2015 Equity Election Candidate Statements
*** VOTING IS NOW CLOSED ***
The Equity membership has elected new Councillor representatives for the 2015-2018 Council term. The newly elected Councillors will take office at the first meeting of Equity's incoming Council, November 29 to December 1, 2015 in Toronto.
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- Stage Management
- Kate Sandeson
I'm Kate Sandeson and I'm running for the Stage Management Councillor position. I’ve been an active member of Equity as a stage manager and assistant stage manager since 2012. For more about me, visit my weebly site: turbokate.weebly.com
Here are my wants or things I want to work toward during my time as the Stage Management Councillor. I want Equity to help stage managers deal with their timesheets and overtime with theatre companies. Perhaps they are always cc’d on timesheets to help us back up the work we have done. We work hard and often I find myself having to have an awkward conversation about what a theatre can afford – I want backup. I want to feel more like a member then I do – I’m not sure how this is accomplished – but I’m going to work on that. I want Apprentice Stage Managers to have a base salary – is that possible? I want to find out. I want to learn how Equity works and how decisions are made and who they benefit most when they are approved. I want to be more active with the association that represents me and help our members become more active in the decisions that affect them.
- Dustyn Wales
My eyes were opened to the workings of Equity when I participated in the negotiations of the 2015-2018 CTA. The past years have seen advancement in communication and effectiveness in our Association. I will keep this progress on track, while serving the needs of members.
I believe that education is a two-fold issue. The first part of this, the education of present Equity stage management personnel on the resources and tools available. The second part, the education of Apprentices on what eventual membership means and how to make the most of it. I would advocate for advancement within the Apprentice Program to ensure that Apprentices not only receive the training required to help them succeed, but also knowledge of appropriate working conditions.
Beyond education, I would make it my mission to continue the trend of communication in both directions within CAEA. It is important for the Association to listen to the changing needs of its membership, while preserving the fundamental foundations of our agreements. This can only be accomplished through clear and open communication.
Having worked across Canada in many varied disciplines, I feel that my past and future experiences represent the needs and desires of Stage Managers within Equity.
- Nicole Caron (ACCLAIMED)
Nicole is in her 14th season with Alberta Ballet. She was born in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and grew up in Vancouver, B.C. She received her ballet training at the Richmond Academy of Dance, as well as Canada’s National Ballet School, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, the American Ballet Theatre, and is an alumna of The Banff Centre’s Festival Dance. Some of her favourite roles include the title role in Carmen, Desdemona in Othello, Helena in A Midsummer’s Night Dream, the principal dancer in Balanchine’s Rubies, Serenade, Allegro Brillante, and Who Cares?, the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker and the pas de trois and lead swan in Swan Lake. In her spare time she enjoys travelling and is also and avid volunteer. She is looking forward to being on the Council representing the dance region for CAEA.
- British Columbia and the Yukon
- Scott Bellis
Hello friends. I have had a very rewarding and fruitful experience serving my first term as a BC/Yukon Councillor, and I’d like to continue representing you if you’ll have me. Some highlights have included:
• Communicating with members individually. Always great to hear what concerns are out there and bring them forward for discussion. Contact me any time: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Creating new policy to cover member activities at post-secondary theatre schools while serving on the Directors/Choreographers/Fight Directors Committee.
• Helping to examine how our by-laws can serve our association better. Words must suit our actions.
• Working to increase diversity in member representation at the Council level.
• Engaging with younger members about how our association can serve us to help achieve our goals as individual artists.
With a large number of Council seats changing hands this year, I hope to provide some continuity in the work. I think the biggest strength that I bring to the table is my experience in the trenches as an actor these past 28 years. I have a good idea of what is going on out there, and my aim my aim of keeping Equity relevant and timely for all of us remains constant. I hope you’ll you’ll give me another shot.
- Ian Farthing
As an actor and director, I have worked under pretty much every type of CAEA agreement, but also recently completed a nine-year stint as Artistic Director of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival. My hope is that this varied background will bring a practical knowledge of what it’s like on both sides of the fence to discussions at Council.
Some of the issues that face us include: diversity and how CAEA can actively move this discussion forward from talk to visible change; to enable members to create work while balancing economic realities; to restore confidence in the association amongst its members; to be a voice for the arts in the public and political arena.
We all know that Equity isn’t perfect. But we can strive to make it better and stronger for the benefit of all.
