Bristol & West General Branch announces changes to branch committee for 2020/21

The Bristol & West General Branch of Equity would like to announce the following changes to our branch committee.

The following members, who were elected to the committee in January 2020 will continue in their roles; Janet Adams, Gerard Cooke, Ella Cumber, Ian Harris, Kim Hicks and Duncan Taylor.

Lynda Rooke was elected onto Equity Council as our South West Area Councillor, and was elected as Equity Vice President in August 2020. Lynda stepped down from the branch committee in order to give greater focus to these new roles.

We are delighted to have recently co-opted two new members onto the committee; Saikat Ahamed and Karen Payne.

We have capacity for nine members on our committee (and currently only eight seats are taken), so if you have time and insight to offer the branch, please let us know. In light of our recent Black Lives Matter statement we would particularly encourage those from underrepresented groups to get in touch.

As a committee, our priorities before the next branch elections in January 2021 include:

  • Equalities
  • Mental Health – following on from our ArtsMinds Symposium last year
  • Training
  • Student engagement
  • Cast It Here - the campaign of regional casting
  • Outdoor arts festival - lobbying local cultural leaders to plan for a socially distanced outdoor arts festival in the summer of 2021

In the article below the committee members introduce themselves, their background and interests, and their priorities for the year ahead.

Gerard Cooke - Secretary
I'm a Bristol-based (and Bristol-raised) professional actor. I was a founding member of the branch committee in 2007, and have served in some capacity in most of the years since then. Currently branch secretary, I organise branch meet ups, liaise with guest speakers, and manage all of the branch's social media. I endeavour to be proactive with all of our branches campaigns and agendas, including Cast It Here, equalities, mental health (ArtsMinds), as well as engaging with as many local artists and organisations as possible.

Kim Hicks – Chair and Players Company organiser
I am 7th generation theatrical, Bristol born and bred and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School trained, with nearly 40 years as a professional actor and Equity member. I make my living through: Theatre (including 5 one-woman shows) Audiobooks and radio work, Role-Play and International sports announcing!
Wanting to encourage performers to play together, sharing skills between jobs, I approached my Equity branch to gauge interest and was co-opted onto the local committee. It has been an entirely positive experience! Players Company was launched with fellow committee member Janet Adams providing the technological framework.

I see Cast-it-Here and Performance for All as incredibly worthwhile Equity campaigns and believe our union is not just a support system but an essential way for performers to have some real influence over their own lives in our precarious but exciting and creative profession.

Ian Harris - Vice Chair
I’m a Bristol-based professional actor and theatre maker. Live theatre is my passion, but over the past 25 years, I’ve worked in just about every sector of the business. I’m the Vice-Chair of the branch, and have become more involved with Equity in recent years trying to uphold our self-employment status. I’m really keen to promote greater equality of access to work, support excellent Equity campaigns such as Cast-it-Here and Performance for All, and help the union to continue to modernise through improved communication and training. I also want to help to get local and national Government to recognise more fully the vital role the Arts play in people’s lives, and the ever increasing importance of creative skills and the Creative Industries for the future of the UK economy.

Janet Adams - Treasurer
I am a native Bristolian and still live in Bristol. I have been involved in theatre most of my life; professionally for the last 7 years. I work mainly in Role Play, Murder Mystery Events and as a Supporting Artist. I also direct and produce on occasions!
I am branch treasurer and also assist Kim with the admin for Players Company. I am particularly interested in supporting campaigns like Cast It Here and also those championing equality.

Duncan Taylor - Assistant Secretary and Mental Health

Ella Cumber - Equalities and Workshops / Training

Karen Payne
I am a Wiltshire based professional actor. I joined Equity as a student and as a recent graduate am pleased to now be a co-opted member of the committee. My background is in local theatre in Bristol and Bath, but I hope through my involvement on the committee can raise the profile of the Creative Arts in Wiltshire. I will also be supporting the committee’s campaigns on Mental Health and Cast It Here

Saikat Ahamed
Saikat is a Bristol based actor and writer working across pretty much all part of the industry. He has worked substantially in Bristol both at The Tobacco Factory Theatres and Bristol Old Vic as well regularly filming for both television and films. Although he has been a member of Equity for nearly all of his professional career, this is his first time on a branch committee. He is hoping to learn lots and work out how he can best serve his union. He is particularly passionate about intellectual property rights around devised work as well decentralising the London-centric industry.