by James Nicola
Building on last week's blog about rethinking the way we imagine our careers as storytellers living in abundance, I love Jim's take on how we can take this moment and transform it into life-giving change.
"I've been thinking about all my performer friends.
Specifically, the challenges they face with their unions.
SAG/AFTRA and AEA.
Both are having serious problems with their health insurance plans.
And the two unions are now locked in a nasty jurisdictional dispute.
Much of what I am reading and hearing about this situation reflects what I observe about almost all other aspects of American social infrastructure and agreements. In this extreme moment of chaos and destruction brought on by a deadly pandemic, we are over and over again talking about treating the symptoms, and not addressing how to fix the underlying dysfunctions. We remain superficial and resist digging deeper in order to heal the broken structures and underlying values.
Instead of fighting about which union should have jurisdiction over streamed theatrical content—how about creating ONE Union for performers? Almost all other countries have one union, if any, for performers that covers their work in all media. A much healthier, simpler, SANER way of existing.
Instead of trying to prop up the collapsing health plans of the two different unions, shouldn’t we actually be working toward a national health system? Who designed a system in which health care is contingent on employment? In this moment, where millions of people have lost their jobs, and with them their health care, isn’t it clear to people that when you are too sick to work, you loose your healthcare? Just when in your entire life you are most likely to need it most? Where is the logic in that?
This cultural neurosis pervades all of the structures that underpin our American lives. Staying on the surface and avoiding the real questions.
We all need to insist that our political representatives do better, that they deepen their discourse and solve the structural problems that are so blatantly on display now. And stop bickering about the superficial symptoms.
The time is now. This moment is a golden moment of opportunity to reconceive the way we live."
--James Nicola, Artistic Director of New York Theatre Workshop
April Yvette Thompson