V4A’s Leadership Team in AGMA

Elizabeth Sciblo (Chorister) – 2nd Vice President

Teresa Reichlen (Dancer) – 3rd Vice President

Samuel Schultz (Soloist) – 5th Vice President

David Salsbery Fry (Soloist) – New York Governor

Megan Marino (Soloist) – New York Governor

Abigail Wright (Chorister) – DC/Baltimore Governor

 

Elizabeth Sciblo (Chorister) – 2nd Vice President

“Prior to joining the Met chorus in 2013, I was a corporate HR manager for thirteen years. In that role, I witnessed the challenges victims of sexual harassment face when seeking justice. The #MeToo movement has provided a welcome opportunity to address this pressing issue.

While AGMA has effected measurable improvements in our industry, we must acknowledge the disconnect between our leadership and our members. We can fix this by committing to open communication from leadership and consistent, strong outreach to all members. As your 2nd Vice President, I will insist on continued support for full-time employees of AGMA signatories while focusing on expanding career opportunities and health insurance eligibility for everyone. I pledge to serve all of you equally and prove that the V4A platform is a unifying movement that will erase divisions between full-timers and itinerants.”

 

Teresa Reichlen (Dancer) – 3rd Vice President

“While dancers may not be as loud as opera singers, there is no reason for our voices to fall silent. Dancers are a significant, powerful and vital component of AGMA’s constituency. Many of us have been employed and living on our own from the time we were teenagers. As a consequence, dancers possess an inherent independence and drive. Nonetheless, we recognize that we are all a part of AGMA and must also champion the needs of the many different artists that comprise our union. It is time for us to temper our natural independence and join in a conversation that has lacked our input for too long.

Dancers have unique needs. Try as they might, it is impossible to expect our national officers to understand what our lives are like if there is not a dancer among them-- just as I could never imagine, on my own, the demands placed on an opera singer. No one without first-hand experience can understand the physical toll that the art takes on our bodies. They cannot understand the exhaustion of the corps de ballet during the fifth week of a Nutcracker run or what it feels like to fly halfway across the world and be expected to dance Swan Lake the next day.

As your 3rd Vice President, I will reclaim a voice in governance for dancers, who have been without national officer representation for four years. A Voice for All intends to ensure that dancers are never left out of the conversation again by amending AGMA’s constitution to mandate national officer diversity by member category in future elections. This would also prevent members of vastly different constituencies from running against one another. Additionally, we propose rotating chairs at meetings to foster new leadership, teach neutrality, and temper debate. Most important, these changes will foster balanced, democratic perspectives on issues, rather than allowing any constituency to drown out the concerns of another.”

Teresa Reichlen joined AGMA and the corps de ballet of New York City Ballet in 2001. She was promoted to principal dancer in 2009. That same year, Tess began service as an AGMA delegate. She has also served on AGMA’s negotiating committee for four contract negotiations with NYCB, and with her colleagues successfully lobbied for improvements to scheduling, media payments, inclusion of dancers at Board of Directors meetings and substantial measures to enhance dancer/management communication. Tess is a committed #MeToo advocate; she delivered an inspiring speech at NYCB’s Fall Gala this past September which we encourage you to read in its entirety here.

 

Samuel Schultz (Soloist) – 5th Vice President

“As AGMA’s 5th Vice President, I will work to revitalize our union to ensure that it represents its entire membership.

First, we must hold those in our industries who abuse power accountable for their intolerable actions.

A great deal of work remains to be done to help opera and ballet companies develop policies that remove secret protections for abusers. One powerful way to erase these protections is to foster openness and transparency in communications with company administrations and AGMA’s governance.

We must define and establish safe working environments, insist that companies create and enforce strong anti-harassment policies, and provide proper avenues for pursuing justice should those policies be violated. No more cover-ups, no more looking the other way, no more silence. Time’s up, and AGMA must recognize that and do something. The time for change is now.

I dream of a world where the path to professional success is open to all – where an artist’s socioeconomic status does not determine if she or he can audition. We must use every tool at AGMA’s disposal to rein in predatory application and audition fees. Also, while our collaborative pianist colleagues must be paid fairly for their hard work in auditions, that cost should not be borne by our members.

Reform is necessary. Accountability is vital. The work begins now.”

Baritone soloist Samuel Schultz joined AGMA in 2013. His courage and relentless advocacy for victims’ rights have made him the leader AGMA needs to reform a workplace culture that has marginalized victims while protecting the powerful for far too long. As your 5th Vice President, Sam will focus his attention on workplace safety, transparency in governance, member communication and new member orientation, diversity and inclusivity, and using every tool at AGMA’s disposal to reign in predatory application and audition fees in order to ensure that career paths are open to all, regardless of socioeconomic status. V4A stands proudly with Sam and the new generation of leadership he represents.