- Keith Martin Gordey
As one of the more than 2,600 CAEA members who are also ACTRA members, I pay two sets of dues, have two benefit plans and two RRSP plans. We are more than 45 percent of our membership in all categories; acting, stage management, dance, opera and others. There is strength in numbers. Surely one benefit and RRSP plan for both organizations will bring economies of scale, not just for dual members but for all CAEA members. And maybe it's time to look at the benefits of forming one organization. If SAG and AFTRA can do it, anything is possible. And, as someone with a foot in each camp, I bring diverse experience to exploring possibilities for better serving the interests of all our members.
I have always striven to improve the lives of those in the performing arts, I have served almost 10 years on the board of PAL Vancouver, for example. Also, I am Treasurer of UBCP/ACTRA, an ACTRA National councillor and Chair of the board of Western Gold Theatre. I have considerable experience working successfully with others to resolve challenging and contentious situations. I commit to doing so in the interest of our association.
- Erik Gow
As a new member of the CAEA, it is my aim to get involved and work hard for the Association as it has worked hard for me at the beginning of my career.
I want to run for Council so I can get involved early in my career and address the issues that affect my peers and colleagues. I hope to focus on communicating the needs of young Canadian artists, be it the structure of indie agreements and co-ops to finding new ways to engage member involvement and furthering dialogue on diversity, both locally and nationally.
I have a strong interest in creating an environment within Equity that will benefit our members at all stages in their careers and create an ongoing relationship with them. Although I am new at Equity I have been contracted from A house to TYA tour and over the past 10 years have worked box office, admin, stage-managing, directing, design and education. I hope to bring my ideas, questions and passion to the table while taking the time to get to know the organization now so I can also best serve it in the future.
- Jennifer Hare (Candidacy withdrawn)
- Jane Heyman
I have worked in theatre primarily as a director for more than 40 years. For 20 years, I taught acting and was the associate director of Studio 58. I am proud to have co-founded Westcoast Actors, the Women in VIEW Festival and PAL Vancouver.
In my past three years as a Councillor, I was eager to participate in initiatives to:
• Reduce harassment, creating safe and respectful workplaces;
• Increase opportunities for members working for post-secondary training institutions;
• Increase the diversity of Council representation;
• Improve communication between Equity and the membership.
• I’m running again because I want to complete work on a number of projects – especially in the areas of:
• Stopping harassment and improving Equity’s ability to respond fairly, compassionately and effectively;
• Diversity – on Council, advisory committees and professional theatre;
• Passionate advocate for senior & emerging artists, with whom I’ve worked for so many years
• Long-standing advocate for diversity, original Canadian work (particularly that of women) as well as non-traditional practice;
• Strong communicator and consensus builder.
The best complement to the fresh energy of so many new councillors will be the voice of experience. I would love to be one of those voices and represent you again.
- Sereana Malani
My name is Sereana Malani, and I am a Vancouver-based actor. I was born in the Fiji Islands and raised in British Columbia. I am a graduate of the BFA Acting program at the University of Alberta. As an artist of colour, the issue of diversity and representation in Canadian theatre is a topic of great importance to me. I believe Canadian stages should reflect their audiences and diversity means so much more than just white and non-white. Keeping the conversation going about race, casting and opportunity is very necessary, and translating that conversation into action even more so.
I frequently participate in conversations with other young artists about the nature of our trade. As a Council member, I would be able to represent their voices and concerns. I want to be a Council member because I wish to learn more about our industry and participate in the shaping of our community’s future.
- Valerie Sing Turner
I'm an award-winning theatre artist, and a member of Equity (13 years), ACTRA and Playwrights Guild. Through my company, Visceral Visions, I've produced three premieres within a culturally diverse and female-centred mandate; most recently, I had the honour of assistant-directing and producing Marie Clements' Aboriginal blues-rock multimedia musical, The Road Forward, at the 2015 PuSh Festival. I understand the workings of Equity, having served on the Western Advisory for five years – four years as co-chair – and sat on Council as an alternate during the transition to policy governance.
I offer 12 years' experience as a passionate arts advocate: promoting artists, creating innovative partnerships and fighting for social justice. It's a fact that Canada's demographics will continue to become more diverse. Making our stages more inclusive will attract a larger, more diversified audience, leading to more productions and work for everyone. We have a tremendous opportunity, through meaningful culturally diverse representation, to give our Council a mandate to take leadership on this critical challenge. The BC/Yukon membership has a history of imaginative and decisive leadership, and we have a great opportunity to make a powerful statement by electing three artists of colour to Council. Please vote for a strong and inclusive Equity.
