My vision for BECTU

I want to thank all the members who voted and participated in BECTU’s elections, those that put their names forward for any of the positions and those that worked for them. Democracy – and members willing to give time and energy to the union – are what sustain and build BECTU.

It is a great privilege to be elected President, and one that I am very proud of. We are a union of some wild, wonderful and diverse members and I want to meet and attend as many divisional and other meetings as I can to hear your ideas for BECTU over my term.

It is funny how change seems to come in waves. Tony Lennon‘s last column [in Stage Screen and Radio] as President was written just before the elections and the future government was not known. There was a small hope for a Labour or Lib-Lab government. We know now the government but where, what and how the change in policies will hit our industries is only being played out. What is clear is that the cuts are coming and that it is through our union that we can fight them.

“It is time for a campaign to argue the importance and benefit of the arts.”

Tough times are not necessarily bad times but they are always made better by working collectively. This is the message we need to spread. One of our biggest danger is colleagues who figure our dues should cover their needs. For the union to be strong in negotiations and able to run campaigns we need members, especially active members. It is through our collective activities that we can have the greatest impact.

BECTU is your union. It is there to fight for you, if needed; to represent you in negotiations; to argue for fair and equable working conditions. BECTU needs your involvement, voting for your representatives, participating in internal debates on our policy on piracy, public debates on low pay/no pay ‘contracts’, arguing for the importance of community theatres, defending the BBC as the best and the brightest of public broadcasters (even in these overly challenging times).

BECTU is also where by becoming active

We work in the culture and media industries, whether as caterers, sound recordist, stage hands, archivists, runners or directors. We are involved in educating, entertaining, informing and inspiring the public. Some of us work on our own, most of us work as part of a team. Some teams last a day, some a month or six, some for years. The commitment and standards our members strive to always achieve make us some of the best in the world. And that skill and talent is recognised in all corners of the world. We need the government to understand that it is our skilled members who make possible the arts and media that envisions our nations and is exported to the world. Cuts of up to £23 million in just the Arts Councils funding in one year will have a major negative impact on all the areas.

I believe for all of our members the argument that the arts is a creative force that is critical to the nation, that puts us on the international stage and brings benefits financial and spiritual is one we understand well. But it is true that the seed monies, the investments of public spending is crucial.

It is time for a campaign to argue the importance and benefit of the arts. Whether it is to ensure that the BBC continues to make the quality dramas/radio programmes, etc it is famous for, or that our local theatres and arts centres provide for our communities or that films are made here, we need for politicians and voters to understand that the arts can provide growth and employment. Arts Council UK says “In 2009 the 52 major theatres in central London, representing a mix of subsidised and commercial theatres and productions, had their best year ever, worth £504 million in box office receipts.” If the theatres did well, chances are the hotels, restaurants and others also did well, and the economy got through some tough times with a little more ease and grace.

These are some of the arguments we can use to fight the cuts that are hurting us.

Categories: Arts, BECTU, Broadcasting, Film, Theatre

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Picture of Christine Bond