Musicians today are facing challenges unlike ever before, as new technologies and business models force them to steer their careers through an increasingly exploitative and unaffordable world. Addressing these challenges is a priority for the leadership of this union. Our mission demands that we find ways to strengthen our union, support live music, expand the amount of work covered by union agreements, increase the size and diversity of our membership and ensure that Local 802 remains relevant to performers who engage in all types, styles and genres of music performance. How do we achieve all these goals in a seismically shifting musical environment? What tools can we use and how will we use them?
A new tool: the Emerging Artists Project
Local 802 has begun to answer these questions by launching the Emerging Artists Project, a new grant program and tool that I developed along with union staff. It’s designed to support musicians who most need it. Modeled after a system called Target Funds developed by the building trades unions in the 1980s, the Emerging Artists Project is designed to help ensembles and bands reach the standards that we musicians should expect for our craft, both professionally and artistically.
In modifying the idea of a Target Fund for the music business, we have created a four-year grant program that pays $10,000 per year, the first of its kind in the AFM. The money will be awarded annually by Local 802 to one or more groups composed of three or more musicians in any genre of music. The grant may be used to pay any expenses necessary to meet the ensemble’s goals, including wages, marketing, publicity and recording expenses. Grantees will be required to sign a collective bargaining agreement with Local 802 and all members of the group will be required to join Local 802.
In addition to the monetary award and protections guaranteed by working under union contracts, our union has partnered with Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, which will offer discounted rates on rehearsal studio and recording studio rental as well as provide grantees with mentoring on the business of music.
How will the union pay for this project? The Executive Board is recommending a bylaw amendment (see below) allowing for a portion of the union’s public relations budget to be used for the program. This proposed bylaw change will come up for a vote at the union’s Feb. 7 membership meeting. Local 802 encourages members to attend and vote yes. (Please note that this proposed bylaw change will not raise your dues; it simply allocates money from within our internal budget.)
How to apply
Applications are open from Dec. 1 through Jan. 8. Ensembles of any sort are invited and encouraged to apply. One ensemble will be selected in the grant’s first class. Apply now at www.getacceptd.com/local802afm.
Jury panels comprising respected musicians experienced in the applying group’s style of music will provide independent analysis and review of applicants. These panels will subsequently work with a Local 802 Executive Board committee to select a worthy recipient. Ultimately, applicants who most closely align with our mission will be selected to receive our support.
Of paramount importance to the judging process is impartiality. The union has developed guidelines to prevent favoritism as the panels select the grant winners.
Why this matters
Ultimately, every time a non-union group performs a non-union gig, it is an opportunity lost to our members. Every gig played without a union contract is work taken from our members. Local 802 hopes that the Emerging Artists Project will not only create a healthier New York music ecosystem but that it will level the playing field for all musicians by raising the wage floor, as well as bring into our fold musicians who, until now, have not been a part of our Local community.
For more details and to apply now, see www.getacceptd.com/local802afm. The deadline to apply is Jan. 8.
Harpist Sara Cutler is a member of the Local 802 Executive Board.
The following bylaw amendment will be proposed and voted on at the Local 802 membership meeting on Feb. 7, 2018.:
New language is underlined below:
Article III, Section 5, Paragraph (a): “…A further portion of the amount thus collected by the Union equivalent to one-quarter of one percent (0.25%) of all scale earnings on which work dues are collected by Local 802 shall be dedicated for use in Public Relations programs such as the Emerging Artists Project and any other similar program meant to increase the union’s membership and bargaining unit work available to the union’s membership. The amount of any grants awarded as part of the Program shall not exceed the actual amount of funding established by the Executive Board available for the Program at that time. The Union will notify its members of the status of the Program on an annual basis.”
The Local 802 Executive Board has reported this resolution favorably.