/Galveston), Doug Miller (Cleveland), Margot Moreland (Florida), Ingrid Sonnichsen (Pittsburgh), Joel Rene (Las Vegas)

Bottom Row: Kari Ely (St. Louis), Irene Adjan (Florida – South), Karen Howell (Atlanta), Babs George (Austin/San Antonio), Peggy Thorpe (Detroit), Pam Dougherty (Dallas/Ft. Worth), Tom Helmer (Philadelphia), Henry Haggard (Nashville)

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