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May 3, 2004

Equity Goes to Capitol Hill for Arts Advocacy Day

Regional Directors Push for Arts Funding, Right to Organize

Eastern Regional Director Carol Waaser, Central Regional Director Kathryn Lamkey, Western Regional Director John Holly and Consultant Jack Goldstein traveled to Washington on March 31, 2004 to participate in lobbying on Arts Advocacy Day. Together the Equity contingent went to the offices of all Senators from New York, Illinois and California. They then split up for appointments with Representatives from the three areas. In all, over 20 congressional offices were visited.

In addition to voicing Equity's support for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and Arts in Education, Equity encouraged Senators and Representatives to support the Employee Free Choice Act, which would simplify organizing efforts to represent employees. Packets containing Equity's position on the various issues were distributed to the legislators from the three states. In their meetings the Regional Directors also discussed the current Production Contract negotiations.

Ms. Waaser and Mr. Goldstein met with aides of Representatives Nita Lowey, Jerrold Nadler, Charles Rangel, Vito Fossella, Sue Kelly and Louise Slaughter. The meetings were beneficial and in some cases led to further discussion of the role of Clear Channel in the entertainment industry.

John Holly met Senator Barbara Boxer and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and had productive meetings with Ms. Pelosi's Policy Advisor and with the Press Secretary to Representative Wally Herger.

Kathryn Lamkey met with aides to Speaker Dennis Hastert, Congresswoman Judy Biggert and Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. Representative Jackson is a co-sponsor of the Free Choice Act and although Speaker Hastert and Representative Biggert aren't in support of the bill, both expressed an understanding of how Equity's organizing efforts in short term employment are different than that of most unions. One of the more interesting meetings of the day was with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. Ms. Schakowsky, an advocate for the arts, and Ms. Lamkey had an in depth discussion about arts funding and other issues. A follow-up discussion is to be scheduled with the Congresswoman.

This was the first time that the Central and Western Regional Directors participated in Arts Advocacy Day. Their presence was significant as it made clear for significant numbers of legislators, that Equity is a national organization and that its members can be seen on their home town stages as well as on Broadway.

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