IATSE’s United Scenic Artists Has “Strikingly” Low Percentage Of People Of Color – Deadline

United Scenic Artists, IATSE Local 829, has released its first-ever demographic survey of its more than 5,000 members nationwide. According to the local, the survey revealed a “strikingly” small “inclusion of members who identify as part of the Black Community (1.9%), Asian Community (2.7%), Latin/X Community (3.6%), Indigenous Community (0.4%), and the Middle Eastern/North African Community (0.6%).”

Those figures, however, are based on the 44.7% of the local’s members who took part in the survey. As the survey notes, “Data presented here, notably percentages, was calculated against the entire union’s membership and includes all members who did not participate.” Slightly more women than men took part in the survey, though a source observed that it would appear that a majority of the local’s members are men.

With respect to sexual orientation, the survey found that 6.8% of members self-identified as “gay and lesbian,” 0.6% identified as “queer” and 2.3% as “bisexual.”

See the full report here.

“Our union is committed to building a collaborative community that welcomes all,” said Local USA 829 President Edward Pierce. “That work starts here at home through education, engagement, listening, and, of course, collective action. All of us in the entertainment industry should heed the call to do better for our artists, for our audiences, and on behalf of our colleagues and kin.”

Headquartered in New York City, Local 829 represents scenic artists; scenic, costume, lighting, sound and projection designers; computer artists; art and costume department coordinators; and scenic shop workers employed in live performance, film, TV and commercials throughout the country.

“It is the start of a new entertainment season and attention is being drawn not only to what stories are being told, but who is telling those stories,” said Sherrice Mojgani, a Local 829 member and Eastern Region trustee who co-led and facilitated the union’s census efforts. “At Local USA 829, we are storytellers, but this census data shows that our demographics do not reflect the makeup of the United States and our communities – the very source of our stories. We must work together, including employers, to build an industry that can fully support BIPOC workers, resulting in more diverse teams of storytellers and more dynamic stories. That works starts here in our union.”

Local 829 National Business Agent Carl Mulert said: “Our Local initiated our first ever demographic census to not only help the union better understand the landscape of our membership but having a complete picture of our union helps us advocate for every member at the bargaining table, in our conversations, and beyond our workplaces. Knowing the work we have ahead of us to invite and include all means that we have a chance to strategically collaborate with our partners to foster an entertainment industry that is equitable and considerate of all working in the industry.”

Added Porsche McGovern, a member of the local who serves as an Eastern Region trustee: “After surveying who designs in LORT (League of Resident Theatres) theaters by pronoun for several years, the release of the union’s demographic survey data gives new opportunities for research and action steps. Looking at this data with an intersectional lens will allow the union to address the impacts of oppression with an awareness of the complexity and nuance necessary for lasting change. For example, as care giving disproportionately affects women, does that manifest as fewer contracts or less well-paid contracts or both or something completely different? How can the entertainment industry and society overcome the biases around care work?”

The union said it is “committed to fostering an entertainment industry that embeds equity as a core tenet. Through union committees, negotiations, and education efforts, Local USA 829 is advancing this agenda, building mentorship and collaborative opportunities intended to shape and guide the communities that impact their colleagues and kin in entertainment.”

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