It’s gearing up to be a great summer at Local 802. I’m proud to announce two exciting new programs that have the potential to bring new work to our members. The first is our brand-new online referral directory called www.newyorkmusicians.com. We’ll be using the site to let our members market themselves to people who want to hire musicians. Every gig booked through this site will be done via a union contract. You can read more about this fantastic new project – including how to apply – in this issue.
The second new program is being done in partnership with the Times Square Alliance. It’s called “Broadway Buskers: Out of the Pit” and it involves Local 802 musicians being hired under a union contract to perform outdoors in Times Square’s new pedestrian plazas. Any Local 802 Broadway musician may apply. See details here.
Local 802 is serious about wanting to help our members get work.
ORCHESTRAL MUSIC WAS FRONT AND CENTER AT MONTREAL CONFERENCE
Orchestral music is one of the world’s greatest treasures, and I would guess that many Local 802 members consider themselves classical musicians in some way (or at least have some classical training). And yet, orchestral music and classical music have never felt more fragile in today’s world. Earlier this spring, I attended the International Orchestra Conference, which is sponsored by the International Federation of Musicians. The conference was held in Montreal this year and was hosted by AFM Local 406. This was the first time the conference has taken place in North America and the first time an AFM local hosted the conference. The goal of the conference is to bring together classical ensembles from around the world to discuss mutual concerns, like how classical ensembles can thrive in today’s world, how orchestras can use digital technology to reach new audiences, and how unions can best protect classical musicians’ interests. The conference was a huge success in that it represented an exchange of ideas and issues from all parts of the globe. The common denominator is the one big challenge faced by both musicians and management: keeping an orchestra vital, relevant and successful. Various business models were discussed as well as workplace issues that orchestra musicians face on a daily basis. One of the most memorable quotes came from Robert Massey, the CEO of the Jacksonville Symphony. As an acknowledgement that it is the talent of musicians that makes an orchestra great, he stated: “No one buys tickets to watch me manage.” Needless to say, that sentiment was met with a resounding round of applause.
AFM EASTERN CONFERENCE
In April, I attended the AFM Eastern Conference in Norristown, Pennsylvania. This new conference consolidates the delegates from the Pennsylvania/Delaware/Maryland/D.C. conference, the New York conference, the New Jersey conference and the New England conference. Bringing local officers together on this scale was a long time coming. The International Executive Board has been trying for years to make the conferences more beneficial and worthwhile for those who attend. One important way was the creation of the Local Officer Education Program. This program is a “soup to nuts” approach on how we can support and encourage officers to make their locals stronger and to solve problems in an ever-changing industry. I want to personally thank the committee who organized the program: International Vice President Bruce Fife, Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert, International Executive Committee member Tina Morrison and Assistant to the International President Ken Shirk. I also want to thank all the instructors: International Vice President Bruce Fife, Director of Symphonic Services and Special Counsel Rochelle Skolnick, Director of Electronic Media Services Patrick Varriale, Director of Communications Rose Ryan, International Representative Barbara Owens and AFM Symphonic Negotiator Todd Jelen. Thanks for everyone’s hard work in making this possible. The conference was a huge success and was greatly appreciated by the officers who participated.
JUNE IS MUSIC MONTH
New York City declared June to be New York Music Month. On June 1, Local 802 participated in a city-sponsored day-long conference called SOUND DEVELOPMENT: NYC. I had the great honor of speaking on a panel entitled “Making it in NYC: How Creativity Thrives Against the Odds,” moderated by NYU Professor Judy Tint. Together with Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons, Ann Mincieli of Jungle City Studios, Riggs Morales of Atlantic Records and musician Everett Bradley, we discussed the importance of supporting the musicians who drive our city’s creative environment and the importance of ensuring that NYC remains a place where musicians want to make music as well as a fair living.
This fall, New Yorkers will vote for mayor, city council, public advocate, comptroller, state assembly, state senate and others. Local 802’s up-to-the-minute endorsements page can be found at www.local802afm.org/political-endorsements. You must be registered to vote by Aug. 18 in order to vote in the Sept. 12 primary. For help with registering, see www.elections.ny.gov.
