Once again, IPA negotiations are upon us. And while the process can be demanding and often exasperating, it is in bargaining that a union plays its most crucial role in improving the circumstances for members as we improve the agreement under which we work.
Seeing many of you at the focus groups, I am left with the impression that Montreal members share the concerns of other members across the country; in particular, a strong desire to safeguard our jurisdiction over the use of technology in performances (ie. performance capture) and to maintain proper enforcement of the agreement. As always, our branch will be sending a dedicated and experienced performer to sit on the Negotiating Committee, in order to ensure that the interests of ACTRA Montreal members are suitably represented in bargaining.
Speaking of dedication, I’d like to congratulate all of the elected members of our new Branch Council. Some are familiar faces around the table, but I am especially energized by the capacity of our four new additions, representing a wealth of experience and diversity, exuberance and commitment.
Sarah Hansen, as a young performer, can speak to the issues that many young emerging artists must contend with. Simon Peacock is plugged in to the world of digital media and video games. Ian Finlay has been the Montreal representative on our National Commercial Agreement Negotiating Committee for more than a decade. Finally, from voice work to on-camera – whether in film, television, commercials or video games – Bruce Dinsmore does it all. And while it may be easy to identify each of them by their respective backgrounds and what value that, specifically, may bring to our Council, it is in fact their unique perspective on all issues that will help make this a strong Council.
I would be remiss if I did not also take this opportunity to acknowledge those on the past Council who are not returning: Taylor Baruchel, Phyllis Gooden, Tyler Hall, Marcel Jeannin, Vanessa Matsui and Michael Scherer. For their selfless contribution to our branch, I thank each of them and wish them all the very best.
Going forward, the Council will will take a concerted look at our branch and its services as well as our objectives and provisions for meeting those needs, as we map out an agenda for the next two years. Among our goals will be identifying candidates to sit as Alternates on our Council, in addition to establishing working committees like those for Stunt, Professional Development or Women, to address the issues important to our community.
Regarding the present two-year mandate, one decision that has already been taken by the Council has been to move to biennial ACTRA Awards. Our Awards will undoubtedly benefit from having a two-year period to accrue eligible projects for nominations, given the unpredictable nature of production volume. The next Awards will therefore be held in the Spring of 2013.
Even with biennial Awards, ACTRA Montreal remains committed to holding two member events each year. In years in which there are no Awards – like 2012, for instance – we will hold a second Members’ Conference, complete with professional development workshops aimed at advancing our skills as performers in various disciplines – from actor, to voice, to stunt – and cultivating our craft in order to make the most of every possible work opportunity. The Members’ Conference has been greatly received thus far, imparting valuable knowledge in a number of fields, and I have high expectations for its continued success.
The Conference Committee, Chaired once more by Paula Costain, is in the process of finalizing the workshops for the first Members’ Conference of 2012, to be held May 27th. The second Conference will follow in October. Stay tuned for more details and I hope to see many of you at both events.
On a very personal note, I would like to say what an honour and pleasure it is to continue serving the members of ACTRA Montreal, whom I greatly respect, and contributing to this organization, that I hold in the highest regard. I look forward to building on our successes and I am excited at the prospect of achieving new and greater goals.