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    Posted October 26, 2010

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Annual Meeting Highlights Local Producers

Setting the tone for this year's Annual Membership Meeting in Houston was a Question and Answer Forum for local Producers. Posing the question "How Can We Make Equity Work For You?" the session was moderated by Houston Liaison Chair Luisa Amaral-Smith and Western Regional Director Mary Lou Westerfield.

This year's event on Monday, October 18, was hosted by Main Street Theater at their Chelsea Market location. The hour-long session with producers ended with a reception for AEA members, Equity Membership Candidates, and producers, which was then followed by the Annual Meeting.

The Producers Forum focused on ways to ease the hiring process for local developing theaters and also on paymaster options in the area. Ms. Westerfield encouraged producers to contact Western Regional Business Reps for help in facilitating their individual issues. Liaison Chair Amaral-Smith thanked the gathering of producers for the good turnout and expressed her pleasure in seeing the "excitement and hope generated by the open and candid dialogue between Equity and the local theater representatives." Participating in the discussion were representatives from: Stages Repertory Theatre, Main Street Theater, Brave Dog Players, Texas Repertory Theatre, A. D. Players, The Country Playhouse, Houston Shakespeare Festival, Unity Theatre, Morningstar Theatrical Productions, The Ensemble, The Alley Theatre and various independent producers.

Following the reception, approximately twenty members reconvened for the Annual Meeting portion of the evening. Amaral-Smith called the meeting to order, and began by recognizing the new Houston area members in attendance. Westerfield reported that Houston area membership has now risen to well over the 200 mark. She also spoke about the ongoing planning for the AEA Centennial and urged the Liaison Committee and Membership to consider coordinating something at the local level. The discussion included the posting of the Liaison Committee's "How to Hire Me" flier as part of Houston's page on the Equity web site, as well as the in-progress redesign of Equity's IT Services, which when completed will aid in providing local business data on a timely basis as well as helping with smoother communications.

The Continuing Chair Amaral-Smith introduced ongoing members of the Liaison Committee; Vice Chair David Grant, Ron Jones, Tom McKinney, Chesley Santoro, Susan Shofner and Melodie Smith, and welcomed new members of the Committee; Janel Badrina, Jonathan Gonzalez, Carolyn Johnson and Debs Ramser. Before the meeting adjourned, members were urged to visit their individual Members Only Personal Profile to make sure all information was correct and to insure that they are registered to receive email notices coming from the Regional Office.

Members present for the Houston Annual Meeting included: (front row) Ron Jones, Jonathan Gonzalez, Pamela Vogel, Dwayne Thomas, David Grant; (middle row) Tom McKinney, Colleen Ashton, Melodie Smith, Dan O'Brien, Luisa Amaral-Smith, Celeste Roberts; (back row) Ralph Ehntholt, Julie Pare, Debs Ramser, Susan Shofner, Nicholas Collins.

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