On May 19, 20, 21 around 200 Equity members gathered in Birmingham to debate, discuss and vote on the motions submitted from across the association which will shape the next 12 month of Equity's policy making, campaigning and industry contract negotiations. It was also a valuable opportunity for members representing their Branches and committees to meet each other to talk shop and drink beer!
From the arrival at Birmingham New Street Station I was 'on the ground' making media... as I do, when I can. I can't help it. Why? I'm compelled to share. No one can be every where and remote audience engagement is a fascination of mine. This event was special. One, its a direct way I can contribute to the industry closest to my heart and two, it's an opportunity to scrutinise social media adoption and application amongst its workers and practitioners.
As the ARC (Annual Representatives Conference) is not a public event certain confidentiality's must be respected. This meant that as I was intending to blog I wasn't permitted to photograph representatives without explicit permission. I never like posed photos there for no pics with people. The Stage reported on the main debate on the agenda which will redefine the democratic structure of the union.
Did this mean no social media? Not in the least, Equity selectively tweeted, posted to Facebook and the hashtag #ARC2012 was initiated, monitored and engaged enabling interested tweeters to follow the main activity of the conference. The beauty of twitter is it's function as a back channel, being able to connect with fellow representatives and those unable to attend and exchange pleasantries.
Having watched the twitter activity over the last few years it was heartening to see a mark increase of chatter before and during the conference. The interest in social media, especially twitter has increased too. The concern how ever was the development of skills with a fear of personal networks mixng with professional and fan base connection was high.
Although the FEU (Federation of Entertainment Unions) do provide web training the entry level and resulting real skills Equity members need is that of entry level, absolute beginners with access to the hardware not to mention the connectivity being voiced as the hurdles to engagement.
But it wasn't all work (read Equity's ARC reflection and motion results), there was an opportunity to play. This year the after dinner entertainment was a charity casino night in aid of ICAF (International Committee for Artists' Freedom) I did take a few pics here. It was great fun and for a great cause.
Equity have posted a short article "Equity's conference backs change" gives an overview of the serious business that was carried out over the 3 day conference. The Stage have reported on the structure change too. "Equity restructure plans gain conference go-ahead"
For me I wanted to blog to attempt to give an impression of the event itself from 'on the ground'.