Posted in Information
General Secretary: Bernie Corbett
Deputy General Secretary: Anne Hogben
Assistant General Secretary: Ellie Peers
Membership Administrator: Kate Glasspool
Contact: c/o the Guild office
Chair: Roger Williams
Deputy Chair: Ming Ho
Deputy Chair: Anthony Pickthall
Treasurer: Andrew S. Walsh
President: David Edgar
Manon Eames (Wales)
Julie Ann Thomason (Scotland)
Richard Pinner (East Midlands)
Steve Trafford (London and South East)
Antony Pickthall(North West)
Marie Mcneill (South West)
Nick Yapp (Books)
Gail Renard (TV)
Amanda Whittington (Theatre)
Olivia Hetreed (Film)
Katharine Way (Radio)
Jayne Kirkham (Children's)
Chair: Darren Rapier
Chair: Andrew S. Walsh
The EC in their own words – why they do what they do
Manon Eames – Welsh Representative
Having been a member of Equity for many years, when I started to write professionally, about twenty years ago, I was glad to find that there was also a writers’ union which I could join, and which would not only represent my interests, but could offer help and support to me with negotiations over rights and contracts etc. Since becoming a member, I have had the need to call on the Guild for advice on numerous occasions, and have always had an accurate, helpful and prompt response. These are obviously particularly difficult and challenging times for the creative industries, making the amazing work achieved by the Guild even more important. I am therefore very glad to have recently become Chair of the Welsh Committee, and it is a privilege to be a member an organisation with such integrity and purpose, and which works so hard, across many media and platforms, to protect writers from unfairness and exploitation.
David Edgar - President
I was a founder member of the Theatre Writers' Union in 1975, which - after an initial spat - collaborated with the Guild in negotiating theate agreements, and joined up with the Guild in the 90s. That gave me my first period on the EC, to which I returned when I was elected President in 2007. The President is the only person on the EC without a vote, but as he can speak, it's worth turning up, not least to promote the recruitment drive and regional branches which are closest to his heart.
Olivia Hetreed – Chair of the Film Committee
I joined the Guild for purely selfish reasons. I wanted a WGA screening of my debut feature, Girl with a Pearl Earring, and had to be a WGGB member to get one. But within days of being accepted into the Guild I found myself tiptoeing nervously into my first Film Committee meeting. I was intrigued and impressed by the hard work put in by the volunteer committee on all sorts of tricky issues for writers, which I had thought had to be borne or struggled against alone.
Since then the committee has produced Guidelines for screenwriters, revised Credit Arbitration, organised a multitude of talks and networking events for screenwriters, producers and directors. We have been able to recognise the talent of newer writers with our First Feature Award and helped out with sadly too many contract tangles. In the last year we have spearheaded joint work with directors and producers on the Film Policy Review and produced a comprehensive survey of the relationship between screenwriters and film festivals, Written into the Picture.
Ming Ho – Deputy Chair
As a series television writer, I joined for the pension scheme (still a good deal – up to 8% of your fees in employer contributions). It’s lonely at home with your laptop, and I found it was good to meet other writers at the AGM and other Guild events; I realised I wasn’t on my own. The issues that troubled me in my daily working life turned out to be shared by many – but few felt confident to speak up individually. I joined the TV Committee to see what we could do together, and became involved in revising the Guild’s Television Guidelines (due for another refresher!) and on the BBC Forum, helping to negotiate the recently signed new writers’ agreements. These days we can exchange views more easily and instantly via social media – but we still need the collective face of the Guild to represent ourselves effectively as a professional force to be reckoned with. If you’ve got something to say that you think is not being heard, come and say it through us!
Jayne Kirkham - Chair of the Children’s Committee
As a fledgling writer, it came as a great shock when the agent that I had clung to like a baby bird booted me out of his nest. I realised pretty quickly that I would be easy pickings for any media predator and so joined the Writers' Guild - safety in numbers and oh for flock's sake, I'll drop the avian metaphor before I say something twee like, "and the Guild helped me to fly." Although that is sort of what happened. I was delighted to find the Guild committees are all volunteers and that I could get involved. I helped out on the Editorial committee, the Children's and TV, before realising that what I really wanted to do was focus on children's media. The Guild supported my getting involved with what is now the Children's Media Foundation and have been even more supportive when I said I wanted to set up an All Party Parliamentary Group for Children's Media and the Arts.
But these activities see me focus more on the audience than the writer. And the Guild is a trade union. And I am a writer. So to protect the rights of children's writers I have made sure that each of the craft committees has a children's specialist, who can join together as the Children's Committee as and when appropriate. This means that problems specific to the craft are dealt with more effectively by specialists while allowing for problems that cross over as well as raising issues that I can take to Westminster more efficiently. The baby bird has grown teeth. Oh no, we've created a monster! Good innit.
Marie MacNeill – Cornwall and Devon Representative
I first joined the EC nearly a decade ago. I remain hugely impressed by how much a small staff can achieve with the support of the voluntary committees and members. It is our union and it’s important that we continue to feel able to approach officers with work related problems. All too often writers – who are at the beginning of the creative chain – can be marginalised or simply forgotten. I hope that my contribution helps the Guild to remind members that we are here to help and support and to make sure that writers remain in the creative room. I currently represent Cornwall and Devon.
Antony Pickthall - Deputy Chair
First I was a member of Theatre Writers Union (TWU) which I joined after my first play was given a professional workshop by North West Playwrights and went on to Chair the Manchester branch. When TWU merged with the Guild I stepped back and got on with my writing and being a member. The Guild has made great strides, particularly under Bernie Corbett's leadership and when I moved to Liverpool I wanted to be part of making the work of the Guild even stronger. It has helped me on many occasions and every time I meet a writer who is not a member I think they're missing out and find I can't help pointing this out. I have helped establish the Merseyside branch and have been representing the Branch at the EC.
