While we are still very much in the pandemic that has been the source of so many crises and pain, there are many things for which I am thankful.
I am thankful for artists. Our art brought us joy, comfort, and remnants of normalcy during the last 20 months, even if it was in the quiet privacy of our own homes or front porches or balconies and not inside the studio or on the stage. I am thankful for the solidarity and compassion within the AGMA community and the support we received from our fellow unions, from art advocates, and from our beloved opera and dance enthusiasts.
I am thankful for the technology that kept us connected and provided us with a creative outlet during the most disconnected, isolating times of our lives. I am thankful for modern science, safety protocols, and our ability to come together again.
I am thankful for all of the resources available to us as AGMA members, especially the AGMA Relief Fund, Union Plus, and The Actors Fund, which provided us with the relief and tools we needed to calm and center ourselves in this age of stress. I am especially thankful to the Trustees of and donors to the Relief Fund who assisted our members in a time of great need. Thank you to all of the AGMA members who have contributed their time and lent their names to these fundraising efforts, including Renée Fleming (December 2020) and Sara Mearns (December 2021). My personal gratitude is extended to all who may consider contributing this holiday season.
Crossing the stage as I left the theater in March of 2020, I was overcome with emotion when I saw the set of the show I was to perform that night dimly lit by the ghost light. I am thankful for the glow of the eternal ghost light within each of us that promised we'd return to work one day. I am thankful for the slow, steady, and safe reopening of the Performing Arts Industry, for the electricity flowing between audience and stage on our opening nights. I am thankful for the patrons who have returned to their seats inside of our theaters. I am thankful for the well wishes and the applause. I am thankful for these experiences that tell me that we have some of the best jobs in the world!
Last but certainly not least: I am thankful for all of you, for my fellow artists, for our union colleagues and to the staff at AGMA who helped each other, stood up for each other, and fought for each other every day. I am thankful that WE are AGMA!
-Ray Menard, AGMA President