What are two ways to strengthen live music? First, bring back music education to the New York City public schools to help grow the next generation of audiences. Second, reach out to current audiences by drawing their attention to the very musicians who are performing for them. Both of these goals are part of the union’s new MIME Initiative.
MIME stands for Music Industry/Music Education. On the music education front, MIME will attempt to climb aboard the efforts being made by quite an impressive assortment of foundations and associations — such as the National Music Council — so that our specialized talent can be combined with their programs and resources. In short, we will work with these groups to promote music education and instruments in schools.
At the same time, we will be working in the music instrument industry. Manufacturers such as Yamaha buy thousands of ads each year. What if each ad featured not just a Yamaha sax but also a Local 802 musician playing that sax — and the ad specifically mentioned Local 802? Ads in publications such as Playbill would reach millions of well-educated theatre and concert-goers, thereby bringing attention to the manufacturers’ products by featuring and being associated with some of the finest musical talent in the world. This would have the desired affect for us of heightening public awareness about our presence — and it would not be our limited resources that would be paying the advertising freight.
The Executive Board approved me to be the first director of the MIME Initiative. On a part-time basis for a trial period of approximately four months, I will attempt to get MIME rolling. Our goals are rather lofty and certainly any success we might realize will not be due to my efforts alone. Therefore, I will be reaching out to Local 802’s various rank-and-file committees and the members they represent to assist me in our missions. I am confident that with the creative minds and talent within our membership the MIME Initiative will deserve to be around for many years to come.
How did the idea for MIME come about? Weekly meetings have been held since early March by a group of us called the State of Broadway (SOB). (It’s a subcommittee of the Broadway Theatre Committee.)
Our collective bargaining agreement with the League expires next March and the main purpose of the SOB has been to examine the many issues confronting the Broadway community of musicians now and into the future.
The SOB delegates concluded that more must be done to heighten public awareness about the Local 802 musicians that are keeping music live in the city.
The SOB also recognizes that we professional musicians really do care about the future of live music for reasons that go far beyond preserving our own employment.
Therefore, we feel that it is imperative that we join forces with the various crusades that are currently being conducted to get music education back into the public schools.
Then, last summer, Andy Schwartz and I were invited to attend the 25th annual American Eagle Awards luncheon of the National Music Council. (Andy is another SOB delegate like myself.)
Prior to the luncheon there was a distinguished panel of representatives from some of the very prestigious member associations that comprise the National Music Council. The topic of discussion was the pursuit of getting music education back into the public schools.
Andy and I approached some of the panelists to say that although we were not there in any official capacity for Local 802, we knew that our members would like to help in some way with this noble cause. The panelists were quite enthusiastic to hear of our members’ desire to contribute our considerable talents in some way that the panelists’ organizations, or we, might in the future imagine us helping them to achieve our mutually desired goals.
Then, in July, Andy and I appeared before the Executive Board and we proposed the MIME Initiative. The board approved it and our work begins now.
Local 802 members should contact me with any ideas or suggestions. I can be reached at RawdonHall@aol.com.