- Hazel Venzon
I’ve been an Equity member for eight years. Up until 2009, I was a freelance Vancouver actress, writer, director and producer; and since then, I began to divide my time between Whitehorse and Vancouver. I now permanently live in Whitehorse.
I am mostly known for my work with small-stage and independent theatre companies in B.C. I’ve also spent six years growing with and being involved in Yukon living, theatre arts and culture. Having lived in B.C. and now Yukon makes me a strong candidate to represent the active and colourful small percentage of Equity members in the North.
As an Equity Councillor, I will aim to listen to Northern members’ voices and make sure that we feel included in the greater dialogue.
I love being an actress and performer. I love theatre and how it continues to change in form. As an Equity Councillor, I also will advocate towards ensuring that Equity supports the changes in live performance/theatre and the evolving role as a performer.
- Katey Wright
I’m an actress and producer, and I have been a CAEA member for over 20 years. During that time, I’ve worked under virtually every form of contract, been part of many co-ops and collectives, and have been a founder of three professional theatre companies, all of which are thriving today. I served on CAEA's West Coast Advisory Committee for three years and on Council for nine years, and then I had a baby, and now he’s almost nine, so I’m back.
I find it deeply fulfilling to be part of the ongoing national conversation about what CAEA members want and need, where live theatre in Canada is headed, and what we as artists want it to be. BC/Yukon is a phenomenal theatre region – innovative, questioning and strong – and I’m excited to have been nominated to represent it.
- Raugi Yu
I have been a member of Equity since September 2000. I am a Vancouver-based actor, director and educator of Canadian theatre and acting.
Our craft, our art, our business requires action. Spiritually, emotionally and physically, I have been in action for more than 15 years now while others fought for equality on our Canadian stages for equal representation that reflects what Canada really looks like. It’s not what you see now. It is very difficult advocating for diversity and as an Asian/Canadian actor I have benefited from the work of others. I feel it is now my turn to step up and do the same.
I love being a member of Equity. I think there is fear around the word diversity. To many it feels like a threat or it means change and loss. I want to strengthen our whole membership. To redefine what diversity means with the understanding that we are always stronger when we stand together. How can we do this if we’re afraid to even look at each other? I can’t do it alone. You will all need to get involved. I am willing to be your focal point. I hope you’ll give me a chance.
- Northern Alberta and NWT
- Clinton Carew
Clinton Carew (actor/director) has been a member of CAEA since 1997. Since then, he has had the good fortune to work in the theatre, in houses big and small, across Canada and around the world. He is passionate about indie and new work but also has a weakness for plays from the early 1900s. He believes that it is possible to do good work and also be representative of your community.
- Ian Leung
I’m running to represent this region on Equity Council for a number of reasons. As a strong communicator and a good listener, I hope to hear the concerns of our local membership and transmit them clearly to Council, and to be a resource for anyone seeking to understand what Equity is and does for its members. As someone who has been involved with and enjoyed policy-related work in the past – during my pre-acting career as a government science advisor, as an administrator of the Film and Video Arts Society or the Canadian Centre for Theatre Creation – I think it’s a job I can do well on your behalf. On a personal level, I’m looking for ways to serve my community, and it would be an honour to speak for the members of our region on the National Council. Like many, I believe that Canada’s cultural diversity – whether it’s with respect to gender, to people of colour or to people with impairments – is poorly reflected on our stages and that more needs to be done to address the problem. This is one of the most important issues currently being discussed at Council, and I think I can help shape Equity’s development of policy to address it in a positive way.
- Southern Alberta
- Simon Mallett (ACCLAIMED)
As a director, theatre maker, producer and Equity Councillor, my interactions with Equity are many and varied. I understand a wide variety of Equity’s agreements as both artist and engager and can help members on an individual basis to navigate the challenges and questions that emerge from working under them. This has been my greatest take-away from my first term on Council, and I’m keen to continue this work over the next three years. However, there are also a number of other important initiatives on the horizon, specifically around harassment and diversity – key challenges in our industry that demand urgent attention in order for Equity to be the positive factor it strives to be in the lives and careers of members. Over the past three years, the passage of the dues referendum, the introduction of new small-scale theatre agreements, the changes to the CTA and initial surveys of membership on a number of key topics have laid ground work for Equity to make bold strides in adapting to the changing landscape of live performance in Canada. I’m excited to be serving on Council in order to provide a strong voice for Southern Alberta members as a part of that process.
