Brian Myers Cooper
Trusted leadership + Radical thinking
Dear Friends and Fellow Equity Members,
Thank you all for your support throughout this historic election cycle. We had a ballot bursting with 97 candidates running for 47 seats––not counting candidates running unopposed––representing more than half of our governing body. Elections are an opportunity for new voices and perspectives, as well as a referendum on the priorities of the established leadership, and of course, the path of the Association itself. With so many seats in play, the opportunity and stakes have never been greater.
This election was all of the above, but the clear theme underscoring this election was FairWage Onstage and Fair Wage On Council. Whether because of FWOS’ enormous success in the 2016 Off Broadway negotiations, or because of FWOC’s emergence last year as elected leaders, the result of the first truly effective campaign as an organized slate, the tenor and substance of this election has been largely the result of people’s reactions to FWOS/FWOC. The emergence of other slates was a clear reaction to what FWOC did last year. The strategies and messaging of those slates were a reflection of FWOC’s approach. And people’s feelings about FWOS and FWOC was clearly evident in their individual and collective rhetoric.
I am extraordinarily proud to have been a FWOC candidate this year. We were committed to presenting relentlessly positive, substantive, issue-based messaging, both collectively and individually. We consistently received feedback thanking us for so clearly and positively articulating our shared values, goals, and ideas.
The seven FWOC councilors elected last year have worked tirelessly to advance those initiatives, and I am proud that twelve fellow FWOC2018 candidates will be joining them in that work on Council. Optimism, hopefulness, and collaboration have proved powerfully resonant themes over the past weeks, and I am excited for the policies that will emerge from such a positive approach in Council.
Thank you for spending the time to get to know the 97 brave individuals who offered their service to you.
Thank you for being an integral part of this landmark election.
Thank you for voting.
This year, I am proud to stand beside some of the smartest, most passionate, and experienced trade unionists I’ve ever seen.
It is due to their courage and perseverance that allowed me and my team to win the most significant contract gains ever in our history.
Stand with us as we continue to fight for fair wages
on every stage!
…I marched into uncharted territory armed with a comprehensive strategy to overhaul our flagship Eastern regional contract. From the beginning, I set out to 1) separate commercial and NFP pay structures; 2) create a NFP pay scale based on an institution’s ability to pay instead of seating capacity; 3) and most importantly, move salaries 30 years into the future to finally give Off-Broadway stage managers and actors a LIVING wage.
Unsurprisingly, we were met with vehement resistance from the Off-Broadway League. Undaunted, I began a long game strategy I knew would take us to the contract expiration and beyond. I leveraged a brave group of committed Off-Broadway actors to apply pressure and build public awareness, controlling the narrative of the negotiations from the beginning. As the contract expiration neared, I sought–in caucus as a team, and privately one-on-one–to find deep consensus around our objectives, and to build a united front that hammered home our message to the League that we were dead serious about our ambitious proposals. As proof, we didn’t move off of our initial top salary numbers from June until well into November, a delicate dance that challenged everything we collectively knew about negotiations.
The challenge of negotiating appropriately with such a wide array of theatres––commercial, not-for-profit, and a spectrum of operating budgets ranging from $500k to $41M––meant we needed a nuanced approach, looking at each theatre’s artistic needs, economic pressures, and financial structure. What looked to some on the outside as a hard hitting ultimatum negotiation was at its core quite a responsive and collaborative effort to appropriately restructure an agreement which had long outlived the market it was created for. Taking into account the modern market realities in the Off-Broadway arena, we were able to move the needle significantly for the largest and most stable institutions, while remaining sensitive to the needs and vulnerabilities of small and mid-sized institutions, and continuing to nurture the problematic and challenged commercial Off-Broadway world. As a result, Off-Broadway is thriving on a much healthier agreement.
I led that team, staff, Tom, Mary, and the League into the unknown with a vision of what that contract could and should be. With every obstacle, I looked for the opportunity to strengthen and advance our position. Where the League sought to divide us, I listened to every team member to make sure we were united in every step we took. Surrounded by a team of smart, dedicated, and brave members and staff who stood by me, guided me, and trusted me–and to whom I will be forever grateful–we succeeded in completely restructuring the Off-Broadway market. It is a legacy we are all enormously proud of that continues to reverberate throughout our Association and the theatre industry.
This is the kind of vision and leadership I will bring to the Council. With 17 years of service, including twelve on Council and eight as a Pension & Health trustee, I bring a long history of advocacy and leadership on a wide range of issues, from nurturing small theatres into strong employers and marketplace partners, to strengthening our health and pension funds for generations to come. I see both the big picture and the niggling details, with an ability to prioritize the latter in service to the former.
The Actor Revolution
“Make no mistake–they are here because of you and me, not the other way around. They make our jobs easier. We make their jobs possible.”
to see more of how
I’ve been serving you
for over 17 years
Contracts worked: Production, LORT, Off-Broadway, LOA-COST, Guest Artist, Guest Appearance, Dinner Theatre, Mini. Codes: Showcase (seasonal and NYMTF), 29-hour Reading
Equity Service Experience:
Council/ERB: 12 years: 5 years as Chorus councilor; 7 years as Principal councilor
Councilor Only Committees: Executive Director Review (2016), President’s Planning Committee, House Affairs
Negotiation Teams: Off-Broadway (2002, 2006, 2009-Chair, 2012-Chair, 2016-Leader, Strategist, and co-Chair), ANTC (2002–contract origin, 2005, 2016-Chair)
Committees: Online Signup Working Group, Election Procedures (Chair, 2009-2016), Off-Broadway (1st Vice Chair, 2009-2016), Media & New Tech (1st Vice Chair, 2008-2016), Production, ACCA (Vice Chair 2008-2011), EPA, Equal Employment Opportunity, Nominating Committee (2002-member, 2009 & 2012-Chair); Joint Officers Nominating Committee (2009 & 2012-Chair)
Equity Staff Pension Fund (Trustee, 2011-Present)
** Equity-League Pension & Health Funds: Trustee (2010-Present) – Committees: Investments, Benefits, Pension Approval Sub-committee
Ongoing Investment Committee education: Wharton School Executive Education – Portfolio Concepts and Management (2014); Alternative Investment Strategies (2015); and International & Emerging Market Investing (2016)
The voice of reason,
not afraid of speaking
equally at home
or fighting tooth & nail
for your interests!