Candidate Statement: "As an Equity member for 14 years, a large portion of my career has been spent in the chorus and being an understudy, swing, deputy, and dance captain. I understand what it means to work as an ensemble, coordinate efficiently, and bring people together. I believe the future we want for our union is attainable if we effectively work together and organize. In 2020, I became an Eastern Chorus Delegate, where I was able to attend the first national convention. At that convention, I co-sponsored resolutions addressing harassment in the workplace, tracking systems, disciplinary action against repeat offenders, and creating a process for more BIPOC inclusion on all regional disciplinary hearing committees. I have served on the Boston Liaison, Convention, EEO, and Prevent Harassment and Hostile Work Environments committees. Living outside of an office city, I understand what it means and takes to invest in your home theatre community. I understand the sacrifices and hear the voices of those who feel the odds are stacked against them. As an educator, I have seen firsthand the needs and wants of our future members. Change requires including voices in the room that are an accurate reflection of our entire membership. Leaders with diverse backgrounds and views. I want to be a voice for you. As a councilor, I will be a strong champion for our members, listen with empathy, and fight hard for a union that’s more proactive and less reactive."
Hello there! I’m Taavon Gamble (pronouns he/him), and I’m running to be an Eastern Chorus Councilor in the 2022 Actors’ Equity Association election. I started my time in governance when I ran to be an Eastern Chorus Delegate in 2020. To say that time has been a wild ride would be an understatement. Learning and participating during a global pandemic that further isolated and divided a group/industry built on togetherness has been challenging.
I don’t think many would argue that we need better and increased communication with membership. “To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, to be late...”. Unfortunately, frequently AEA appears late and reactionary. We need to continue actively engaging membership and extending/revamping our education programs so members (including future members) are better equipped. We need to invest in a long-term strategic plan that embraces technology and explores all possibilities. Embracing innovative change within our leadership will help tremendously toward our goal of communicating proactively with membership and in improving their day-to-day experiences interacting with their employers. I believe strengthening our technological infrastructure is imperative for the sustainable future of our union.
Over the past two years we have seen increased interests and plans from employers surrounding DEI and harassment trainings. However, the inconsistency and sometimes lack of training continues to be problematic. We need our union to set the standards and goal-posts for employers to follow. Specific guidelines and resources will be imperative in making sure all members are on the same page and speaking the same language regardless of where they are working. Employers must also understand that this work doesn't just stop with actors and stage managers; every individual employed by the employer must be included in all trainings.
Contract negotiations are a major component of our union. One contract up for negotiation that I’m very excited about is the NEAT (New England Area Theatres Agreement). This is a contract that I and many in this community depend on. This agreement between a large number of producers in the New England area is set to expire on September 4, 2022. We have a chance to go back to the negotiating table to fight for gains in salaries, implement stronger anti-harassment/discrimination language, create better workplace safety protections, and more. I look forward to working with this committee to build better protections and wages for our members on this contract.
As a councilor, I will be a voice for all. There will be many issues on the floor that I might not have direct access to but still demands my focus, support, and action. I look forward to being an additional channel for members to bring forth their experiences and concerns to bring to the attention of our leadership and staff.