Monday, December 14, 2015

And so we begin!

It was like the first day of school. Equity's new Council met for the first time in Toronto. We had our binder, lots of paper, our hopes, our fears, our areas of utter confusion. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I'd hope to make a new friend or two and that there would be snacks. Both goals were achieved!

The first two days were spent with our lively and very well informed instructor, Susan Mogensen of Brown Dog Consulting,  who taught us all about Policy Governance, which is what we use as our governance model. We learned while twisting pipe cleaners into artistic creations, arguing over finer points and smaller group chats. What is Policy Governance you ask? Well, to break it down, it's all about creating concrete vision statements (called Ends) and then making sure all the activities of our organization (called Means) are both appropriate and direct toward achieving the Ends. It keeps us all accountable and making sure what we plan to do fits within the vision for the organization. So, um, now we know how to continue to make Equity great, in theory anyway.

Then the Council business began. Could we new Councillors start to use what we had learned from Susan? Would there still be snacks? The previous Councillors led the way with motions and more motions, and maybe a few emotions. We elected our president (Allan Teichman is back!), 1st Vice President (Katey Wright), Second Vice President (yours truly, Sedina Fiati) and Secretary/Treasurer (Scott Bellis). Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to get to work. There is so much to do! I know I am reading the reports of the previous term, going over that Council Focus survey and dreaming up ideas for the next 3 years.

If there is one thing I want to achieve, it is getting the members more involved, more than surveys, more than Facebook commenting. It's time get "old school" and start doing things face to face again. I know sometimes we can feel powerless in this industry, but we should all feel ownership over Equity. This is our association and we are a family. Like any family, we don't always have to agree, but to create a healthy dynamic, we should address issues that come up and stand in solidarity with each other. 

This new Council is truly a fabulous group of people who are ready to hit the ground running, so expect some initiatives to start happening really soon. Please keep us accountable by sending us your ideas, feedback and concerns via email, social media, contacting our Executive Director Arden Ryshpan, sending a smoke signal, carrier pigeon or Game of Thrones raven. Hey, even send us a ye olde mail letter or package. I for one would love holiday cookies (the actual cookies, not the cookie tin with sewing supplies), Pot of Gold chocolates (please remove the cherry ones) or your annual family holiday card (bonus points for matching sweaters). I look forward to serving you as Second Vice President. Cheers to a new term.

Sedina Fiati
Equity Councillor (Ontario)
Second Vice President
Lover of Cookies

Friday, December 4, 2015

Council Focus Survey Summary

In prep for the inaugural meeting, Council got its first look at the detailed Council Focus survey results. We still have to work our way through them, but we wanted to share the overall picture with you right away.

304 submissions were received from a total of 213 members, which is almost an identical participation rate from the last time we did this. Up to three suggestions were solicited per response – just less than half of submissions included at least two, and one-quarter included three. About one-third of the respondents indicated that they would be willing to be contacted in regards to their submissions, which means we have access to even more detail, if needed.

Each submission was assigned a short topic heading based on the main point being made. Then, related and compatible categories were combined – the top two suggestions are good examples of this.

Here are the results ranked by frequency.

Inclusivity (diversity) 45
Stage management issues 32
Indie theatre 29
Insurance 20
ACTRA (partnership with) 18
Member Engagement and Involvement 13
Opera 13
Engagements (general) 12
Advocacy 11
Rehearsal issues 9
Engagements (terms) 9
Fees 8
Jobs 8
Scale agreements 7
Regional issues 6
Governance 6
Touring 5
Seniors 5
Respectful workplaces 5
Digital Media 5
Auditions 5
Visioning  for the future 4
Communications 3
Career transition 3
Understudy 2
U.S. work  2
Safety at work 2
Promotion of the Artist 2
Professional development  2
Mentorship 2
Joining 2
Engagers 2
Elections 2
Dues 2
Audiences 2
Volunteer shows 1
Staff 1
Showcase opportunities 1
Script development 1
Reciprocity 1
Engager education 1
Employment insurance 1
Member Service 1
Benefits and Fundraisers  1

General comments were also requested at the end of the survey, and we received 49 of these.

Council will be reviewing the overall patterns in these results as a priority item and making a determination on which topics to target over the course of the term. Members can also expect to see some committees formed early in the new year to tackle major issues.

As always, we welcome your comment and feedback. You can contact me at, or Katey Wright, Second Vice-president at, or either of us through the national office.