Author Topic: SMA (and AEA) Discussion  (Read 3624 times)

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SMA (and AEA) Discussion
« on: Aug 02, 2006, 12:56 am »
For some reason, the archived SMA discussion just came up on my new-post list, but you can't reply directly to it, so I thought I'd start a new thread.

Just one thing that came to mind: What if here on SMN, our profiles, (like underneath our avatars on each of our posts, along with Karma and stuff,) could show if we're members of AEA, SMA, IATSE, Student, etc, and include a "Choose not to respond" option. I'm not interested in classifying and dividing us, so much as providing more information. I think it would be helpful to know if an opinion is coming from an SMA member or not. It could help to provoke more lines of thoughts on discussions and also help interest people in points of view from other organizations. What does anyone think?

On a completely other note: From the archived thread: "and though we may not be in your city, we'll certainly try to help you." Interesting statement. Definitley something both SMA and AEA need to work harder at in my opinion. They're both so New York-centric. I think this forum does such a great job of being universally helpful by being non-exclusionary. We have clear and valued points of view from all over the world and across all levels of experience here. Yet the SMA still says things like: "We've discussed having our own members-only forum similar to this one, but as our organization is more professional based it would have a different feel to it." More professional??? It's this attitude that has rubbed me the wrong way from both SMA and AEA for as long as I can remember. Why do they have to consider themselves the bastion of professionalism? Just because you're not a member, doesn't mean you're not a professional. It's this exclusive-club feel that's always turned me off to both organizations. I joined AEA out of career necessity, not because I liked it. SMA doesn't even have that going for it. So why should I join SMA, if I don't need to and they're just going to look down their nose at me? Heck, I went to an SMA drink night in NYC of all places, and as I was assured it would be, it was a pointless waste of time. A handful of old-school stage mgt friends, shooting the breeze, and zero useful networking going on. Similar to what it sounds like the recent AEA SM networking meeting in NYC turned out to be.

The great thing about this site is that it gives so many people such a great opportunity to bounce ideas off each other. The sucky thing about this site is that all of our discussions do zilch for actually getting something DONE within the industry. Why, oh why, can't AEA start a similar forum?!? Just think of the amount of efficient communicating that could happen! Regions would actually start to get their voices heard. Just think if Equity posted Wiki versions of the Rulebooks that members could edit. We'd finally start to streamline the convoluted, contradictory, and just plain foolish legaleze and be able to create a single, efficient language for the contracts, so that members could actually start to understand the rules properly. It might also be great for SMA to do something similar- it might actually give a decent reason to join- but it's hard to say how useful it'd actually be, since they don't actually have any real weight over our AEA contracts.

Just some thoughts.
-Kris Diehl, AEA SM

"Somewhere in the city there's a stage manager waiting,
standing in the shadows with a clipboard in hand..."


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Re: SMA (and AEA) Discussion
« Reply #1 on: Aug 02, 2006, 01:39 pm »
It might also be great for SMA to do something similar- it might actually give a decent reason to join- but it's hard to say how useful it'd actually be, since they don't actually have any real weight over our AEA contracts.

That's debateable -- since the SMA is directly responsible for there being Stage Management seats on Council.  Before my time, but as I understand, the SMA served as sort of an outside caucus to effect those changes.  Looking at current council makeup, I see that the Third Vice President (function: National Stage Manager) and at least 4 other members are also active SMA members (including the SMA current chair).

(Is there a council member online here who can speak to this?)

More recently, I would note that many of the active members of the Off Broadway committee are also SMA members and I believe that the SMA forum sponsored last year is directly responsible for both language and negotiating tactics used in the last set of negotiations.

If you are interested in having more input into the AEA contracts, I suggest joining an Equity committee (whether SMA appeals to you or not) if you haven't already.  (It's free!)

The wheels of negotiation turn slowly (and never forget that AEA contracts are negotiated with producers) but they do turn.

Committees also have significant say in how concessions are granted to producers.


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Re: SMA (and AEA) Discussion
« Reply #2 on: Aug 02, 2006, 06:27 pm »
Greetings All ~

VSM here, AEA Stage Manager Council Member and member of the SMA as well. I applaud Scott's latest missive and echo his recommendations to all AEA members to join a committee and effect a change. That's how it's done at Equity. Members join committees, committees effect change. Every opinion is a valid one, even the unpopular ones, for they may be right!

I also find the SMA a rather regional organization at present. I do know however, that we are trying to get more activity and memebership in all the regions of the US. We continue to increase our numbers outside of the greater NY area all the time. Once again, join an organization and effect a change!

