Equity Feed

The Rise of Thinking Machines: What Performers Need to Know

 

At the October meeting of Equity's East Midlands Branch the speaker, the first “Branch Talks with…Industrial Officials” guest was Liam Budd.

The use of Artificial Intelligence across the audio and entertainment industry is on the rise. At the recent Equity East Midlands branch meeting, Liam from Equity's recorded media department gave an eye-opening presentation about artificial intelligence and its impacts on the entertainment world.

Liam is a strong advocate for the protection of performers from unregulated technology. In June 2023, he called on the government to “step in with robust measures to properly regulate the use of AI in the entertainment industry”.

AI, Liam clarified refers to "thinking" machines that can perform tasks requiring human intelligence and creativity. While the technology presents opportunities, legitimate concerns exist around job displacement, infringement of rights, and ethical implications.

As highlighted in Liam's talk, AI is already being used to clone the voices, images, and performances of individuals - sometimes without consent. Harmful deep fakes represent one troubling application, with women frequently victimised.

Liam explained Equity's efforts to empower members through initiatives like the "Stop AI Stealing the Show" campaign and a comprehensive AI toolkit. The union aims to strengthen performer rights and incorporate ethical AI clauses into collective bargaining agreements.

Key principles include centring human creativity, requiring consent, giving artists control over digital likenesses, ensuring fair compensation, and promoting transparency.

As AI capacities rapidly advance, we face a critical window of opportunity. Performers must educate themselves on the issues and possibilities surrounding thinking machines. Groups like Equity are advocating for ethical frameworks, but success hinges on members proactively exercising their rights.

The future remains unwritten. But by banding together and insisting technology serves creators - not replace them - we can author a new script. Our art forms depend on the infusion of humanity. As Equity's toolkit states, progress cannot lower the curtain on live performance.

Write up by Caron Lyon (assisted by Claude.AI)

RESOURCES

“Guidance on Artificial Intelligence work for artists” is one of the resources produced by the department. Equity has also compiled an AI Toolkit to help members begin to give context to this new technology and help you understand how to recognise and manage it as it impacts and integrates into our working lives. It will affect everyone differently.

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Online Branch / EquitySRC21 Conference & an invite to the Brain Movie experience

OLB at EquitySRC21

This weekend is the union's annual conference. Not the usual ARC (Annual Reps Conference) the rules state that must take place in May, but an SRC (Special Reps Conference) following the rule that is in place should an ARC not be possible… errr Covid! Last year was the first SRC and that took place on Zoom last November. This year is a travel and turn up affair.

In previous years I have tried to infuse a digital component where I can. The Online Branch has had a presence at past conferences before representatives were invited. The Online Branch has officially been recognised as a Branch with reps invited since 2018.

Before that I attended conferences while elected to the Stage Management Committee and before that representing the Independent Theatre Arts Committee which emerged from the Small Scale Theatre Committee. My first conference was in 2007, I think! It’s been a while. I have seen substantial changes to the fabric of the union and how it’s developed and changed.

It’s been a glacial paced process!

What have I got planned for SRC, digitally for those not attending as a elected representative?

EquitySRC21-pixlr-bg-resultI will be hosting Zoom meet ups scheduled around my responsibilities to participate with the conference as an attendee, as your representative. There are 2 opportunities for this having looked at the time table and communicated with GuildHouse.

Saturday evening. (25th September) Film Night.

I’ll be arriving at the Conference centre which is conveniently the hotel mid-afternoon. While thinking about planning this activity I came across a ‘performance’ being streamed to Twitch.

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The MOMENT is a brain controlled dystopian sci-fi film following three interlinking stories. Directed by artist and researcher Richard Ramchurn, it uses a Neurosky headset to detect EEG brain waves which will effect the edit, sound mix and narrative of a specially created movie.

There are over 18 billion narrative combinations of the film. Each screening is unique.

