Incorporating the Variety Artistes' Federation
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Essex General Branch

The Essex General Branch has been established for 12 years and was set up by members to support Equity members living in Essex. We have always aimed to be inclusive and embrace all types of entertainer. Punch and Judy Professors, Puppeteers, Story tellers, Actors, Dancers, Directors, Vocalists, Opera singers, Music Theatre performers, Radio presenters and Variety artists of all kinds are part of our wide ranging membership. Although most of our members attending our meetings to date have tended to be performers, we actually welcome any Equity member whatever your creative profession and feel that your input and presence is equally as important and of value.

We have a small, approachable, caring, and friendly committee who are themselves like our non-committee members a motley bunch of artistes/creative professionals and semi-professionals. We meet regularly in addition to attending/running the branch meetings, and also arrange networking, social events, workshops and more for our members, attend and report back on various meetings and conferences etc. If you have time and an interest in joining the committee, get in touch!

One of the main things our secretary and chair does is disseminate information of particular relevance and importance from Head Office and received from other sources, including about campaigns, report, concerns and successes etc. This is done mostly at our branch meetings but also through our newsletters. You will also find some information on these pages on the main Equity website. More recently we have added Facebook and some tweeting to our communications and welcome our members using them.

In 2015 we have been holding Branch meetings bi-monthly on Monday evenings at Trinity Methodist Church, Rainsford Road, Chelmsford, usually followed by a visit to the nearby County hotel. In 2014 the meetings moved around Essex to give a wider range of members the opportunity to attend. We also held a joint meeting with Herts branch. In 2016, we will return to Saturday mornings but still in our County City of Chelmsford. See Events

Additionally we regularly arrange workshops, specialised courses and interesting speakers, including Equity's own President Malcolm Sinclair and General Secretary Christine Payne, talks on Shakespeare, Historic costumes and more. Our most recent workshop was Pantomime Skills. We are in the process of booking a casting director for 2016.

We arrange at least two social get-togethers a year- a Christmas nosh with D.I.Y. entertainment, and in the summer we have also enjoyed Garden Parties with members 'doing a turn', River Boat trips, meals out and Theatre visits, ROH Thurrock tour to name just a few.

2013 saw a successful outreach programme to the community and local members with a Showcase - Selection Box at the Fold Billericay. This included afternoon programmes for younger audiences and and evening of variety all provided by member of Essex General Branch. Press and local radio gave good coverage here. More recently we have been looking at ways to increase our membership, including younger members and to support Equity's campaigns.

For dates and details about up and coming events and meetings please click on News and Events.

The Branch has presented 3 Motions to conference: including on Branch structure for the future, presented at the 2011 ARC Conference. A further Motion was presented by Chair - Dee Mardi and Vice Chair Brian Eastty at the May, 2015 ARC. This was carried with amendments [See newsletter]We were able to send 2 Representatives plus an observer again in 2013, 2104  and 2015 to the ARC who the gave full reports to the branch on the motions and notably happenings.

Our aim is to be always helpful, friendly, inclusive and professional in all that we do.

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Equity has a vital network of branches throughout the UK which give members a voice in the union and much more. Branches hold regular meetings in their local area and all members and student members are invited to attend these to share views and experiences, discuss issues that are of importance to them and put proposals to Equity's ruling body - the Equity Council. Branches also organise a programme of social events and raise money for local charities.

If you are an Equity member or student member based in the area you are able to join the branch (no charge) so please get in touch with Dee Mardi - the branch chair. If you are a member or student member visiting the area you are very welcome to drop into the next branch meeting and get to know some of your fellow members. 

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