by Cecelia Gray, Administrative Assistant, AFM Electronic Media Services Division
When people ask me about my job I struggle to tell them precisely what my work means to me and what it is I do. I’m a horribly irreverent person, so I say something like, “I work in an office environment where we can spend 10 minutes one-upping each other with puns and it is not an atypical moment for anyone.”
And though that’s something I love about my job, that’s not the root of it. Yes, I love that everyone indulges me with my highly decorated desk, I love talking about music all day, and I love the little peeks I get into the broad and deep history of this place. This job for me, though, is something larger.
I’m the child of a singer-songwriter, a woman who is one of the best music educators I’ve ever seen, and who understands the impact that a good arts education can have on a kid. She fought for years to get proper equipment and funding to build a music program to be proud of in my hometown. I grew up surrounded by a small community of artists of one kind or another, all of whom, including my mother, still struggle with the unfortunate undervaluing of art. I have watched my friends barely scrape by, while they pour their souls out on stage for tips. I’ve fallen behind on rent because it turns out that short films couldn’t pay after all. Do it for the exposure, just try not to die of exposure in the process.
I suppose it’s fitting that, with all of that personal history, I would end up in a place where I can try to do something about it professionally.
I am a little cog in a big machine, but I like what this machine does and I like what I do in it. I help to process paperwork that ensures music is being produced under union conditions. I answer questions about wages and pension for employers and members. I keep detailed records of projects where the union could potentially find its members involved and in need of support. When I can, I find previously unreleased material and money for session musicians who rely upon that money. I am here to support and give voice to those whose work is being used without their permission. As an artist, this gives my job meaning. I am not just pushing paper; I am making sure artists are treated with the respect they deserve.
I was only recently hired full-time, and even though this job fits perfectly into my interests, I was just a temp who accidentally stumbled into it. Now, I’m in this weird family that laughs too loud about dumb puns and I don’t think I’ll be leaving anytime soon. I hope I get the chance to speak for more of you, more often, and I hope that you all will find in me an ally for many years to come.