The MOMENT is screened in an intimate Mobile Cinema inside a converted caravan seating up to 6 audience members and one controller.

More info and art work from the film.

I'd very much like to share this experience with fellow members. It will be the third time I experience the piece. It’s a brain controlled film. Controlled by one brain and on this occasion the controller's being streamed. We will watch the film interpreted by their brain waves.

There will never be this version of this film seen again. (not generated live, the recording will be fixed)

Check out the first time I encountered the Brain Movie. It gives a little insight to how it works. It’s a perfect demonstration of a live streamed live-interaction of a produced on-demand creation that will be unique and seen this one time only.

Join Me - Opportunity 1 - Film night on Zoom (Open to all Equity members and Non members)

Its screening live on Twitch, Saturday evening from 8pm - 9pm UK time. I have a ticket. This will be screen-shared in Zoom. I will be in my hotel room having arrived for Equity's Sprecial Reps Conference on Sunday and Monday with any conference colleague who join me from the bar.

You can watch with us or watch the Twitch stream.

I encourage you to register a free pass or pay for a ticket >> EVENTBRITE LINK

This way you can engage with the Twitch chat as well as my Zoom chat which is only those joining me.

I will open the zoom call from 7.45 and keep it open until 9.15. The link to join will be posted in the Online Branch Loomio Group.

For Equity members and OLB members not in the Online Branch Loomio Group and non members for the Film night. Message me on Facebook, WhatsApp or DM me on Twitter if you'd like to join me, have any questions about audience satellite events or just join me for the SRC amplified ride. 

Open Space at SRC - Opportunity 2 (Equity Members ONLY)

Scan 1The second opportunity is as part of the Open Space and Fringe session taking place as part of the conference on Monday 27th. I have been given the green light to host or attend with technology (to include you) an OpenSpace/Fringe session.

See page 9 - 12 in the conference guide [PDF LINK]

Would you like to take a subject already tabled or would you like to call a session relevant to the branch? I have to propose the session topic to the OpenSpace host Paul Valentine on Sunday night (26th September) at 7pm.

I've not had time to do a lot of planning and I apologies if you can’t attend or participate at such short notice. I run these remote access opportunities in order to demonstrate to Equity how remote access and hybrid engagement with branch members could be approached.

Any questions email [email protected] or message through Facebook or ideally for Online Branch members through the OLB Loomio Group. That and Twitter is where my social media senses will be pointed during conference.

Thanks for reading to the end.

Hope to see you on Saturday or Monday.

Beyond that news of the branch committee and a report back from SRC to follow.


I wish I was less tenacious. The Online Branch.

Equity Online Branch Digital Summit

Anyone involved with Audience Development by which I mean the act of building awareness towards a specific location to put people before a performance, knows how hard it is.
It’s take commitment and honest respect.

Bringing people to you is an act of venerability. They don’t know who you are or even care.

You care deeply, your livelihood depends upon it. Ironic eh?

For years now I have works against the odds to reach a position where Equity’s idea for an Online Branch is fit for an audience. Not a random audience but members of the union who are unable to attend a monthly geographically tied branch meeting.

Branch meetings are the place where the collective democracy of the union takes place outside of the formally elected council and committees.

The online branch was conceived from the recognition that the transitory members often working away from home on tour and some finding themselves residing overseas for periods of time.

It’s was also expected to provide an online sanctuary bringing members together. In the early days it was hoped that would be away from the mainstream social media of public exposure.
Proposed, debated and adopted by a vote at several Annual Representatives Conferences. It even had substantial investment but Equity seemed unable to reach the finishing line when it came to get the developer to produce a working version. It also suffered the fate of mainstream social media, that of trolls and misanthropes, personal agendas and failures to hold suppliers to account. But…

During the pandemic and following a change at the top along with a cascade of staff changes the Online Branch found it’s ledge on the rocky cliff. Stable but precarious.

