Welcome to Episode 25 of the West Park Park Bench Podcast and today I am back on the park bench. I have been for swim, I spend the whole of the swim, contemplating as I do what this episode would be, and there's a lot of talk at the moment about ChatGTP and artificial intelligence. And I really wanted to talk about that, however, terribly sorry if you were thinking, Oh, the title hasn't given that bit away. That will be next week or I might make another one but on my way out of the pool, I received a phone call from the East Midlands regional organiser in base of equity.
Equity is going through a period of change right now. And one of that structures that is changing is the branch structure. Until now we've had two sets of branches in regions there has been general branches and there's been variety branches, and there's a real sense of heritage that was baked into the the branch network as it was however, it wasn't really getting the attention needed from head office, and as a result, branches were left on their own, numbers dwindled. GDPR got introduced and members who were locally dedicated to engaging those members that lived within a region were kind of deserted and it's something that really upset me for a long time because we aren't marketers, as in entertainments professionals quite a lot of entertainments professionals because they're good communicators, as their gig jobs, sometimes they do side hustle, and a lot of those can have marketing and SEO and web design and and comms built into the skill set that have but not everybody has it. And also it's very hard to do it on your own, and it's also very hard to do it. When you've got your hands tied behind your back, you're wearing a blindfold, and you've got to stand on one leg. And essentially that's what GDPR within equity has done to the branch network and gradually eroded and eroded and eroded. And something had to be done. Something drastic was done.
As the pivot queen, I am happy to now move on with the new regime. My passion is meeting other Equity members and why why am I interested in meeting Equity members?
Well, Equity members have decided that their vocation in the arts is enough industrially for them to invest in paying an annual membership to the trade union. Now the trade union at the moment is very, very wrapped up as it should be in terms and conditions and those terms and conditions are extending into the outside world of the entertainments industry beyond the curtain if you like into cost of living crisis and the union in London is doing a lot of work to be present and support unions on the front line and a lot of gigging professionals who might not be working right now or are working in the evening and and have flexibility within their schedules are able to be on the ground at Parliament Square, holding the flag of Equity and being there to say no, it is not good enough that you're treating nurses and fire workers and police and any public sector workers and any any worker that at the moment. There's not enough money. There's a lot of people what I sort of feel like a working class, empathetic contingency to recognise that money is tight for everybody money is tight for managers money is tight for company directors money is tight. However, there's a lot of people who are in that money is tight but company directors CEOs, managers, corporate business directors that have Teslas. Now, I'm actually quite shocked how many people within my network have a Tesla to the extent that because I don't have many people of that echelon. They all have Teslas or the majority 80% of them do and therefore it's kind of not a unique toy. As far as I'm concerned. It feels like everyone has a Tesla who has a certain amount of money. And I'm not saying people with Teslas need to pay an extra tax Absolutely not. But what I am saying is that those of us that work at the coalface if you like, of employment, and trade our labour for money, are finding it so hard right now seeing energy increasing and seeing the cost of living. I mean, I have a pension that increases with inflation that when it comes round, that is going to increase to a certain amount and I'm not usually quite, I'm not used to it going up very much, but that might go up quite a lot. So that's a payment that I've got to consider. So why have I changed this podcast now? What is the name of this podcast? You will already know because you've seen the title. This podcast is going to be
Inclusion, I think inclusion and the reason why it is inclusion is because the conversation that I had with Ian Bayes I mentioned at the beginning is about the new East Midlands Equity Branch. And the first meeting is going to take place on the first of February at nonsuch studios in Nottingham city centre. It's a bit of a departure from what members in the region are familiar with. There's a huge variety legacy and the more I asked people about what it is they do, there's so many young burlesque performers, storytellers, gigging professionals who are in bands, musicians that are Equity members, and all of these members are what would have fallen into the original variety branch designation and the general branch designation. We've never had a general branch so there's always been a sense of, it's not for me, and then the guys they're running it for years and years and years. Were the really an inspiration of how how a sector can be and I guess I was very envious, very envious, and I turned up to several meetings, but it was it wasn't it wasn't where I needed to be, and as a professional, as a professional extension to my business. Selfishly, it wasn't providing anything that was really going to be beneficial to my day to day running of my business. It was interesting to find out what variety we're up to, but it wasn't embedded in film, TV, Internet, digital, new media, theatre, immersive theatre, the expansion of contracts, and how we as independent professionals can use the union and I gradually felt that it wasn't it wasn't my home and I kind of felt that now that there's a East Midlands Branch. There's a new start and a new beginning and I feel really privileged to be asked to try and drive that forward because as someone who was in the online branch and I held on to the online branch like a dog with its favourite bone for the for years, and probably more years than I should have done. But it came to its conclusion and it came to a conclusion because the world was changing. The union was changing. Everything was changing. And when shift that's that cataclysmic takes place, you kind of have to decide whether you're going to go with the flow or be swamped and suffocated by the tsunami. That inevitably is triggered. And I don't like to be in the tsunami position. So I have put my rubber rings on I have turned my attention back to engaging with union members within the East Midlands which in itself is a massive remit.