- Jaron Francis
As an actor-playwright-producer, I represent the theatre artist of today in my region, a place where the independent theatre scene provides an opportunity to sustain and grow a career. Necessity has made multihyphenates of us all; still, I have a wholly separate career outside the arts, also arguably a necessity as a theatre practitioner who prioritizes residing and working in Saskatoon. Many members are in the same boat, and I’d like to speak to our experience.
I’ve been working as an actor for fifteen years, primarily in Saskatchewan. In recent years, I’ve sought involvement with as many organizations in support of theatre as I have time for, sitting on the boards of the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre and Live Five Independent Theatre.
To assist my community, I want to learn the bigger picture. I’m most interested in encouraging Equity to be the source of aid and support it should be, rather than the impeding force it often feels like in a smaller region like Saskatchewan. I’m an excellent listener – a skill that like any other requires proper application, and one that I feel is grossly underutilized. Overall, my desire to see my community thrive is what attracts me to this role.
- William Hales
I have been a member of CAEA since 1979 and have served previously as a member of the Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan Advisory Committees and the Stage Management Committee. Presently I teach the Stage Management and Technical Theatre program at the University of Regina and have helped train a number of CAEA stage managers that are very active in the professional world.
I believe that the education of new and even long-term members of Equity is incredibly important in the ever-changing environment of Canadian theatre. Equity members, now more than ever, are taking producing responsibilities into their own hands, and every effort has to be made by CAEA to allow these members to be successful and also to protect their interests.
I have worked for many of the large regional theatres in Western Canada and also many of the smaller companies, this gives me a good perspective of the challenges of being an Equity member and I hope my experience can help and educate present and future artists in pursuit of their art and their livelihood.
- Melanie Rogowski
Melanie Rogowski has been working as a stage manager in Saskatchewan since 2007 and has been a full CAEA member since 2013. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Stage Management and Technical Theatre from the University of Regina in 2010. During her career she has stage managed for regional theatres, under guest artist agreements, worked on youth tours, participated in cooperatives and independent projects as well as worked under the ITA. She has two years experience working in arts administration where she became familiar with the theatre’s roles and responsibilities under the CTA. She is enthusiastic to get involved with Equity and be a voice for the Saskatchewan membership.
- Manitoba and Nunavut
- Aaron Hutton (ACCLAIMED)
I joined CAEA in 2010 and since then have continued to strengthen my artistic presence and establish myself as a Classical singer and musical theatre performer in Manitoba at large. I am thankful to be part of an organization that brings such value to its members. I am aware of CAEA's decision making efforts and want to be involved in important discussions that impact this generation of performers, while contributing to the growth of the union as it gains new members.
I have extensive knowledge and experience and would be an invaluable representative for the Manitoba/Nunavut region. As I continue to work in this industry, I realize the importance of a healthy and safe work environment. As a member of Equity Council, I will advocate for respectful workplaces to be a higher priority in rehearsal and performance processes. The recent survey on safe and respectful workplaces is an important indicator of this necessity; 95 percent of respondents value these safety elements and yet half of women and 37 percent of men report being the target of harassment. This element of company well-being is immensely important to me and is one of many issues that I will advocate for as Equity Councillor.
I am a young professional and am passionate about my work, including the union that represents my artistry. I want to be part of important discussions so fellow members are represented in a fair, beneficial, and equitable way.
- Kirsten Alter (ACCLAIMED)
I’ve been a member of Equity for over 20 years, and have experienced the highs, lows and everything in between regarding life in the theatre. It’s been quite a ride. As an actor and an avid theatre goer, I’m excited about the changes I’m seeing and the potential we have to be an even more inclusive and forward thinking theatre community.
Since graduating from Vancouver’s Studio 58 in 1994, I’ve worked in the both the Independent, and Large theatre scenes—From Toronto’s Sterling Theatre to Calgary’s Lunchbox Theatre to the Vancouver Playhouse.
