I joined Equity’s ranks as a student member (it’s really not that long ago but already it feels a million miles away) without knowing much about it except the old school views of its excellent reputation and the weight it adds to your CV as an actor. Not the best approach, perhaps, but no harm done. Now, two years on and a full member of Equity, I’m starting to take a more active interest. I’ve always enjoyed reading the bumph it’s sent me, I certainly made use of the jobs section, and I did fill in the odd petition online when there was a fairly large banner for me to click on. What a lazy member I have been! But now I mean to make amends. And to help me on my way I’ve been to my first Branch Meeting and Equity has launched a new website, fully revamped and very user-friendly. Hurrah!

So, off I trotted to my very first meeting with more than a little trepidation, not really knowing what to expect. I needn’t have worried. True, I did feel a little lacking in relevant knowledge, but that will come with time and it certainly didn’t exclude me. As you might expect, cuts were high on the agenda and it’s fantastic to see and hear at firsthand how proactive Equity is being in defying the cuts. It’s great to see that while it supports, guides and initiates a whole range of measures, it is also working with a number of other organisations to maximise its impact. To this end we heard from a guest speaker from Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance (BADACA). The debate that ensued raised concerns as well as support and really got me thinking about what my position is and all the considerations that must be taken into account. This is one of Equity’s strengths; it doesn’t take decisions lightly and members really do have a massive influence and say-so.

One of the other advantages of being more active in Equity (asides from fighting for your rights and paving the way to your future) is that you meet an awful lot of people with a wealth of experience and interests between them. It’s a great opportunity to network and not in a desperate self-deprecating way. Everyone there, no matter what stage of their career, is committed to bettering the industry, so conversation is abundant. What better way to meet the people you want to work with?

As well as supporting matters such as the above, Equity is also pushing for development wherever needed, both locally and nationally. The latest manifestation of this is bringing member networks closer together and circulating news, petitions etc more effectively, as well as providing better access to its resources. Enter the shiny new website: with a much tidier user-friendly layout, improved forum, jobs service and personal profile, plus downloads, resources and links, the new website packs a terrific punch. Getting in touch with exciting people, and finding the right work and the best support has never been so easy, and it’s all with the aim of bringing members closer together and boosting activity both politically and creatively.

For a first meeting I’d say that’s pretty darned good. While I know I still have a lot to discover I’m looking forward to it and find myself very much in the ‘can-do’ frame of mind which seems to underpin Equity’s activities.  Already I’m impatient for the next one so I can find out about all things exciting in the region and further afield. Hopefully see you there.