19 June 2012
Posted in General
Extracts from the speech given by the new Writers' Guild Chair, Roger Williams, at the AGM last week
I've been trying to remember of late when exactly I became a member of the Writers' Guild. I think it was 15 years ago. I was 22 years old and an early starter. Longstanding Guild member Sion Eirian was at a performance of one of my plays. Sion had his recruitment patter down to a fine art. He started by telling me how great my play was before sweeping in for the kill and asking me to join up. Flattery, in my case, really will get you anywhere.
The Wales branch met at that time in the back room of a rugby club in Cardiff on the third Wednesday of each month except August, when members would be at the National Eisteddfod, and December, when everyone would meet for a curry. It was at these committee meetings that I learnt about the business of being a writer. Contracts, negotiation, attendance fees, and the industry gossip. Individuals - often in competition with each other - coming together with the shared interest of helping one another.
This is fundamentally what the Guild is to me. Writers working together to get a better deal, to defend our rights and to campaign on issues that unite us.
I graduated from the smoky rugby club to being a representative on the Guild's Executive Council . Terrifying at first. I don't think I spoke for a year, but with time I found my feet and you'll be relieved to learn, I'm starting to get the hang of it.
So, I take over as Chair. Not an easy job when you remember whom I'm taking over from. Robert Taylor has done a tremendous amount for the Guild. He's overseen - with Bernie Corbett and the staff - a series of initiatives that have prepared our union for the future. The new BBC agreement, the establishment of Writers Digital Payments and the Writers Guild Foundation.
Thanks should also be paid to Rupert Creed, the outgoing treasurer, for his commitment to the Guild. I know the Guild is in a better shape now thanks to the work of these two men.
I lo ok forward to working with new treasurer Andy Walsh, new deputy chairs Ming Ho and Antony Pickthall and the. I also look forward to working with you because we ARE doing this together.
You've shown your commitment to the Guild by coming here today to the AGM and I encourage you to continue supporting our union in whatever way you can.
If you give a talk about your work, mention the Guild. Join Twitter and retweet the Guild's news stories. Persuade your colleagues to sign up. If you aren't on a Guild committee, join one. If you are on a committee, join another.
It is through dialogue and co-operation that the Guild is where it is today and long may it continue.
(Photo of Roger Williams by Warren Orchard Photography)