An Actress's Thoughts

Acting Union BFFS: Board Elections of the Sadder Type

If you follow this blog you may be a bit familiar with the goings-on at the BFFS, the German Acting Union, on an organizational level, and also in relation to several topics and the economically trying situation of the majority of actresses and actors, as I‘ve written about it several times in this blog:

Filmmakers‘ Unions and Gender: ACTING. Part 3 / 3
Superheroine Against Violence – #metoo
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Today marks the start of the election for the new board. For the first time this is done via an online vote, but for whatever reason over a period of 11 days. Alternately members can vote via normal paper mail. So why the 11 days? But that‘s not the only aspect which is a bit problematic. It has been decided – through a change of the statutes at a general assembly which was attended by only about 30 of the around 3,000 members of the union – to hold the vote as a block election, or a team election as the current board likes to call it. Teams of seven can put themselves forward as candidate teams, if they are put together in a fashion that regards the four different membership groups of the union: stage, film, television and speech (dubbing etc.). A mix is a good thing, obviously also a gender mix (which the teams are to aim at) and possibly also a mix of old and new candidates. However, there is only one team that the actresses and actors can vote for (with yes and no, and maybe abstention). Does this come as a surprise? Not really. Because even if there are individual members that want to be candidates, and who have worked in the union, maybe at a regional level, for years, it is really not possible for them to find 6 others, and why should they? At the same time, who would vote for 7 complete newcomers to the board? It would have made much more sense to have individual votes and let the members decide on the make-up of the new board. Instead, it were the „old guys“, men who have been on the board practically since the union started, who picked and chose the new additions to their team.
Today the voting starts, and today an open letter by 21 members was published criticizing the procedures, and announcing that they (or rather we, I also signed the letter) will vote with no, because a vote without choice is not a proper election, because the one team has not really announced any sort of political agenda for the term of four years, and because it is strange that the online election is done over 11 days, why is this?
You find the original open letter (in German) in the upper half of today‘s text. I haven‘t had the time to translate it yet but hope that I brought across the general intention.
Today I heard from some British actress colleagues that they are still waiting for the introduction of an online vote – Equity UK does the voting via letters – as they think that might increase the percentage of participants. But they wouldn‘t do it over 11 days and of course they don‘t have block elections, at Equity you vote the representatives and councillors (and as far as I know also the members of the committees, am I right there?) from a long list of candidates.
Here‘s hoping that we in German will come to that as well at the next BFFS election – which will hopefully be held in spring 2019 – after the momentary election has been anulled.

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