As 2018 comes to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on Local 802’s accomplishments and challenges this past year.
In 2018, we awarded our first Emerging Artists Project grant to the Roxy Coss Quintet. The EAP is a four-year, $10,000-per-year grant program designed to encourage and mentor ensembles new to the music scene and the union. The project is open to all groups of three or more players in any genre of music who live or work in the New York tri-state area and who have been performing together for at least one year.
In 2018, we achieved many major contracts or agreements for musicians. The list is too long to mention here, but a few examples are the New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, Met Opera, Lincoln Center’s American Songbook, City Center’s “Encores! Great American Musicals,” the production of “My Fair Lady” at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, the NYCB Theatre at Westbury (formerly the Westbury Music Fair), the John W. Engeman Theatre in Northport, the Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene production’s of “Fiddler on the Roof” and the revival of “Smoky Joe’s Café.” We also renegotiated our Single Engagement Club Scale Agreement, which sets our minimum rates for weddings and other jobs, and we published our revised Commercial Off Broadway Area Standards. I’ve also been working with the AFM in negotiations for a successor Integrated Media Agreement, which covers the recording of orchestras, opera and ballet in a variety of media.
In 2018, we interviewed in Allegro many prominent members, including Katreese Barnes, Joanne Brackeen, Roxy Coss, Eddie Daniels, Jazzmeia Horn, Frank Huang, Bill Kirchner, Sherrie Maricle, Christian McBride, John Monaco, Mike Spengler, Ed Xiques and others. In this issue, see our interview with Uri Caine.
In 2018, we celebrated the second anniversary of the Jazz Mentors program, produced by the Council for Living Music and frequently held at Local 802. There have been 17 Jazz Mentors sessions so far, all of which have been outstanding. Also, the Jazz Mentors Student Jam was a popular new program added to this series this year. I’m proud that so many Local 802 members have contributed their time and energy to this series. Jazz is truly one of America’s gifts to world music and Congress has even declared jazz to be a national treasure. (Also, in 2018 we hosted a jazz clinic called “The Rhythm Business,” produced by the Council for Living Music, as well as many successful events in our “Jazz in the Afternoon” series, which benefit the Local 802 Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund.)
In 2018, I attended various conferences, including the AFM & FIM Streaming Conference, the AFM Mid-States Conference in Detroit and the AFM Western Conference in Sacramento. All AFM locals are fighting for fair wages, organizing new contracts, and trying to foster more diversity, equality and inclusion in their ranks.
In 2018, our journal Allegro won first place in NYC by the Metropolitan New York Labor Communications Council
In 2018, we instituted a new sexual harassment response and reporting procedure and held membership meetings about fighting sexual harassment and bullying. As musicians and artists who strive every day to create stronger, healthier and more vibrant communities, we condemn destructive behavior and we reject harassment, discrimination and abuse in the workplace and in our culture at large. We are working internally to strengthen and bolster the process through which members can report instances of abuse, and we are taking a multi-faceted approach to ensuring that we are well prepared to assist those who need it. We will keep you apprised of these developments as we move forward. On a related note, in 2018 we published a cover story, “Equality Now,” about how women face real discrimination in the music world related to both gender and age.
Likewise, in 2018, we focused a lot of energy on promoting diversity. We debuted our new Diversity Committee, chaired by Local 802 member Steven Cuevas with staff liaison Marlena Fitzpatrick García. We also published a cover story, written by MET Orchestra trombonist Weston Sprott and his colleague Shea Scruggs, about how musicians and management can work for more diversity, equality and inclusion, and why it’s in everyone’s best interests to do so. I hope that it will amplify the ongoing conversation within our union about how to prioritize diversity and make it real. Also in 2018, I attended the conference of the Sphinx Organization in Detroit. The organization is dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. I was inspired by this conference and hope to bring some of the organization’s energy to Local 802, where our diversity efforts are ongoing. Finally, during 2018, Allegro published tributes to Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Jazz History Month, Earth Day, Pride Month and National Hispanic Heritage Month. And in 2018, musicians at the Winter Jazzfest, who are covered under a Local 802 union contract, organized several forums on music and social issues, including immigration, gender and activism.
In 2018, artists successfully fought against President Trump’s budget proposal, which would have called for the termination of the National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Institute of Museum and Library Services. We also analyzed how Trump’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board are rolling back protections for workers’ rights.
In 2018, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of “The Phantom of the Opera” and published great reminiscences of some of the musicians.