As a brown girl, born and raised in New Brunswick, and adopted into a white family, I had a unique perspective of myself and how I fit into both my family and the world around me. My experiences growing up in this reality has made me both sensitive to, and passionate about, inclusion and diversity. I’m interested in breaking down the walls of ignorance and fear as they pertain to gender, race, and sexual identity in Canadian Theatre.
I have a great appreciation for the work that Equity does, and I am especially thrilled with the commitment of PACT and Equity around the issues of equal engagement. I bring with me a great deal of enthusiasm for constructive dialogue and also an open mind and heart towards working on your behalf for continued positive change.
- Herbie Barnes (ACCLAIMED)
I have been lucky enough to be able to make a living at what I love. My career has allowed me to participate in a variety of projects that have taken me to theatres of all sizes across Canada. I have a strong history rooted in diverse genres including Theatre for Young Audiences and Native Theatre.
As a Native performer for over 25 years, I have participated in meetings and on committees concerning Native actors, trying to make the pathway easier for those who follow. As an educator, my goal has been to help prepare diverse actors for the mainstream regardless of their background.
I want to run for the Equity Board with the hope of learning how we can change the things we can and really why we do the things we do. As a young performer, I joined Equity as soon as I could and understand the need for it. I bring a diverse point of view. My life has been anything but mainstream. I have listened. Having a role on the Equity Board will allow me to be a proactive voice of support for its members.
- Sedina Fiati (ACCLAIMED)
I am proud to be a member of this union and becoming of member of Equity was a long journey for me. During my term on council, I want to focus on greater member participation through in person events, as well increasing work opportunities for our members of colour. I would also like to look at a strategic initiative to address diversity and equity in post secondary institutions in both content and student body. I am looking forward to learning a lot and meeting the other members of council.
- Minh Ly (ACCLAIMED)
I will fill a demographic on Equity council that hasn’t been filled in a while. I’ll be a young, fresh diverse voice; the voice of a Chinese/Vietnamese actor/writer in my early thirties.
Raised in Toronto, I moved to Vancouver to train at Studio 58. I stayed on the west coast for a few years after graduation, before moving back to Toronto about 3 years ago. My first professionally produced play, GA TING, was mounted last year in Richmond, BC. The story surrounds a pair of immigrant Chinese parents coming to terms with the death of their gay son.
Yes, I am very passionate about diversity in our theatrical landscape. I think equity can do better promoting more ‘authentic’ casting that reflects the society we live in. Things have changed, but they are still changing too slowly.
I also think Equity can do better on educating and communicating to its members on what they do, the services they offer, and why they’re necessary. I hope being a part of council will enlighten me more on the intricacies of our union, so I can share the knowledge.
I love our theatre community from coast to coast, and am a proud equity member who believes in the necessity of CAEA. I feel a responsibility to run and hopefully get a chance to speak for a younger, diverse generation of artists.
- Allan Teichman (ACCLAIMED)
When I first ran for Council in 2003, it was with a specific issue in mind. I soon realised there were many things that needed attention and change, but none more important than these…
Equity needed to redirect itself toward the future; Council needed to govern, not merely advise; and Council needed to seek input from all members, not just the loudest ones, or those we knew personally.
Our report in the most recent EQ measures how far we have come. Everything on Council’s major issues list has seen substantive action and is flagged for future update. There is now no aspect of Equity’s work that Council does not govern. And most importantly, direct consultation with the membership has gone through the roof.
I currently serve as Councillor for the SM region, but I have deliberately chosen to vacate that seat. There is only one, and it’s time that it be held by someone new. Change is good there, too.
One thing hasn’t changed since 2003: my determination to work broadly on behalf of the whole membership, shaping our Association for today and the future.
- Zeph Williams (ACCLAIMED)
Over the past 15 years, I have worked across Canada under the CTA and ITA as well as Opera and Ballet agreement in both small scale and large scale, commercial and non-commercial productions. These organizations include Festival Antigonish, Mulgrave Road Theatre, Bunnies in the Headlights and Neptune Theatre in the Maritimes, Stratford Festival, Mirvish Productions, Dancap Productions, The Canadian Opera Company and The Canadian Stage Company in Ontario as well as The Citadel Theatre and The Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Western Canada. I am currently in my 10th season with the Stratford Festival where I live with my wife and our young daughter and have sat on Equity's team for our last two addendum negotiations.
