HOW TO GET INVOLVED WITH AEA COMMITTEES – START NOW
As we continue to fight for our collective voice to be heard, some of you may be asking what else you can do to support that effort. I encourage you to join an AEA committee and show that we are a force that will not lay down, that we are organized and that we will keep demanding to be listened to at every level. To that end, I contacted the AEA offices in North Hollywood regarding the process to join a committee. The information is not available or easily found in the member portal of AEA so I am detailing the process below in a Q&A format. I hope having the information here in one place will ease the process for you.
~ Edgar Landa, Candidate for AEA Western Region Councillor
FAQs about joining an AEA committee
For more information please call the AEA offices and you will be connected to the appropriate person.
Q: How does a member join a committee? Where is that information found?
A: To join a national or local committee submit an application directly to AEA. The application can be requested by calling AEA.
Q: Who can join a committee?
A: Any member in good standing and not in conflict of interest. (Members who go into “conflict-of-interest” while serving on a committee are put on Conflict Of Interest (COI) and are removed from the Committee until such time that the Member is no longer a Producer – after the Member is no longer a Producer he/she is no longer in (COI) and can re-join the Committee. This happens all the time – Members can go in and out of COI – and there is a different amount of time that the Member needs to be out of Conflict of Interest before he/she can re-join a Committee.)
Q: How long does the process take to join a committee?
A: “The process to join a Committee can take a while depending on how quickly the information can be distributed to the Committee Chair and the applicant’s name presented to either Council (for National Committees) or the Regional Board (in your case the Western Regional Board) for Regional Committees. Once I receive a volunteer application, I look at the applicant’s requests and check to see if he/she is in COI or has worked the contracts of any Contract Committee for which he/she is applying. If everything checks out I then send that person’s name to the Chair of the Committee who will then look at my notes and decide whether or not the applicant is a good fit for the Committee. If so, then the Chair sends the applicant’s name to the Council or Board to be approved as an Observer. Once the applicant is approved by Council or Board as an Observer the person must attend a minimum of three (3) working meetings of the Committee – the Observer may speak and ask questions at the meetings but cannot yet vote. Once it is determined that the Observer is fully committed to the Committee, the Chair then presents that person’s name again to either the Council or the Board for approval as a full voting Member. Once approved as a Member, the person is a full voting Member. So, again the answer regarding “how long the process takes” is “it depends” For instance, Council and Board meetings are not usually held during July and August, so if a person sends in their application in late June, it might take two or three months before the Council or Board even sees the applicant’s name for approval. Timing is everything. And of course the process between being an Observer and then becoming a voting Member can take longer depending on the Committee and how often or how infrequently the Committee meets.” – AEA staff member
Q: Are there any committees that do not require a member not to be in conflict of interest?
A: No. All committees require a member not to be in conflict of interest. (*** This is something that I will be addressing in a different format once the election cycle closes. – EL)
Q: Are there caps to the number of members on each committee?
A: Yes, regional committees are capped at 25 people and AEA is looking into increasing the cap on national committees.
Q: How long does a committee term last?
A: Serving on a committee is open ended. A member can resign from a committee at any time. Or the Chair might ask a member to resign if that member has more than three unexcused absences. Once in a while letters are sent to all committee members asking them if they are still interested in serving on the committee.
Q: What is the time commitment involved?
A: The time commitment varies from committee to committee. Some committees meet more regularly than others. Usually committees meet as needed. For instance the Developing Theatres Committee will meet when a Producer requests concessions or when a theatre’s season agreement is being re-considered. Other Committees don’t meet as often as the Developing Theatres Committee because there isn’t that much business to take care of for those committees…And then, of course, if it is a Contract Committee and that Contract happens to be up for re-negotiation, then the Committee will suddenly have more regularly scheduled meetings. It all depends on the work that needs to be done for the individual Committees.
Q: Where can I find information about the focus or purpose of each committee?
A: There are no descriptions of a committee’s focus available anywhere – not yet anyway. AEA is working on this since we have just begun work on the Committee system/structure and the database used for Committees is currently being migrated into the database system used by all the other departments – the Committee database has been separate and used only by the Governance Department – the databases being merged is in process. However, Contract Committees (Production, LORT, WCLO, HAT, etc.) focus on the contract and any concessions to that contract that a Producer might request.
Q: How can I find out which committees are in need of members and which are full?
A: There is no system in place to let a member quickly and easily access this information. AEA is in the process of revamping the committee system/structure so some committees are being trimmed while others are gathering names of interested applicants. This process will take some time but do submit an application, regardless. AEA says they will do everything possible to place an interested member on a committee.
Q: Are the names of the committee chairs and members available?
A: No. Those names are not publicly available at this time and it is unclear if they will be made available via the member portal after the restructure due to privacy issues. AEA doesn’t want people who can hire or fire Members to know who chairs a Committee if that person who can hire or fire a Member might be taking issues to the Committee Chaired by someone who is working at that person’s theatre. The same reason applies for not publicizing the names of the committee members.
Q: What is the process to creating a new committee?
A: A Councilor or AEA staff member can make a request to the National Council for the formation of a new committee. The National Council then discusses the request and the need for such a committee. Once Council discusses the request, a Councilor can make a motion to form the Committee and if there is a second to the motion then there is another discussion period followed by a vote.