Eastern At-Large

leslie sears

Dalton, MA

COMMITTEES: 
Albany Liaison Committee, Developing Theater, Stage Managers, Deputy, Member Education, Entry to Equity, Elections Procedures, Equal Employment Opportunity, and formerly the Boston Liaison Committee. For my other union, I serve on the Board of Governors of AGMA as a representative for the Washington/Baltimore Area.

#FairWageOnCouncil

Almost daily, I hear from stage managers and actors who have been doing everything right but are still barely making ends meet. And now as they navigate unemployment and relief funds, waiting for theaters to reopen, many are considering if the risks are worth it.

The #Equity2020 campaign confirmed we need more from our union. 2020 is here, and those needs are even clearer. We need the union’s aggressive contract enforcement—we’ve seen it during the shutdown and it must continue when theaters reopen. We need health and safety requirements prioritizing ASMs and understudies. We need continued lobbying of lawmakers, demonstrating how vital theatres are to local economies, and responding to changes in tax law, an effort I was part of at Arts Advocacy Day in 2019.

The At-Large position was made for me. I’m deeply connected to Boston, the Berkshires, and DC. As part of the AGMA Board of Governors, I understand balancing local and national needs. I’m a listener and a compulsive contract reader. I want to hear about the life behind your contracts, no matter where you live. 

Our agreements should reflect our needs, and I proved that during NEAT negotiations in 2018. I used member stories to strengthen our contract, achieving a 28% overall wage increase, among other gains, which will be vital to our members when we go back to work. I am ready and eager to ensure solutions discussed in the Council room are appropriate and accessible to ALL of us.


Personal Statement

I’m from the rural part of San Diego!  My parents are still there.  I moved to Boston for college, got work right away and stayed until 2016 when I moved to the other side of the state.  Now I live in a small town in the Berkshires where I’m surrounded by theater in the summer and it’s very quiet the rest of the year.  I’ve been spending a lot of time working in DC recently and it’s starting to feel like another home.

I met my husband while I was in college working at a commercial scene shop.  We got married a couple months after I graduated – I asked the Old Globe if I could PA the summer Shakespeare festival in the gap in between the two so I could plan the wedding while in San Diego.  I left the preview process the day before our rehearsal dinner.  We have a hound dog who is excellent company.

My Equity card: ASM contract on a world premiere play at the Huntington Theater.  I had been working on AGMA operas for three years and I’m not sure if the Huntington realized I hadn’t joined Equity yet.  I signed the contract, Equity started deducting dues, and here we are.

How/Why is Equity and this work important to you?
I’ve worked a range of contracts, including GA, SPT, NEAT, and LORT.  For all of them I rely on the producer, Equity, and myself sharing a common understanding of expectations and boundaries as I go about my work.  I need to know that there are people backing me up so I am as safe as possible while working.  That means working conditions, adequate wages, contributions to health care, ability to plan for retirement.  It is easy to feel isolated and replaceable in this business but I work for Equity in order to ensure people are aware of the resources at their finger tips and to make sure they are starting from the strongest, most informed place possible.

Is there anything else do you do in the world (volunteerism, side hustle, civic work) that informs your worldview and the experience you will bring to the Council room?
I always find ways to serve.  Mostly things that involve listening or coming along side others to help them be heard or help connect them to the resources they need.

I’m deeply passionate about making safer work places for us.  I loved being part of the early conversations about the Line Drawn Initiative and new versions of bystander trainings in Boston, spearheaded by the amazing StageSource organization.

I love state politics.  I founded a unit of the League of Women Voters shortly after moving to my town.  The more we as citizens can do on a legal side to ensure good working conditions like higher minimum wages, access to paid family and medical leave, and better arts funding the more time we as union members have at bargaining tables to discuss other things.

What is a Fun Fact or something most people don’t know about you?
My dog and I took a nosework class together.  My husband called it sniff class.  Great for dog focus and observing doggy body language and signals.
When I was 5 my parents started construction on our house.  We spent the first year of the remodel living in a room in our backyard with no bathroom in it. We’d put shoes on and pick through the construction zone to get to the bathroom in the real house. It was very homesteading/little house on the prairie adventures. Also, our neighbors had camels for a little while.

Where/What is your happy place?
India. Or watching pandas at the zoo. I love pandas.