Our recent Safe and Respectful Workplace survey has revealed some major issues that need to be addressed with our membership and engaging partners. I have been on the Health and Safety committee at Stratford for many years as well as having served in the same capacity for Princess Cruise Line. I would like to bring this experience that I have gained to council to tackle these complex issues. Having worked in both small and large scale theatre, I recognize the fragility and uniqueness of our artistic workplace and will work hard with our new council to ensure a safer and more dignified environment for all. The most important part of Equity are its members and I ask for your support so that I may represent you and your interests.
- Paula Wolfson (ACCLAIMED)
Theatre has changed so much since I became a CAEA member in 1980 and it continues to evolve. The effort to improve working conditions and work opportunities can never cease; your elected Council is at your service as you report what works for you and what doesnʼt. Our professional Association is as strong as we make it. Iʼd like to lend a hand.
Iʼve run the gamut of contracts - “mega musical” national tours, regional dramas, dinner theatre, “fringe” shows, Summerworks, summer stock, guest contract, independent and self-produced.
Iʼm inspired by the fresh young faces, and look to them to teach me about how the theatre is changing; Iʼd like to hear from our senior performers and learn how we can help each other to continue our careers. We all want to work and we need the protection and governance of our professional Association to maintain and improve our standards.
- Deena Aziz
I’ve worked under a range of contracts across the country for nearly 25 years. I served on the 2011 ITRC, the CAEA-PACT Working Groups for Cultural Diversity and Diversity of Practice (resulting in the Tangerine Projects creation model), and have twice served on the CTA negotiation team. And then there’s the Equity Census.
I was privileged to attend the International Federation of Actors (FIA) Conference this summer, to speak about the Census and other Equity initiatives. I also serve on the organizing committee for the METAs (Montreal’s theatre awards), and generally stick my nose in where opportunities exist to advance inclusion in the arts. After years on the sidelines, I would like to pursue my commitment to advocacy in an official capacity.
While public and institutional resources show no immediate signs of improvement (DON’T FORGET: OCT. 19!), the demographics of our country and the culture of creation continue to evolve. The prevailing challenge for Equity is to represent the full range of membership – all identities, all ways of working – and to make membership in the association relevant and beneficial for ALL artists.
Because if we can’t be respectful and relevant in our own precarious disciplines, then what hope for society?
- Joseph Di Iorio
How and where to begin? All of us at one time or another during our sojourn as professionals have experienced moments of gratitude and, of course, disappointment. Gratitude, as having been selected to perform; disappointment, awaiting the next audition.
My candidature herein is not to highlight this noted truth, which is readily recognized as a constant or obvious challenge that members regularly address with their craft. The reason for my candidature is to commit my time, service and effort at reducing difficulties and hurdles that actors confront while exercising their craft, and to focus on the daily financial burdens (mortgages, salaries, dues, rent, individual/family, other expenses,) which comprise the demands and issues relating to the career choice.
I hold an MFA in Theatre Performance, a Master in Law and memberships in CAEA, ACTRA, UdA, and I intend to bring my experience in these areas to help improve the living standards of the membership. Once elected, I will focus my efforts and other services on behalf of members, to establish and engage the commitment of legislative bodies, professional associations and financial institutions to recognize the inherent contribution brought by member commitment. More importantly, I will work to remedy/alleviate the “prejudices of perception” and accordingly provide a measure of living standard reflective of societal norms. Lastly, thank you for the attention you have allotted me at this time.
- Howard Rosenstein
I only wanted to do this for one term but after some careful thought, I have decided to run again because something very dear to my heart – a thorough discussion and investigation as to how Equity and ACTRA can work even closer together to our mutual benefit has only just begun and I want you to give me the mandate to find a way to make that happen. I sit on the ACTRA/Equity Joint Committee. I also sit on the Diversity Committee. While I am pleased with what we have accomplished so far with reforms affecting independent theatre, diversity in our theatres, and even our relationship with ACTRA, I feel there is far more work to be done. I sit on the Safe and Respectful Workplaces Task Force. Our association must continue to do everything it can, not only to ensure gainful employment for our members, but also to make our members feel safe, respected and supported. In reviewing my last statement to you, I would like to repeat that I will do my utmost to serve our members both locally and nationally, and I will always welcome discussion and debate to help shape things for the betterment of all.
- Eastern Ontario and Outaouais
- Catriona Leger
With two decades of experience as a theatre professional, I have been a member of Equity for 15 years. Having lived across Canada, I am now based in Ottawa and seeking to represent the membership of Eastern Ontario and Outaouais.