We are to hold the first annual general meeting. For the online Branch, a digital summit.
I have become the torch-bearer. As I began this post, audience development is hard. The audience here is union members but the cuffs applies was to limit that to only members nit affiliated to a physical branch. I pushed against the challenge. It’s been hard. The goal is to establish an engaged membership sufficiently invested to retain and sustain a committee of Nine. The branch committee election is to be rerun over the summer. Until the time a branch chair can be elected I am keeping the flame alight.

Greetings! Are you an Equity Member. Did you tour prior to the pandemic. Have you every supported and attended a regional branch meeting? Tuesday is the first Online Branch digital summit. It's a review of activities of the last 12 months and a chance to look to the future. There will be a screen shared tour of the forum, a warm welcome for the union's president and a special event wouldn't be complete without a guest speaker and Darren Darnborough has accepted my invitation to speak.

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Actor / Filmmaker / Travel Writer and CoFounder & CEO of WeAudition. I encountered Darren while researching a self-tape workshop in 2018 and attended a WeAudition Networking event hosted in London. Darren’s story of creating the SelfTelp committee WeAudition, the casting opportunities he created for himself and perhaps some tales of partying on yachts at the Film Festival in Cannes are anticipated! As a British, LA-based actor he is the perfect example of the Online Branch’s networking potential to help members find work opportunities and meet fellow members for who the Online provides a democratic voice within the industry where they have no physical branch to take advantage of.

There is a registration link if you haven't signed up. I do hope you are able to attend. Message me for the link.

The Online Branch is for members not able to attend a physical branch. There are lots of reasons but not being in the UK and not being available at 7.30 UK time to attend a geographic-specific gathering are the major factors to why the Online Branch exists.

This 7.30 online meeting for an AGM or for us this Digital Summit is likely to be the once a year occurrence. For the rest of the year, it's the online forum and informal meetups.

The first task for the branch is to form a committee. Audience development skills at the ready.
Thank you Audiences Europe. I sometimes wish I was less tenacious.


The day to vote is the day to stand.

9.00 am I walked down the street, turned left at the corner and in just a few minutes I’d arrived at Long Eaton town hall, votes and was heading home.

It was a duty but felt empty and unimportant. What would give it meaning? 
Today I submitted my nomination to stand as a candidate for the Equity committee elections. Standing for the Stage Management Committee.

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My 2021 candidate statement.

“Stagemanagement in 2020 went 100% digital. It’s been digital to varying degrees ranging across an array of tasks and duties since social media emerged from Web2.0 victorious in the mid-noughties. I’ve been a Stagemanager since the late ’90s (digital since 2007) and stepping out from the pandemic digital stage-managing once again kicking and streaming! I’ve been an Equity member since 1995, I’m chair of the Online Branch. I’ve served on the SM committee several times. I’ve worked the fringe, toured on ITC contracts, resided seasons on UK Theatre agreements and currently I’m a freelancer using equity terms experience to guide me. My career has taken me from Butlins to Billingham from Reykjavik to Rome. The industry needs SM’s, we need solid, suitable contracts and expertise at the table to look after all our interests in the modern Physical, Digital and Virtual blended worlds. Vote me onto the committee.”

Are you an EquityUK member?
Elections take place with online voting that closes early July.


More talent from around me - Wonderful wordsmith Terry Victor

Mindfulness in March - Seeing Red was a blog post back in March featuring fellow Equity member Caron Reidy

Terry is the welshest non-native Welshman living in wales I have ever met. An energy presence at Equity Annual Representative Conferences and a long-standing advocate and active member of the Equity Online Branch.

Another talent I have never seen perform. I do know he has a regular podcast and features regularly on Radio.

Time to listen to the inimitable Word Wrangling Terry Victor

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Word Wrangling is a series of slightly skew-whiff looks at the English and the way we skewer it. This episode is formed around an attempt to see how many adjectives can be loaded on the back of a single noun.

