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Labor Day Message from AGMA President

Published September 6, 2020   |  By Musical Artists  |  Post in All Areas

The American Guild of Musical Artists is the labor union of the finest singers, dancers, and staging staff in opera, choral performance, and concert dance in the United States.

Like members of our sister unions, COVID-19 turned our lives upside down, leaving thousands of Artists unemployed. This has taken a devastating toll on AGMA artists, cutting fundamental economic lifelines for those of us who spend our lives in the performing arts. Nearly six months later, we continue to confront an unprecedented loss of work and earnings. We were the first to lose our jobs, and will likely be the last to return to work.

And yet, have we given up? No. Have we stopped singing, dancing and creating? No. We are AGMA. We carry on. Doing so isn’t just a job, it is a part of who we are, and we know that right now is when we are needed the most.

From the faces we have seen on streaming platforms and in digital shorts, to staging staff using sewing machines to make masks, to those performing daily online or in front of our neighbors, to the dancers and singers providing master classes, AGMA Artists continue to spread hope and remain advocates for our industries.

 A moment must be taken to acknowledge the courageous AGMA artists who are fierce advocates for social and racial justice. To those who joined in the protests; made signs, statements, and videos; participated in interviews and podcasts; used your platforms to declare Black Lives Matter, and have taken a stand against racial injustice in many other ways, you have helped illuminate racism within our industry and in our society. You will be the force to help eliminate it. There is a lot of work to be done, but our shared passion will effect real change.

Thanks go to those who advocated for the CARES Act and other critical legislation. We have an uphill battle as we continue to push for the HEROES Act and extending PUA.  Labor Day, in itself, is a call to action, a reminder of the work still ahead of us. If we stand together, we can continue to fight for every member of our union family. Many of you supported our very own AGMA Relief Fund when you yourselves were reeling from the impact of COVID-19.  Thank you for promoting the Fund in your live streams and other social media posts. You have greatly helped to amplify its mission and the Fund has received donations due to your efforts.

This Labor Day looks different, but we have not forgotten its meaning. AGMA is a union founded on hope, based on the premise that workers are stronger together. AGMA recognizes, especially today, that we are part of a legacy of unionism and activism, beneficiaries of the courage and perseverance of the leaders who came before us, and stewards for the Artists who will one day follow in our footsteps.

We are AGMA and we will endure.  Happy Labor Day to all.

Ray Menard

AGMA President