Gail Renard – Chair of Television Committee
Years ago I noticed that the writers I admired most were in the Guild and still are: Tom Stoppard, Steven Moffat, Armstrong and Bain, to name but a few. When I was accepted into the Guild as a Full Member, I felt I’d crossed a bar. I was a professional writer. I started attending Guild events and heard incredible speakers. Former President Alan Plater reminded us that alone writers don’t stand a chance, but together we stand a bit of a chance. He was right. We punch far above our weight.
I’ve seen the WGGB become a David in a world of Goliaths; achieving some of the best rates and rights for writers anywhere in the world across various media. We continue to go boldly into new areas: on-line, e-books and video games. Wherever writers work, the Guild tries to get there first to cover our backs. And impressively, it’s mostly done by writers for writers. The Guild is a membership run organisation. And together we do move mountains so, whenever possible, we should all take our turn and do our bit. A while back another Guild President, Rosemary Anne Sisson, caught my eye at a meeting and before I knew it, I was on the EC. I hope to catch your eye at a meeting soon.
Julie Ann Thomason – Scottish Representative
I joined the guild in 1996 after my first textbook was published. On returning to the UK I contacted the Guild office to offer to help with the Scottish Branch. In 2010 I became Scottish rep. My aim has been to try and vitalise the branch and have held branch meetings in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, organised events such as meeting agents, TV people, Creative Scotland and BBC and invited guild EC members to come and meet us. I represent the Guild at the Literature Forum for Scotland and at SFEU. In August this year the Guild I arranged for the Guild to have a stall at the Edinburgh Fringe Fair manned by myself and a couple of volunteers and hope this now becomes a yearly event. I feel strongly about Intellectual property rights that awareness has to be constantly maintained of the constant threat to our livelihood and that writers need a strong voice and the best way is by working together.
Andrew S. Walsh – Treasurer
After the Guild had helped me resolve a contract/non-payment problem, I turned up at an AGM to learn more about the organisation I’d joined. It was a real eye-opener to discover that the Guild’s officers and committees were all volunteers and that I, as a relatively new member, could get involved too. Since then I’ve served as chair of the Children’s Committee, formed the Videogames Committee, joined the EC, spent 3 years as Deputy Chair and am now Treasurer. Through this journey I have continued to be amazed at what the Guild manages to achieve and at the huge amounts of work that some writers are prepared to do in their own time to ensure that writers’ rights are preserved. It’s a difficult working world out there and standing together is the best way to not only survive it, but to make it better.
Roger Williams – Guild Chair
I've been a member of the Guild since I started writing professionally. An established member - who understood how important recruiting new members is to the Guild - spoke to me about the Guild after a performance of one of the plays and signed me up. I was encouraged to attend meetings in Cardiff and learnt tonnes about the industry from writers I wouldn't have met unless I'd joined. A few years later I became the Wales Representative on the Executive Committee and started taking part in negotiations. I organised events in Cardiff and represented the Guild at the Federation of Entertainment Unions (Wales). Before becoming Chair of the Guild in 2012, I was a Deputy Chair for three years and Chair of the Editorial and Communications Committee. I realised many years ago that writers were the only group that could - and should - represent their interests effectively. We can best do this by working together. The Guild is a small but influential organisation. By encouraging more members to become involved in the Guild's day to day work we can only be stronger.
Amanda Whittington – Chair of Theatre Committee
I joined because the rights we’ve come to expect as playwrights have been fought for, won and retained by the Writers’ Guild – and still are. The terms and conditions set out in our contracts can’t be taken for granted, especially in the current climate. By joining the union, we give our collective support to this vital work and more. I now Chair the Theatre Committee, which is an opportunity not only to examine the challenges we face with fellow playwrights but to do something about them. It’s a voluntary position but I’ve found the more you give as a member, the more you gain.
Katherine Way – Chair of the Radio Committee
I joined the Guild as soon as I was eligible, because I've always been a member of whatever union was available. I remember going to my first AGM and realising that I was in a room with my heroes. There was the man who'd adapted Nicholas Nickleby for the RSC and written a play that made me realise "modern" drama didn't stop with Oscar Wilde. There was the woman who'd written the children's stories I devoured, and the other woman whose adaptation of a novel for BBC2's Classic Serial was so scary it had given me nightmares (in a good way). And there was the man who'd sexed up Jane Austen. There were the people who'd written The Wednesday Play and Play for Today. Thanks to the battles they fought, and their talent, bloody-mindedness and their extreme cleverness (to quote Douglas Adams), I can write about such once-forbidden subjects as sex outside marriage, gayness and unplanned pregnancy - and where would today's soaps be without those things? It's simple - being part of the Guild means hanging out with all the cool writers. And it means I get to say Thank you. Thanks for writing the TV show or play or novel (or episode of Dr Who) that enthralled me, and inspired me, and made we want to be a writer. (And the Karaoke nights are great. No. Kidding.)
Nick Yapp – Chair of Books Committee
I was persuaded to join the Guild by a kind of Press Gang that patrolled the Light Entertainment corridor of BBC Radio back in the 1980s. Later, I was invited to join and then to Chair the Books Committee – which is how I ended up on the EC. I write this after completing an obituary article on Eva Figes – author and Co-Chair of the Guild in 1986. In her inaugural message to the Guild (entitled The State if the Union), she wrote: 'We cannot survive as an effective organisation unless we obey the spirit of a union, which is to give as well as take'. That is the way it must be, and I am still shot through with admiration for what others do for our union. You have to try to follow where they lead.