Informative and silly. I don't know about you but all this social distancing is getting at me.

Slang lexicographer and language commentator Terry Victor is happiest on the liberal left-wing of language usage. Here are his short, sharp and sideways looks at the ways we mess with the English language. It's our language, we can do what we like with it.

Occasionally provocative, sometimes grumpy and generally mischievous: that's Word Wrangling.

I enjoyed listened to… 

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Performance for All - one point at a time. Lunchtime Livestream S4 | E1

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The first guests of the series joined me today. UtopiaArts’ Frances Rifkin and Graham Lucas talked 

Fringe, Forum, Small-Scale, Independent Theatre was the focus. Finding a focus on which to discuss Equity’s Performance for All Policy has taken focus in itself.

It’s full of context. It’s extensively referenced. It’s a little booklet with mighty ambitions. It’s scope is incomprehensibly transformative.

One section resonated most as I dissected and reflected on my corner of the industry called Show Business. A section relevant to every other section.

Section 7 on page 20 of the Performance for All booklet - http://bit.ly/equity-fp19

Democratising Funding and Decision Making
All 10 sections of the policy are split in two parts. First a collection of data (stats, quotes and statements) and the second a series of policies Equity want to realise to... in the words of the current political climate... ‘Build Back Better’.

Policies ideals are cited “Autonomous, equitable and accountable funding and creative leadership.” The Performance for All policy asks for an expanded, fairly-balanced, socially responsive, democratic cultural provision with out reductions to funding in the capital. Its talks of rebalancing through an increased arts allocation.

It goes on to reinforce the independent sector... “often innovative and community oriented should be further developed and seen for what it is - An established and key part of cultural provision and source of employment.

The entire gamut from community to commercial. Inner London to the Outer Hebrides.
How that might be approached references a 2016 report

“Contributing to the national cultural policy debate”

http://www.gpsculture.co.uk/next-steps.php

Today’s livestream looked in brief at one element of the policy. It covers film, theatre, tv, Variety and games.

It was conceived before Covid in a pre pandemic digital resistance.

What is next?

Check out the livestream episode

Annotated...

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Meetup vs Meeting - EquityOLB

Tonight was a meet up for EquityUK’s Online Branch. A meet up or a meeting?

They are different and importantly so. Equity is the trade union for performers and creative production professionals. Thanks very simplistic but sufficient for the purposes of this post. The branch network gives members real time physical opportunities to meet, exchange experiences and receive updates. These branches are spread across the UK. But what if you don’t reside within sensible traveling distance of a branch’s meeting location? Any member can attend any branch, in theory. The Online Branch was conceived to provide a branch for members for who for what ever reason the physical branches aren’t accessible to them. For some it’s work, others it’s destination even timezone if overseas and others it’s care responsibilities or a variety of challenges making physical attended impractical. Enter stage left the Online Branch. 

With this in mind for the Online Branch it could not just be a replication of a physical branch. 

So Meet Up vs Meeting? Meetings have official structure, they are led by an agenda. Meetings are united and with a determined number of people decisions can be made collectively through motions, debates, conclude with a vote and progressed for action or developed by the branch. That’s the official bit. Some argue that’s the boring bit. 

A meet up is a social affair. Like minded colleagues coming together. For the online branch a technology solution to enable the official bit forms the foundation of the Online Branch. It’s ideology and it’s goal is to place the democratic lever to afford change within the reach of all members of the union and not only when they can go to a Meeting.

A branch is its members and the activity must be determined and led by the members. The online branch has a committee of nine who have held together the ideals since the branch received its official sanction from Council in 2016. 

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Here in 2021 members are coming together using video meeting platform Zoom from Scotland, Wales, East Midlands, Sussex, New York, Berlin and Los Angeles. 

In the intervening years various technology solutions have be developed, discarded, discovered and explored. The most recent milestone was not a technological one but a human one. Equity assigned union organiser Dominic Bascombe to support us.