We have a lot of Broadway news to report. First, congrats to all Local 802 members who won Tony Awards this year, including the musicians of “Dear Evan Hansen” (which won best musical) and “Hello, Dolly” (which won best revival). We’re also proud of our members Justin Paul (co-winner, best score for “Dear Evan Hansen”) and Alex Lacamoire (best orchestrations for “Dear Evan Hansen”). If we missed anyone, let us know, so we can give you a shout-out!
Secondly, Local 802 supports Broadway casting directors who are trying to form a union with the Teamsters Local 817 and achieve health and pension benefits. There are about 40 casting directors on Broadway, and this is one of the last sectors on Broadway that isn’t unionized. “Even though [producers] are making record profits this year, they don’t want to part with it,” Tom O’Donnell, president of Teamsters Local 817, told Backstage. We will continue to support the casting directors in every way possible and hope to welcome them to the Broadway union family soon.
In other musical theatre news, Local 802 recently achieved contracts covering musicians who play at the York Theatre Company and at the Gateway/Patchogue Theatre in Bellport, New York.
Finally, on a related note, I am proud to report that I was awarded a Broadway Beacon Award by Inside Broadway. These awards are presented annually to leaders who help increase the audience for live theatre and who understand the importance of arts and education in the lives of New York City’s young people. Inside Broadway’s mission is to bring live theatre to NYC public school students. The awards evening also serves as a fundraising event for Inside Broadway’s theatre education programs, which Local 802 supports.
ANNE WALKER WINNERS
Congratulations to Zachary Detrick, Caroline Kuhn, Hannah Levine and Matt Wong, each of whom won a $1,500 Anne Walker Scholarship award from Local 802 for attending music school. The deadline for next year’s contest is May 1, 2018. We’ll print a notice in Allegro and our social media as we get closer.
At the June 7 membership meeting, we discussed our www.newyorkmusicians.com online referral directory that I mentioned above. We also talked about the new Friedman Health Center for musicians and other artists, which we’ve featured in Allegro before. (See www.actorsfund.org/healthcenter for more info.) Local 802 will continue to bring interesting and useful presentations to our quarterly meetings. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. An important area of concern for our members continues to be the pension fund. See www.afm-epf.org for the latest updates.
FIFTY YEARS OF HELPING MUSICIANS
It’s hard to believe, but this is the 50th year that our Emergency Relief Fund has been granting financial assistance to musicians who are down on their luck. To mark this auspicious occasion, we are setting a fundraising goal of $150,000. Only through your generosity can we help musicians who are struggling with homelessness, addiction, major health calamities or family crises. Please remember that the Emergency Relief Fund is a nonprofit organization that operates solely with the help of your donations. (The fund is not supported by the Local 802 General Fund.) To make a donation now, go to www.local802erf.org. In the meantime, we continue to present a monthly show called “Jazz in the Afternoon” featuring the best talent of our membership. Donations are accepted at the door. The next show is on July 11 and features a tribute to the Emile Charlap jazz ensemble. See calendar for details.
We are also in the early planning stages of a celebration to commemorate this landmark year. We’ll send out more information as we solidify the plans, so stay tuned!
As always, the Emergency Relief Fund greatly appreciates your donations. Together we can make a real difference in the lives of musicians in need.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
- Our feature interview this issue is one of our oldest members. At 102 years old, he’s still practicing and performing. Let’s hear it for saxophonist Fred Staton! Read about his incredible life.
- Do you have a used iPod that you’re not using anymore? Please consider donating it to the annual Broadway iPod Drive to help Alzheimer’s patients enjoy the soothing gift of music.
- The new AFM Single Song Overdub Scale Agreement is now ready for Local 802 musicians to examine and decide if this provides a solution. We believe it represents a huge leap forward to address the needs of some of our recording musicians. See details here.
- We’re sorry to say that NYU is still on our unfair list. To add insult to injury, the university recently put out a job posting for a gig…and one of the requirements was that you could NOT be a member of the AFM! Sorry, folks, that’s totally illegal under labor law. See Harvey Mars’ story on for more.
Have a fantastic summer and I’ll see you again in these pages in September!