Now is the right time to become an American Federation of Musicians member. From ragtime to rap, from the early phonograph to today's digital recordings, the AFM has been there for its members. And now there are more benefits available to AFM members than ever before, including a multi-million dollar pension fund, excellent contract protection, instrument and travelers insurance, work referral programs and access to licensed booking agents to keep you working.
As an AFM member, you are part of a membership of more than 80,000 musicians. Experience has proven that collective activity on behalf of individuals with similar interests is the most effective way to achieve a goal. The AFM can negotiate agreements and administer contracts, procure valuable benefits and achieve legislative goals. A single musician has no such power.
The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.
Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit www.afm.org/join.
June 1, 2022Lovie Smith-Wright - AFM Diversity Committee Chair and Member of Local 65-699 (Houston, TX)
Before I share with you what the AFM Diversity Committee has been up to, I would like to thank AFM President Ray Hair for appointing three incredibly resourceful people to serve on the AFM Diversity Committee: Local 618 (Albuquerque, NM) President Tracey Whitney, Local 7 (Orange County, CA) President Edmund Velasco, and Local 571 (Halifax, NS) Secretary-Treasurer Varun Vyas. We now have representation from both the US and Canada, a goal we have been wanting to achieve for some time.
The Diversity Committee has been hard at work discussing ways to help the AFM move forward with inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) initiatives. In February, the Diversity Committee met with Dan Beck, Samantha Ramos, and Vidrey Blackburn from the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF). We had a wonderful, invigorating discussion on various possibilities to help promote diversity, equity, and inclusion via MPTF for our members. Out of that brainstorming session, the idea to provide funding for Juneteenth celebrations was born. Since Juneteenth is now a federal holiday, MPTF Trustee Beck figured out a way to provide 100% funding for musicians to perform at Juneteenth celebrations across the country.
Juneteenth commemorates Union Army General Gordon Granger’s proclamation issued on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, which ordered the freedom of more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in the state of Texas. Texas House Bill 1016 passed in the 66th Legislature Regular Session declared June 19, Emancipation Day, a legal state holiday starting in 1980. Since that time, Juneteenth has been celebrated in predominantly African American and other communities across Texas and several southern states, with parades, picnics, dances, and festivals.
Since Galveston is in the jurisdiction of Local 65-699 (Houston, TX), the local will be providing three bands to perform at the first Juneteenth federal holiday celebration on Monday, June 20. The celebration is sponsored by the Nia Cultural Center and the Juneteenth Legacy Project in Galveston, Texas. When I reached out to the sponsors of the celebration, they were delighted to know that the AFM, via MPTF, would be able to provide live music for the event, at no cost to them.
The Diversity Committee is excited that MPTF is providing resources for live music to be performed for this new federal holiday. It is our hope that other AFM locals will partner with local community groups to provide live music for Juneteenth celebrations across the country.
In addition to our discussions with MPTF, the Diversity Committee has been in discussion with the AFM Organizing & Education Division about incorporating some type of IDEA training for the AFM officer education programs that are presented before regional conferences. We look forward to the time when IDEA will become a part of training for all local officers.
The Diversity Committee is pressing forward on what we can do to bring the AFM diversity committees from the locals together on a regular basis. Members of the Diversity Committee will be reaching out to all AFM locals to help us determine how we can better serve the AFM and make IDEA a reality for the AFM.