June 25, 2008
On June 13, many of you joined us to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of our Guild. But the event also commemorated another event significant to New York; it wrapped up our 70th year. It is now 71 years ago that the doors first opened to the New York branch of Screen Actors Guild – almost to the date: June 21st, 1937. The first office was located at 11 West 42nd Street, a building which still stands today opposite Bryant Park. Over the last seven decades, our location has changed many times. In fact a walking tour exploring the history of the Guild in New York City would have you walking in circles.
Did you know that the very first membership meeting of the New York SAG Branch took place at 1515 Broadway, which 60 years later became the location of our Branch office? On December 13, 1937, approximately 250 New York SAG members met at the Hotel Astor. (The hotel, unfortunately, was demolished in the 1960s, but you can see what it looked like thanks to the photo below.) A main topic of concern that day was the need to establish an agency like Central Casting, since at the time it was necessary for members “to call personally at studios, ranging from Brooklyn to Astoria to the Bronx to New Jersey, and it does work a great hardship upon them.”
We’ve also completed a circle in arriving at 360 Madison Avenue on 45th Street. Back in the 1950s, the New York office was located in the historic Fred F. French Building at 551 5th Avenue, just down the block from our current location. It’s worth a visit, as The French Building is one of the most decorative buildings SAG New York has ever occupied. It was designed by the same developers who built Tudor City on the East River.
In the '70s, '80s and '90s, SAG New York had a home on the Great White Way, first at 1700 Broadway, opposite the historic Ed Sullivan Theatre, and later at 1515 Broadway, opposite Duffy Square. The famous statue of George M. Cohan kept careful watch over the latter location, and it is ironic that Cohan, who was notoriously anti-union, was immortalized on film by SAG president and lifetime union advocate James Cagney.
I am proud of the progress this union has made over the past 75 years and of the important role the New York Branch has played in that progress. But I am also happy that, by traveling in small circles, we always have stayed close to our roots.
It was a packed house at Bowlmor Lanes on April 27 at the First Annual Tribeca Cast Party. The event, co-sponsored by Screen Actors Guild, SAGindie, Back Stage and the Tribeca Film Festival, honored the actors and directors who appeared in the films shown at this year’s festival.
The event was a welcome addition to this year’s downtown tribute to film. “The event fit in with Tribeca because it gave Tribeca a unique chance to celebrate not only the filmmakers, but the actors whose films populated the festival,” noted National Director of SAGindie Outreach Darrien Michele Gipson. “Often, directors have many ways in which they are feted, but the actors in those films have very little specifically designed to herald their efforts. This was a perfect way to give credit where credit was most definitely due.”
Attendees enjoyed an evening of bowling, food, drinks and the opportunity to mingle with cast mates and colleagues in the independent film industry. New York SAGindie representative Michael Sladek appreciated the networking opportunity the event provided for SAG. “I think putting a face with a name is definitely helpful for SAGindie and SAG as a whole in the indie world, as it helps demystify the process of working with us and the union. A few of the filmmakers I met have already called me about their next films, so I do think it's a great outreach event.”
Gipson agreed. “We hope to continue this party, with Tribeca's blessing, for many years to come.”
For more information about SAG's low budget agreements visit SAGindie.org.
Something great for New York actors has just gotten better. Thanks to the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, New York Board members and and the New York staff, the New York Casting Access Project (NYCAP) is now holding additional seminars in the recently renovated 12th floor lobby space of Screen Actors Guild. This space is perfectly suited for the NYCAP evenings. NYCAP offers paid-up, eligible SAG members the opportunity to meet and learn from respected casting directors and to showcase their skills via free workshops.
“We are very pleased that the Casting Access Program has proved to be so successful in New York. The positive feedback from NY actors has confirmed the significance of these much-needed opportunities for SAG members to meet with respected working casting directors in a positive environment that has proved to be mutually rewarding,” said Marcia Smith, the SAG Foundation's executive director.
Founded in 1985, the Screen Actors Guild Foundation is an educational, humanitarian and philanthropic 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance the lives of actors by investing in programs that help them in their professional endeavors. The SAG Foundation is independent from SAG, but offers substantive services to Guild members. The foundation relies solely on support from grants, corporate sponsorships, bequests and individual contributions allowing members to give back to their communities.
Maureen Donnelly, foundation treasurer and SAG National Board member, emphasized the importance of NYCAP: “The Casting Access Program is a significant addition of meaningful Screen Actors Guild Foundation programming for the New York membership and the response of New York members has been terrific.”
Orientation for NYCAP now can be done both online and by mail. Mandatory orientation seminars are no longer necessary in order to attend the workshops. Events are posted at sagfoundation.org, and sign up is required.
NYCAP is made possible in partnership with the support of the Screen Actors Guild Producers Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund and the valuable contributions of the Casting Society of America. The program is under the direction of Franz Reynold.
For more information on this program, please send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Careers in Focus: South Asian Performers and Their Agents" was a one night only event, presented exclusively to Screen Actors Guild members by the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts. It was held in the Membership Lounge at the New York SAG offices on May 19. The room was filled to capacity, with more than 65 attendees on hand to hear from South Asian performers Yolande Bavan, Sanjit De Silva and Ajay Naidu, along with their agent, Rosanne Quezada of Paradigm. For three hours, Associate National Director of Affirmative Action/ Diversity Adam Moore moderated a candid and passionate panel discussion and Q&A session. The goal was to use the individual experiences and perspectives of the panelists—performers and agents at the top of their field—as an entry point to discussing larger issues, including the expectations and assumptions associated with South Asian performers.
Summary notes on the event will be posted at inclusioninthearts.org.
As a patron sponsor of the 2008 NEWFest Film Festival, held June 5-15 in New York City, the Screen Actors Guild National LGBT Actors Committee announced their presence in a big way. NewFest, the New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Film Festival, offered SAG members a 10 percent discount on new NewFest membership.
As part of the Filmmakers Forum, the LGBT Committee sponsored a panel on June 14. “Acting Out: Getting Noticed and Getting Jobs as Openly Gay Actors” targeted the filmmaking community as a panel of out actors and filmmakers discussed creative ways that queer actors, singers and comedians can get access to more diverse parts, overcome stereotyping and homophobia and attain greater success in the industry.
Following the standing room only panel discussion, the LGBT Committee hosted a happy hour that was attended by Guild members and LGBT performers and their allies.
For additional information, please visit newfest.org
Want a special way to commemorate 75 years of Screen Actors Guild?
Click here to visit thesagshop.com’s online store and get your 75th anniversary logo T-shirt and other great commemorative items before they sell out!
We are always looking to hear feedback from our membership. Please contact us with any questions or suggestions at email@example.com or (212) 944-1030.
You can also find lots of information at our newly updated SAG.org website.