But inclusion why is this called inclusion? Now them with equity, there is a rolling programme of things that are happening. And one of the things that is happening no matter what the rule changes have been no matter what the branch structure is, is the annual conference, and the annual conference takes place in May. And the annual conference is the opportunity for members and the region's the branches to think about one thing that they want to change if you could change something, what would it be? And that's the question that Ian asked me because the first meeting is on the first of February and the deadline for getting in motions for the first conference under this new regime is the first of March. You think hold on, we're meeting on the first of February, but there's the first of March. But the motions the notification to tell people that they need to propose motions has to be 14 days before the motion is proposed. And then everybody needs 14 days to look at it. There's there's an elongation of time. That's not working. So Ian said to me, is there something that I think could be a motion. Now, it is a voice that you will have and this is going to East Midlands members now because this is also going to be sent as an audio link with the newsletter.
So if you've reached this far and you are an equity member, and you're an East Midlands Equity member, there is going to be a inaugural meeting on the first of February at Nonsuch studios. You should have received an email telling you all about what's going on and a second email with a zoom link and some more information link and hopefully the motion that I'm going to talk about today. So you will have a sense of what is going to happen because one of the things that concerns me is that all the people that signed up so far are names that I do not know. So as far as I'm concerned, you're people who have never actively participated in a union event that I've been involved with at least. So I really want to give as many people a foundation in what it means to be a branch. Firstly before we form the committee, so the whole point of February's meeting was for us all to meet, get a sense of what we need to do rather than you being channelled into something that you're going what what we've got to do committee what whats this! and have a sense that we can go away Come back in the first of March meeting and go okay, we need to form a committee. However, that meeting where we form a committee, and was to be the one that I thought we were going to be able to talk about proposing a motion is already passed.
So for those of you that have made it here and for inclusion, this is my proposal for a motion for the 2023 Equity Annual Conference. I've got to condense this into 250 words so I have been part of the stage management committee for more years than I was involved with the online branch. And I don't live in London. I live in the Midlands. And when petitions and when protests and marches take place in London, I am not able to go and yet I would like to be present. And I guess this is a thing for me about presence of digital and physical. And what we did in the past with one of the stage management members was we all gave her a list of names saying that we wish we could be here and she wrote those names on a t shirt, which was awesome. But my proposal is going to be that equity find a mechanism so it's as coucil so we have to ask council for something. Now if you read this, read this. If you listen to this, and you are an equity person who does motions and things. You've got problems you've got a couple of days to get it to me and we might be able to use your wording instead or something or you know we put them in but what I would like to ask counsel for is to consider creating a mechanism in which people who cannot come to protests can submit their name to be included on a list that is carried sort of like a scroll. So equity scroll that has the names of people who wished could be there and couldn't so that when the 30 or 40 members of equity who were with their flag so the London branches are always present with a with a presence and they are amazing, and I've met a few of them over the years. And during this mechanism where everything changed, I met a lot of them. So this inclusion is to find a mechanism in which counsel encourage the London branches may be too submit names to be included in a scroll that is carried on to protests and with the flag. That I think and yes. And it's things like this, that I'm going to wrap this to the end this is going to be very long, so that's why it's called inclusion. You'll know it's called inclusion because you've read the title. I have not read the title. And hopefully if you're East Midlands you will get a message about this.
And if you come to the meeting, you will get to speak about this and you will get to say whether you think it's a good thing I've got I've got some dogs interested that's the thing. I've had some visitations for dogs saying bring it to a close. So I'm going to try and do a ChatGTP3 so if you still go what AI GTP three, what is that? Sounds a little bit like a Formula One racing car thing. But there is a huge uprising of artificial intelligent bots that will generate very, very cohesive text for you there's part of the first email that the Midlands Branch received that actually asked ChatGTP for some pointers and guidance for what I might write. So hey, let's see if I can write this motion through ChatGTP and that will be my next. That will be my next podcast or update.
So thank you. Thank you so much. little reminder first of February Nonswuch Studios is the first meeting of the Equity East Midlands branch. There is an Eventbrite link. And there will be a zoom link being sent. do contact me I'm Caron Lyon. I'm an independent theatre producer and digital stage manager living and working in the East Midlands and I am really looking forward to meeting equity members on zoom in the venue and just seeing how we can come together to be included. So inclusion as well so
the crows are in the background. The frost on the park is beautiful, but cold. The air is cold, the trees are stripped bare. The evergreen trees aren't just keeping that semblance of greenery, but it's that that's dark winter green. So I'm gonna head home get warm. Thank you so much for listening this far. This has been the West Park Park Be Pnchodcast episode 25.