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September 19, 2003

Actors' Equity Appoints Rob Roznowski As New Student Outreach and Membership Education Coordinator

Rob Roznowski

Rob Roznowski

Judy Kaye

Judy Kaye

new members

New members

"Extraordinary Response" Received from Students In Ground-Breaking Program - Outreach/Education to Be Expanded Through Training, Wider Participation

Actors' Equity has appointed Rob Roznowski as its new Student Outreach and Membership Education Coordinator. Equity Executive Director Alan Eisenberg announced the appointment effective September 8, 2003.

"We were delighted to have found a candidate like Rob, who has a boundless passion for theatre and education, for this vital staff position," said Eisenberg. "Mr. Roznowski will replace outgoing coordinator Christopher Eid, who is returning to his acting career after developing and implementing this highly successful program."

Equity's Student Outreach and Membership Education program began in 2001, when Council set a top priority: reaching out and educating theatre students and other potential future members about Actors' Equity and the benefits of union membership. Current Equity President Patrick Quinn and Eisenberg introduced the concept to the Council after learning about British Equity's program.

By 2003, the program had reached over 1,250 students at 33 colleges and schools, including many LORT-affiliated educational institutions such as Yale, Syracuse University, University of San Diego/Globe, ACT, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Asolo Conservatory at FSU, Boston University and Carnegie-Mellon. Besides various educational institutions, the new multi-media presentation has been done at New Member receptions in New York and Los Angeles.

Extraordinary Response - Best Union Outreach Program

"The response so far as been extraordinary," says Eisenberg, adding, "This is one of the best union outreach programs in the country. Young actors and stage managers are keenly interested in hearing the facts about Equity. Many of them have misperceptions that lead to a great deal of anxiety. The students greatly appreciate Equity's efforts to provide them with accurate information, both about Equity and about the business in general."

    Among students comments:
  • "Before, as I basically knew nothing, I was intimidated, etc. Now I understand the union as a 'for the actors organization.'"
  • "I have a higher respect for it, more knowledgeable, understanding...this is a union that I would join."
  • "It is truly a huge resource professionally and practically."

The reaction from teachers and college administrators has been similarly positive. Many training programs are beginning to realize the importance of providing information about "the business of the business," even though they do not always have the resources to develop a specialized curriculum in that area.

Passion for Education and Theatre

An Equity member since 1990, Rob Roznowski received his BFA from Point Park College in Pittsburgh and his Master of Fine Arts from Ohio State University. He comes to Equity with and extensive background in theatre, business and education.

Rob appeared in the original off-Broadway and Los Angeles companies of the long-running musical, I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE, and can be heard on the cast album of that show. His work in regional theatres includes the Goodspeed Opera House, Pittsburgh Public Theatre and Long Wharf Theatre. Rob joined AEA on a Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) contract for Theatreworks/USA where he met his partner of thirteen years. He has served on the faculties of Marymount Manhattan College, SUNY/Stonybrook, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and at Stephens College in Missouri, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award.

Rob freely admits that when he joined, he was an "uninformed union member" - using only a few of the many services offered by Equity, such as VITA (Volunteer Information Tax Assistance) and skimming Equity News - while feeling free to complain about and judge the union's choices. Since joining the staff, he has been "overwhelmed" by the support and commitment that Equity demonstrates for each member's specific needs.

One of his goals as the new Student Outreach and Membership Education Coordinator is to get the word out to "casual" union members and to direct their concerns to the proper channels. Another part of his focus will be to expand on the excellent work of his predecessor, Christopher Eid. Using Christopher's groundwork, Rob sees his new job as an opportunity to humanize and demystify the Union to potential members, as well as to educate future audience members about the importance of Actors' Equity.

Expanding Outreach Through Training and Wider Participation

With over 400 college level theatre-training programs in the US, Equity initially focused on LORT-affiliated institutions. Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback, and a strong desire to get the Union's message out to potential members, Equity plans to implement the program on a much wider basis.

Rob will finalize a syllabus that can be adapted for presentations by volunteers, who will receive one-on-one training from Equity staff members across the country. "The new seminars will focus on the resources Equity has in those areas, as well as nationally," added Rob. " For example, a Chicago Equity actor will be more in tune with the local scene and have a better connection with the colleges, resources and training programs in his or her area, which he or she can incorporate into a presentation. It is imperative to impress students in these formative years with the vital importance of AEA's work. Hopefully, these seminars will do just that."

Besides his regular duties, Rob will also continue to visit colleges and schools and oversee and improve the New Member receptions in Equity office cities. "I am very excited about working with students, new members, educators and volunteers to expand Equity's powerful programs," said Rob.

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