Having encountered difficulties in the workplace, I have experienced firsthand how Equity supports members in a positive and solution-oriented manner. Running for Council is an opportunity for me to further understand how the association works and to strengthen the agreements that protect working members.
Our region is unique - intimate and particular with regards to the needs of our members. As a core artistic member of A Company of Fools and a partner in the subDevision collective, I understand the need to balance the realities faced by producing companies with the need to make a living as working artists; ensuring safety while encouraging creativity in a respectful workplace with a limited budget.
Finally, I am passionate about working towards diversity, fairness for all, and the elimination of harassment and discrimination, while increasing opportunities for members in our region.
I love being part of the Eastern Ontario and Outaouais artistic community and it would be an honour to represent our region on Equity Council.
- Teri Loretto
In an increasingly digital and online world, it is important to find new ways to make live performance relevant and sustainable. We need to learn from and with each other to find connections to our audiences – and to tap fresh audiences.
I am a firm supporter of new projects and value our emerging artists. As a professor in the Theatre Arts and Performing Arts programs at Algonquin College, I recognize the importance of fostering new talent. Previous experience includes representing our local community on the board of Prix Rideau Awards, Canada’s only bilingual theatre awards. This tenure has taught me the value of listening to all opinions and representatives of the performing community. As a founding member of Plosive Productions, operating Ottawa’s largest independent theatre, The Gladstone, the need for flexible and respectful contracts has become a priority.
As well, other relevant experience includes working with youth initiatives for The Anxiety Disorders Association of Ontario and more than a decade at CBC Ottawa. I am a member in good standing of ACTRA, Canadian Media Guild and OPSEU. As a working mother of a three-year old, I also recognize the importance of balanced living. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree (Theatre) and a Master’s Degree (Theatre Theory/Dramaturgy).
- Karen Bassett (ACCLAIMED)
Thank you for the opportunity to serve on CAEA council representing the Atlantic region. I have lived in Newfoundland and now reside in Nova Scotia. Atlantic theatre artists have a legacy of creating and performing great work in the midst of meager arts funding, and I am awed by their artistry, tenacity, and ingenuity. I promise to bring these same qualities to the table, understanding the unique challenges of our region, and working with council to support your goals. I am thrilled that diversity on stage has become an important issue -- we can and should do more to have more voices heard, and more faces seen on stage. I have a twenty year span of experience in theatre including main stage, collective creation, repertory, TYA, summer theatre, and credits in acting, choreography, and fight direction. It has been a very rewarding life sharing your stage and your friendship and I am ready to further your vision for CAEA in the coming years.
- Western Opera (Alberta & British Columbia)
- DJ Calhoun
The arts are forever changing and adapting to today’s fast-paced entertainment world. Competing with the instant gratification of the Now culture via YouTube, Vevo and streaming, it is incredibly important to stay prevalent and ahead of the curve. What does this mean for artists and engagers? I think it is incredibly important to create an environment that fosters protection, support and stability for artist in an ever-changing environment, yet understand the new challenges faced by their engagers. For nine years, I have benefited from stability fostered by Equity and I am now committed to continue the evolutionary process as a Councillor, bringing the needs and concerns of Western Opera to the conversation.
- Beth Grieve
My name is Beth Grieve and I am running for Council in the region of Western Opera. I've been a member of Equity since 2004 and, since then, I have worked primarily in Western Canada as a stage manager. I've worked with Vancouver Opera since 2007 and with Edmonton Opera before then.
As a stage manager, I work closely with many Equity agreements, and I served on the negotiating team for the current Vancouver Opera Agreement. It was during the negotiations that I first thought about running for Council. I enjoy talking about different issues and thinking about how various clauses could affect different members. I would love to have the opportunity to continue those thoughts and discussions with other members both regionally and nationally. I think I would make a great Councillor, please consider giving me your vote. Thank you.
- Diane Speirs
I am a singer, music director and teacher. My professional work has been primarily in opera for the past 18 years. The work for Equity opera singers in my region, B.C., is rapidly changing. At the same time, my work as an instructor at Studio 58, Langara College’s professional theatre program, allows me the opportunity to see many new theatre performers at the beginning of their professional careers. The challenges of being a strong, flexible union that works to support theatre professionals in these areas are what led me to put my name forward for Council. I’d like to be part of the discussion.
