President’s Message – July 2018

Today’s ACTRAvists are tomorrow’s pioneers
Setting the stage for future generations of professional performers over the next 75 years.

Dear ACTRA members,

As we stand on the shoulders of the dedicated member volunteers who laid the foundation for our successful and respect-ed union, today members from across the country are working hard on our behalf.

In recent months, I’ve had the pleasure of attending many branch AGMs and 75th-anniversary celebrations. I’m thrilled to report our members across Canada are sharing their ideas and experience as they work to make ACTRA stronger.

From our dynamic bargaining teams, to our dedicated policy leaders, to our many national and branch committees—our 75 years of achievements for this union have been extraordinary. ACTRA is the go-to voice on the arts in Canada; the FIRST artists’ union to establish minimum fees and Use rights for digital media and the FIRST to land a national contract for videogame production. ACTRA members are setting the standards for performers’ unions all around the world.

Since the dawn of the Internet and the digital age, we’ve made it clear that professional performers will not work for free and, in 2007, we called the first strike in our union’s history for that very reason. In every negotiation, we demand fair compensation and credit for our work, safe work environments and the respect we deserve for the important value our work adds to production.

Our commitment to support each other is essential for our collective safety. We’ve negotiated rules into our agreements to ensure a safe environment for children working on ACTRA sets and we’ve lobbied to extend those provisions into provincial laws to protect all children working in the entertainment sector. Our National Bar-gaining Committee is currently negotiating the CBC Agreement and next up will be one of our largest collective agreements, the Independent Production Agreement (IPA). Please watch for IPA bargaining updates in the coming months as we’ll need your support.

This past June, our National Council met to give thoughtful oversight to our finances, work opportunities, governance, changing technologies, Canadian production, political policies and more. We’ve updated our ACTRA Equality Statement and released our new industry-wide Code of Conduct addressing harassment. And, as members of the International Federation of Actors (FIA), we are committed to global solidarity and the support of diversity, inclusion, gender parity, accessibility and zero tolerance for harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and violence in all workspaces.

As part of the Canadian Unions for Equality on Screen (CUES), our National Women’s Committee has produced ground-breaking gender reports and our award-winning Reel Women Seen advocacy video will be released online this fall. Our National Diversity Committee has launched over 10 advocacy videos that have been screened across the country, including the (perhaps first-ever) guide for auditioning deaf performers, “Tips Guide for Auditioning Deaf Actors.” You can find all on

Our National Stunt Committee represents our world-class community of professional stunt performers and stunt coordinators. UBCP/ACTRA’s stunt committee recently hosted a Concussion Support Group meeting. Our branch committees and members are working together to keep every perform-er and set both safe and respectful.

Our National Diversity Committee meets regularly to share initiatives from all of our branches, including the efforts of Toronto’s Sandi Ross #ShareTheScreen Awards, which goes to a producer and to a writer who champion inclusion in their work.

We are a member-run union, addressing member concerns. It’s important we take charge of our careers by ensuring we members are helping inform staff and motivate policy. This is where committee work comes in: Voice, Background, LGBTQ, Apprentice, videogaming and more. Your voice matters.

Our Young Emerging Actors Assemblies in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are busy creating their own film work, mentorship opportunities, festival partnerships and much more. The Act Your Age Committee in Toronto and PAL Canada’s Supporting Cast are also both launching initiatives devoted to supporting the careers of our seasoned performers.

Many of our volunteer members need to be thanked for sharing their time and energy—for engaging in union activism. I encourage everyone to find out who is step-ping up to work at your branch and then to let them know you appreciate their efforts.

I’ve been a member since 1992 and have learned ACTRA is about all the 25,000 of us, from coast-to-coast-to-coast, standing together. I am inspired by the ongoing committee work at the branch and national levels. If you’d like to do more to support your union, check out what’s happening at your branch. I encourage you to get involved, and share your experiences and ideas.

We’re a member-built union and our future depends on the continued efforts of ACTRA members just like you.

In solidarity,

David Sparrow