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Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Atists (ACTRA)

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) is a Canadian union of 20,000 professional performers working in English-language broadcasting, sound recording, film, commercial, and audio-visual production. Nationally, ACTRA was founded in 1940s, born from the mobilization of freelance performers and writers, working principally in CBC radio production. The first Saskatchewan founding member was actor/writer Jean Freeman; others included renowned performers and Theatre innovators Sue and Ken Kramer, founders of the Regina Globe Theatre. Saskatchewan ACTRA was tied originally to Winnipeg, but shortly evolved as an independent unit.

ACTRA represents performers' interests in negotiation and administration of agreements with producers, servicing and supervising members' contracts and production engagements, provision of benefit plans, and information and promotion; it also advocates on behalf of members and all artists. Prior to 1992, ACTRA represented writers and journalists as well as performers. However, writers separated to form the Writers Guild of Canada, and in 1993 journalists were required to join with the newly formed Canadian Media Guild. The Saskatchewan Branch of ACTRA has been a consistent advocate on behalf of Canadian artists, joining with community organizations and cultural unions to advance issues important to all artists. This advocacy has included critical support of many developments: advancement of engagement terms for artists- performers, writers, and journalists in CBC and regional programming in general; development of regional educational and private sector agreements; the Saskatchewan Motion Picture Association, SaskFilm; co-operative training and professional development initiatives, particularly in drama; the Professional Development Initiative; the Saskatchewan Sectoral Council for Culture; and Status of the Artist initiatives.

Despite the blow dealt to the Saskatchewan Branch by the division of the union in 1992-93, it has since regained strength - stimulated by the growth of the Saskatchewan film industry, between 1990 and 2003, from $5 million to over $50 million in production, and by innovative affirmative action recruitment and apprenticeship programs.

Sheila Roberts

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