I agree with Kris that AEA has so many contracts that at times it proves confusing. But each of those contracts address different issues significant to the individual working environments that they govern. Yet again, committee members effect changes within the actual rulebooks themselves. I am the Chair of the WCLO contract and we just finished our recent negotiations with the WCLO Signatory Producers. They went very smoothly and both sides walked away feeling good about what we had accomplished.

This site is a favorite of mine because we are so very diverse. Newbies fresh out of school and the more seasoned among us all sharing experiences, ideas, trade secrets and tactics. Bravo for SMNetwork!!!
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Re: SMA (and AEA) Discussion
« Reply #3 on: Aug 03, 2006, 01:05 am »
It's hard for some who are not in the AEA office cities to participate in the committee process... but those of us who are, and do, are constantly trying to get input from other areas.  You may or may not already know that... but what you most likely don't know, and what is hard to understand until you get inside one of these meetings, is some of what the 'old timers sitting around' can bring to the discussion - and that is history.  There is a reason for most everything in our contracts, and it's usually because if you DON'T use all the legalese and cover all the minutia, there will be somebody... as there HAS BEEN somebody before, who will try to screw us because of the omissions or vague language.
None of us love this, but we have to recognize it.  It's a business, and the management side of the business will exploit the labor side when and where it can.  It's our job as labor to be sure it doesn't happen over and over again.  That's a side of the business we might hate, but it is still necessary. 
So... off my soapbox, now.
For the record... I've served as Chair and 1st Vice Chair in the past, and am currently 2nd Vice Chair of the Western Region SM committee, and welcome input from anyone, no matter what region you're in. 
(I'm also an SMA member, and though I've only been to one meeting in NYC, have met many touring SM's through the Operation Observation, and through walking into a theatre and introducing myself when I recognized a name on a poster outside a theatre.  THAT is the primary reason I've stayed a member for so long... because it's the networking and communicating that is so valuable - why else would we be here at this site???)


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Re: SMA (and AEA) Discussion
« Reply #4 on: Aug 03, 2006, 08:58 pm »
I joined SMA for the first time almost six months ago, and haven’t found particularly useful yet. But since there aren’t a lot of resources for SMs out there, I feel like it’s important stay in touch with those that do exist, for the occasional info they provide about the greater SM community.   And I’m hopeful that SMA will improve over time, as it seems like there have been some positive changes made recently.

I get a lot jobs by email from SMA, but they are mostly in CA or NYC, not interesting (or financially viable) enough to be worth applying for, for me personally.  In the DC area, there are several local resources for tech/sm jobs and general theater that I have found more useful than any of the national sources.  I wonder if other “regions” have similar local job sources that may not be well known if your out of a particular loop, and if there could be links to them on the SMA website, to make it more welcoming to those outside of NYC.  I’m also not sure how much outreach to theaters is done; I wonder if it would be feasible to do a periodical mailing to production managers (or whoever does hiring) to various non-NYC theaters, letting them know that SMA exists, and that they can advertise jobs to hundreds of SMs by posting openings through SMA.       

Considering the lack of awareness even among those who are studying theater (see other thread in this forum!), I wouldn’t be surprised if producers, especially the smaller ones, don’t know that SM networking resources are even out there, and can help them find good people.  And since AEA is not about finding people jobs, maybe that's something SMA can do.

Going back to the original post, Kris, I like your idea of having the option of more info, such as affiliations, near our screen names, but think we can also give a little extra through our signatures.
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)


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Re: SMA (and AEA) Discussion
« Reply #5 on: Aug 05, 2006, 06:17 am »
Just one thing that came to mind: What if here on SMN, our profiles, (like underneath our avatars on each of our posts, along with Karma and stuff,) could show if we're members of AEA, SMA, IATSE, Student, etc, and include a "Choose not to respond" option.

Good idea, and done.  Not checkboxes, could only do a text field for immediate purposes, but it's there now as a field called "Affiliations."

It will show up under your name on every post, and also in your profile when viewed by other visitors.

And now that I can do custom fields, I may also add a field for kit lists that shows up only in the profile view.



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Re: SMA (and AEA) Discussion
« Reply #6 on: Aug 16, 2006, 09:28 am »
I agree with my brothers  VSM & Scott. If you want to effect change, join a committee and show up at membership meetings. You can't effect change if you're not involved. I sit on four committees at the SMA and also sit on the Stage Managers Committee at AEA. I'm also the Business Agent for an IATSE Local (I don't get a salary, only my dues get paid and expenses covered). And if I hadn't joined the unions oh so many years ago, I would still be working 80 hour weeks for $500 per show. Organizations can affect change. I used to think that the SMA was a regional organization, but then I realized that it could reach everyone and every region if members in those regions got involved. It's not about what that organization can do for you, but what you can do for that group and your fellow members. Network, Network, Network!!!!


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