Sam’s article on this site:

 

David Salsbery Fry (Soloist) – New York Governor

“It is AGMA’s highest moral imperative that all voices be heard. I am dedicated to ensuring that the will of the entire membership drives our union. Significant portions of AGMA’s membership are chronically marginalized by its policies and priorities, and an entrenched incumbency operating in almost complete secrecy implicitly sustains this system, hindering meaningful reforms and fostering divisiveness. I am committed to breaking this cycle. Increasing transparency and accountability is an essential step; this is your union and you deserve to have all the facts in hand. We can take action to eradicate sexual predation, strengthen member engagement to expand our negotiating power and protect our hard-won victories, and bring an accruing health insurance benefit to all members, by adopting the best practices of the broader labor movement.”

David Salsbery Fry joined AGMA in 2005, and currently serves both on the Board of Governors and as Vice Chair of the New York Area Committee. AGMA signatory houses for which he has worked include New York City Opera, The Santa Fe Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, Gotham Chamber Opera and Chicago Opera Theater. A fierce believer in the labor movement and union democracy, David has received training from both the Labor Notes Troublemakers School and the Organizing Institute of the AFL-CIO. He has written about the opera industry for Classical Singer (which also profiled him in 2015), The Liberated Voice and Opera and Disability. His writings on AGMA appear in AGMAzine and Claudia Friedlander’s The Singer’s Audition & Career Handbook, which will be published later this year by Roman & Littlefield. David will work tirelessly to strengthen solidarity between all of AGMA’s member categories. He will fight for national bargaining priorities to expand eligibility for AGMA Health Fund Plan A coverage, to achieve fair compensation for all aspects of our members’ work, and to minimize the additional tax burden imposed on many of AGMA’s members by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. David is committed to ensuring that AGMA members have more opportunities to see their governance at work and to directly petition their leaders, and, through the V4A caucus, to achieve a better balance of member category representation among AGMA’s national officers.

David’s articles on this site:

 

Megan Marino (Soloist) – New York Governor

“My six-year anniversary as an AGMA member coincides with the end of this election. While I am relatively new to governance and to our union, I am excited for the opportunity to learn and grow alongside our members. As a young singer who is still in the early stages of building an itinerant soloist career, I have a unique perspective: it remains very fresh in my mind what it’s like to be a Young Artist (paid in small stipends and experience), and my daily reality is that of an emerging artist creating my own path in this ever-changing economic, social and political climate.

Since beginning my career in opera, I have worked for some of our nation's leading houses (Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera) and many regional union and non-union houses of varying sizes/budgets, as well as houses abroad. These experiences have granted me valuable perspectives on what helps artists to flourish on (and off) the job.

By working together, I believe that we can improve the quality of careers for itinerants without sacrificing gains achieved on behalf of our full-time colleagues. I also believe that AGMA can set the bar for how non-union houses operate by encouraging routine use of the Guest Artist Agreement and standardizing rehearsal practices and scheduling.

I hope to develop strategies to educate prospective members long before their first AGMA contract, work towards lowering the “price of admission” to become a union member, and help to promote union benefits, especially to those living and working in “right to work for less” states.

We are indeed stronger together, and I want to keep the lines of communication within our union open and fully functioning, across all disciplines represented by AGMA. I strongly believe that there are no dumb questions – any quandary a member poses to me will be met with respect and care, in a timely manner.

And if I don’t know the answer, I will joyfully find someone who does, and we’ll learn together!”

 

Abigail Wright (Chorister) – DC/Baltimore Governor

“As an active member of AGMA as a chorister and soloist since 2001, I look forward to serving the Washington/Baltimore Area by strengthening our union as a whole while also strengthening individual member rights. I’m passionate about increasing member engagement and benefits, as well as incentivizing greater racial and gender equality in the selection of productions and hiring of performers.

For too long, we’ve allowed our industry to operate on the premise of ‘that’s just how it is,’ instead of challenging the status quo that leaves many of our talented and capable members with fewer opportunities than they deserve because of their gender or race. We must do better, and with greater outreach, transparency, and increased engagement across the board, I believe we can.

Furthermore, in this era of expanded awareness of rights and behaviors in organizations, we need to identify and implement ways to protect our members by responding quickly and compassionately in the event of a reported incident. I want to ensure that our members feel safe, without the threat of harassment or hazardous workplace environments.

That’s why I stand with A Voice for All.

I’m grateful to have the opportunity to serve on the Board of Governors in such an active and thriving region, and I invite my fellow Washington/Baltimore members to work with me by actively continuing to voice your concerns for our union’s future.”