A technology discovery report was commissioned just prior to the pandemic last March so world events have surpassed us in regards to securing union funds to evolve the technology we would ideally have built. But I’m a firm believer that people follow people not platforms. The platforms augment and assist.
Reaching the people, engaging the Online Branch members is the task at hand while we acquire the technology to uncouple the physical from the temporal we must meet.

The meet ups scheduled are commitments from the branch chair to open a door. The meetings will be scheduled in accordance with the members of the branch. That’s where they get hand in that democratic lever.
Tonight the desire to hold Meetings was requested. An interest in understanding the union’s structure and their (those attending the meet up) role and purpose within it was revealed. That was music to my ears. 

One member located in the US had questions about work and visa logistics across UK and EU following a recent film contract opportunity. 

A very heartening Meet Up. I will report all the raised points and suggestions to the committee and our organiser.

The branch is open for business. Now we have to desire what that business is.


Equity's 2019 Committee Elections Campaigning in Full Swing.

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I can not express to you how important this is to me. I vote in my local council elections I vote in the General elections. The impact Equity Elections has on me is far more immediate. This year the Committee's are being elected. Next year, in 2020 the biennial cycle of Equity's democracy comes full circle with the election of the Council. 

Continue reading "Equity's 2019 Committee Elections Campaigning in Full Swing." »


Favourite Things

Favourite-things

Online community, digital curating. YouTube subscription, Instagram Stories. Blogging and giveaways, Facebook page groups... these are few of my favourite thing!

I love digital. Mobile computing is just... I think my younger self would approve. I like augmented analogue just as much. Being able to fuse the modern and the traditional tends to bring a greater sense of satisfaction from the resulting manifestation be it event, artwork or life lesson.

and yes Brown paper packages tied up with string... these are a few of my favourite things.

Last month I ran a giveaway in the Equity Online Branch with 10 Equity branded torches. Entering to win one was simple. Visit the Online Branch Chat Room, locate the Torch Giveaway chat thread and add your name to the comments. To some, it may seem trivial but in the absence of a marketing or development budget (all Equity branches are run my member committees and not financed by EquityHQ) building the Online Branch through small acts of curiosity is the epic battle of engagement at zero cost. Why? Believe me, I often ask myself that very question. The Union that provided a foundation for contractual stability in many of the jobs I have undertaken over the years, I want to give back.

I also want to keep moving forward. New horizons are opening up where the old traditions start to encompass the new media while new continues to innovate and find ways to demand our creativity before the mainstream catches up and negotiates contractual situations and conditions.

Equity's online branch is an exercise in monitoring digital adoptions. Who can, who can't, who will and who won't. The organisation is the attraction and the communication platforms and engagement option have to accommodate the members. The most effective and cost effective don't always align. Multichannel, multi media, most accessible are different in many cases. Building a holistic community from a multitude of networks is an evolving process requirement cross platform teams with a central hub. In theatre, this is the production office serviced predominantly my stagemanagement.

In theatre, this is the production office serviced predominantly my stagemanagement.

Who is your stagemanager?

Are you familiar with the role of stagemanagement?

What is the equivalent department that looks after cross departmental communication, resource acquisition and distribution?

When this is a topic for another post.

 


Another Equity Online Branch GiveAway - entries close 14th July

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The last giveaway back in February was, I hope you'll agree, a bit of fun and certainly brought new members into the branch. It also reminded me that the branch has international members too who are a long way from home.

Here's the Chat Room Thread from the first giveaway if you're inter...

This time it's for TEN Equity torches. These branded torches were taken to Glastonbury to and handed out to members performing who visited the Equity 'tent'. I managed to get TEN so here we are with another giveaway. Same as before visit the Online Branch Chat Room thread set up for the giveaway and add your name in the comments.

It's as simple as that.

Continue reading "Another Equity Online Branch GiveAway - entries close 14th July" »