In 2014, the AFM Office of Government Relations helped double the AFM TEMPO bottom line. Measures such as a new TEMPO compliance manual for locals and a TEMPO Signature Program yielded added income. Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) raised the most money in TEMPO contributions, and has the highest number of Signature members.
“The membership of Local 161-710 boasts so much intellect and activism, I believe the biggest source of success is the long-standing culture of advocacy and awareness here,” says Douglas Rosenthal who is Local 161-710 TEMPO Coordinator, as well as a member of the local’s executive board.
As TEMPO coordinator, he promotes TEMPO in his local and to fellow musicians at the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, where he plays trombone. However, he says, “I’m not sure these things had much to do with our turnout. The members here are already so committed.”
AFM members that he’s come into contact with conclude that TEMPO is the best PAC to advocate on behalf of musicians. “The TEMPO program provides the opportunity for our elected representatives to hear directly from AFM musicians on issues important to them,” says Local 161-710 President Edgardo Malaga. “It certainly is a goal of our local’s administration to provide increased visibility for AFM issues on Capitol Hill. The support here for that effort is very broad-based, not only with orchestra musicians, but also club musicians in the area.”
It doesn’t seem surprising that the local closest to the nation’s capital would be the most politically active, however, Rosenthal believes that the local’s commitment to TEMPO is more a result of the musicians themselves. “Politics are certainly in the air here, but I’m not sure it’s our proximity to the Federal government that gives us an edge; our membership is saturated with brilliant minds and effective advocates. Together, we would be equally successful anywhere else,” he says.
Key to a successful campaign, according to Rosenthal, is to not just ask for annual donations, but for TEMPO coordinators to create a culture of political advocacy in their locals. “Make TEMPO part of a broader picture of advocacy and activism,” he advises.
“Aside from TEMPO contributions, our local’s members are proud to lend a presence to AFM efforts on Capitol Hill for things such as performance rights, NEA funding, the African ivory elephant issue, and musical instruments as carry-on baggage,” says Malaga.