- Eastern Opera (Saskatchewan and east)
- Van Abrahams
Broadcasting and media streaming are paramount to the survival of opera in this country. As a seven-year member of the Canadian Opera Company chorus, it’s an issue we are currently dealing with. In the next few years, many other companies will face the same issues. The question then is, how can opera companies promote their productions in a way that does not come at the expense of the artist?
I have been an Equity member for 22 years and have been lucky enough to work across Canada, in the U.S., Europe and Africa as a performer. As a producer and playwright, I have only just begun to discover the many different facets that exist in our industry.
Why do I want to be Eastern Opera Councillor? Because I believe a strong and compassionate voice is needed as performers and engagers partner in this new digital world moving forward. Why vote for me? Because above all, I love opera. I love being on the stage, love the power of the music and the majesty of the moment. Because I believe my 22 years of experience can help forge a working relationship that is good for performer and engager alike.
And because I give a shit.
- Stephen Erickson
My 12 years as a crown employee of the Province of Ontario has afforded me the opportunity to sharpen my skills in negotiations, mediations, labour relations, governance and perhaps most importantly, advocacy for the people of Ontario, who would otherwise have no voice. Volunteering on the Diversity, Inclusion & Accessibility Committee, along with my work as Positive Space Champion for the Ontario Public Service Pride Network, as the Deputy for several productions at the Canadian Opera Company, as well as being at the negotiations table for the 2013-2016 Canadian Opera Agreement has given me a real sense of how important strategic leadership is when working in an environment of collective decision making, especially when being entrusted with the diversity of our member’s viewpoints.
At the same time as I started my new career in the government, I was warmly welcomed into the chorus family at the Canadian Opera Company and finally earned my anticipated membership into CAEA! I didn’t know it then, but my roles as chorus tenor and government investigator began their 12-year journey, intertwining, to provide me with a firm foundation of knowledge, experience, accountability and leadership to be your voice for Eastern Opera. It is these qualities, along with innovation, that are the backbone for the outward and proactive vision that is required for a successful future.
I welcome your ideas, thoughts and concerns.
Let your voice be heard – Vote!
- Evan R. Klassen
Six years ago, I noticed a vacancy in our Eastern Opera Council slate – and decided to run for Council. What a run it has been! The past six years have seen lots of changes – and dare I say, improvements – at Equity. We've overhauled many of our member benefit programs, including the insurance plan, RRSP offerings and how individuals join Equity. We've worked hard to clear the red tape for independent and member-driven productions. Our hard-working staff have negotiated improvements and rate increases to our collective agreements. And all the while, it has been a joy to represent our membership, association and industry.
Equity is at a crossroads. We're exploring possibilities of a deeper relationship with ACTRA, and these discussions will have a lasting impact on our association and will affect every member. The Canadian opera sphere is also at a crossroads. Companies are facing hard times, and some are changing their format of presentation. These changes affect our members directly, and so Equity must have a nuanced and sensitive approach when responding and negotiating with our partners. A strong and experienced voice is needed at the Council table.
I am asking that you re-elect me for the 2015-2018 Council term. I started my career in opera as an apprentice stage manager, and have since grown to act as a stage manager for opera and musical theatre across this country. I have served as a passionate arts sector advocate, and have experience as a production manager. I've served as Council's Secretary-Treasurer since 2009, and have joined many of Equity's committees over the years. I would regard it as an honour to continue to represent the Eastern Opera membership nationally.
- Peter McGillivray
An Equity member since my first COC Chorus gig in 2003, I’ve built a decent solo career working within the warm embrace of various Equity agreements for almost every opera company in Canada. I’ve seen how hard we must work collectively to preserve the opportunity to perform at an elite level while still earning a living wage. I’m seeking a Council seat to be a particularly strong voice at the Equity table for soloists and freelancers – a segment of the membership that for various reasons often feels underrepresented in discussions.
Equity faces huge challenges maintaining living standards for working members. Flexibility and imagination will be key to fostering more and better work, and balancing that spirit with vigilance against the erosion of our already hard-won benefits. Yet another challenge will be the ongoing discussions with ACTRA. I believe I can bring the performer’s perspective to all these issues.
I’ve always been interested in governance issues, but it wasn’t until I was badly injured during a performance last year that I truly began to value the support system that Equity has forged for its members. It is my goal to help strengthen and extend that circle of protection.