In 2018, the Grammy Awards came back to NYC this year for the first time since 2003. Musicians performed under a union contract and the Broadway show “Dear Evan Hansen” won Best Musical Theatre Album. Also in 2018, we celebrated all of the Local 802 members who worked on musicals that won a Tony, including “The Band’s Visit” (which won Best Musical) and “Once on This Island” (which won Best Revival). We gave a special shout-out to Local 802 member Jamshied Sharifi, who won the Tony for Best Orchestrations for “The Band’s Visit.” Separately, we congratulated Local 802 member Harold Wheeler, who won one of the 2018 Project1VOICE Honors.
On the subject of musical theatre, in 2018 the Broadway League reported that the previous season was the best attended and highest grossing season in Broadway recorded history. Total attendance reached almost 13.8 million and Broadway shows yielded just over $1.69 billion in grosses. During the season, 33 productions opened, which included 10 musicals (7 originals plus 3 revivals). The Broadway season is a 52-week period, running approximately from the beginning of June through the end of May.
Also in 2018, we welcomed the formation of the Electronic Music Committee. This innovative group was formed to study the use of electronics on Broadway in order to make recommendations to the union.
In 2018, Local 802 celebrated the passage of the Music Modernization Act, and we hosted several meetings of the Artist Rights Caucus. Also in 2018, we fought with the AFM for streaming rights for musicians when they play on live TV shows.
In 2018, we protested the Supreme Court’s viciously anti-union decision in the case of Janus vs. AFSCME. On the flip side, we celebrated when Missouri voters overturned a right-to-work law by an overwhelming margin, and we also celebrated the West Virginia teachers who won a 5 percent increase for all state employees, effectively raising the wages for everyone. The strike inspired teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and elsewhere (including Jersey City) to take action.
In 2018, we once again co-sponsored live piano music at Bryant Park. We’re very glad to be able to invest in our members and in live music.
In 2018, Local 802 took part in a successful #FutureInFocus event sponsored by the United Federation of Teachers and the NYC Central Labor Council. We had a great time telling NYC high school students all about the good union jobs they can pursue as musicians in our vibrant and creative city.
In 2018, an exciting degree of energy among union leadership, organizers and member activists was on full display at the Labor Notes conference in Chicago. A team from Local 802 and representatives from the AFM took part in the three-day event along with an estimated 3,000 union sisters and brothers from around the nation and from 24 countries.
In 2018, Local 802’s Electronic Media Services Department debuted its new contract seminar series. We educated musicians on how the AFM film agreements work as well as various sound contracts. This is a valuable series that we hope to continue and expand in 2019.
In 2018, we begin our meetings with the NYC Nightlife Advisory Board. The board was established earlier this year to serve as a way to connect various city agencies and promote a vital nightlife scene.
In 2018, we said our final goodbyes to Lillian Bertolino, Edward Birdwell, Glen Daum, Richard Dallessio, Alex Domschot, Bob Dorough, Paul Eugene Dunkel, Paul Harris, Roy Hargrove, Thomas Karolyi, Raymond Francis Kennedy, Brooks Kerr, Donald Knapp, Newton Mansfield, Hugh Masekela, Buell Neidlinger, Don Payne, Jack Reilly, Marvin Roth, David (Daoud) Shaw, John Sopko, Edward Simons, Dennis Smith, Julian “Julie” Stein, Michael Tree, Bill Watrous, Randy Weston, Jim White, Howard Williams, Chuck Wilson, Harriet Wingreen, Jimmy Wisner and many other talented members of Local 802. See more obituaries in this issue.
Finally, in 2018, we mourned the tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 children were killed. Later in the year, we were shocked in a different way when we learned about immigrant children being separated from their parents. The Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh in October – where 11 people died and 7 were wounded – weighed on our hearts. These events, plus the Kroger shooting in Kentucky and the shooting in Thousand Oaks, California – and many other tragedies in 2018 – remind us to not take our lives for granted. Many of us became musicians not only because we love music but because we believe in a higher ideal. So I challenge all of us to use our music – and our voices and bodies – to make the world a better place. Let’s turn our grief into action in any way that we can.
So that’s the year in review. Local 802 accomplished quite a bit for our members. In regard to Local 802’s own finances, I am happy to report that the union continues to remain confidently stable in 2018. In the printed issue of Allegro, you can read reports by Financial Vice President Tom Olcott and Cathy Camiolo about the current state of Local 802’s finances. Have a safe and happy New Year, and we’ll see you in these pages again in 2019.