The Theatre Musicians of America (TMA) held their third annual conference in Chicago on Aug. 23 and 24. The conference was attended by many of the regional directors and some officers and members of the organization. Federation representatives included President Steve Young, Director of the Touring/Theatre/Booking Division Mark Heter, his newly-appointed assistant for traveling and touring, Stanton Davis, and Presidential Assistant Barbara Neilsen. Bill Moriarity, Steve Machamer and I attended from New York.
The convention began at 10 a.m. on Monday with opening comments by the TMA President Art Linsner, followed by a warm welcome from Ed Ward, president of the Chicago local, where the meeting was held. President Young’s address to the delegates recapped his speech from the National Convention in July (see September Allegro), outlining the Federation’s accomplishments during the last year and objectives for the millennium.
President Young spoke specifically about the ongoing Pamphlet B negotiations, concentrating on the issues particularly relevant to the delegates and giving the history of the controversial Rule 24. While he offered no solution to the difficult problem posed by the current state of Rule 24, which pits traveling musicians against local members, he stressed the need for all parties to work together to bring the current negotiations to a successful conclusion.
Reports on the status of theatre musicians around the country were presented by representatives from chapters and members in northern California (San Francisco), southern California (Los Angeles), Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston, Hartford and New York.
During the morning session on the first day, the Chicago TMA chapter sponsored a presentation by audiologist Michael Santucci, who discussed in detail how high sound levels can damage one’s hearing and offered advice on how to minimize the effects through the use of a number of different devices. He discussed the pros and cons of various types of earplugs and spoke of an in-ear monitor, currently used by a number of high-profile rock bands, which was developed by his Company, Sensaphonics. It was a very interesting presentation and reminded us all that we should go for a base-line hearing test and get protective devices for those situations which could cause permanent damage to our livelihoods. President Moriarity reported that the 802 Health Plan has recently begun covering such devices.
Since several representatives could only be present for the first day, the meeting agenda was altered to allow for a discussion of Pamphlet B after lunch. While the discussion was interesting, it served to highlight the gulf between travelers and local musicians as a result of Rule 24 and the advent of large self-contained traveling orchestras. In searching for a workable solution, President Moriarity emphasized the need for both local and traveling musicians to work together to find an acceptable compromise, noting that this would require give and take from each party.
The second day of the conference was given over to official orders of business, changes in bylaws and election of officers. Due to the small number of members present at the conference, it was necessary to change the bylaws to lower the number of members required to reach a quorum so that the conference could conduct business. This reflected the difficulty of getting members and representatives from different areas of the country to convene without a clear directive as to the focus of the organization. The TMA has achieved conference status and could be a real player in Federation terms if it can mobilize theatre musicians around the country to understand the necessity for sharing information and working together to achieve goals common to all theatre musicians. ð