29 January, 2019
The Australian Writers’ Guild would like to welcome and introduce you to three new members of the National Executive Committee, elected in November 2018.
Screenwriters Shelley Birse and John Collee were both elected to the NEC as NSW representatives, and playwright and screenwriter Sally Hardy, the Chair of the South Australian Committee, was elected to the NEC as the new South Australian representative.
Marcia Gardner, one of Australia’s most successful screenwriters and a Guild member for almost 30 years, has joined the AWGACS board, also having been elected in November 2018.
Sally Hardy said on her election: ‘I’ve been a proud member of the Guild ever since a representative came and spoke to my graduating year of screenwriters at RMIT back in 2004. I was convinced then, as I still am now, that the AWG provides an invaluable service to writers, fighting for their rights and championing their interests.'
Upon his election, John Collee reflected on the value of the Guild to its members: ‘Whether you are a new or established writer, an AWG membership is truly the best value for money in the whole of the entertainment industry. The services they can provide in terms of script assessment, contracts and networking opportunities cost a fraction of what you would normally pay an agent, a lawyer or a manager.’
Shelley Birse described her first NEC meeting experience as revealing: ‘I came away equal parts embarrassed and thrilled. Embarrassed that after so many years of membership I actually had no clue how wildly proactive and relentlessly busy the Guild have been on my behalf . . . And thrilled at how wildly proactive and relentlessly busy the Guild continue to be on my behalf,’ she mused.
‘Whatever pops to the surface of your inbox is the tip of an almighty iceberg of strategic action taking writers’ rights and renumeration to levels we have never, in this country, seen before. The AWG is changing the rules of engagement, calling the spades and making sure the roles we play as writers, creators and producers are finally acknowledged truthfully and rewarded fairly. It's a fight they do on our behalf, with the kind of vigour we can be humbled by, but they cannot do it without us.’
Also at the 2018 elections, AWG Full members Ian David and Teresa Crea, both long-serving NEC members who have made significant contributions throughout their tenure, did not stand for re-election.
Ian David is a past President of the Australian Writers’ Guild (1999–2003) and in 2011 was awarded the Richard Lane Award for his outstanding contribution to the Guild. Part of his legacy is the formation of the Australian Writers' Guild Authorship Collecting Society (AWGACS), which in 2018 alone collected and distributed over $2 million in secondary royalties to writers. Ian is someone who has given more to the Guild than his fellow writers can ever repay him for.
Teresa Crea is a long-serving member and former Chair of the South Australian Committee and was the inaugural Chair and force behind the formation of the Guild’s Games and Interactive Committee, a passion area for Teresa and a Committee to which she generously gave her expertise and many hours of her time.
Finally, Tim Pye has stepped down as Chair of AWGACS following on from the settlement AWGACS and the Guild came to with Screenrights in late 2018.
Tim’s service to writers is without peer. His contributions over decades too many to list. Tim has given more than 30 years of service to writers on the AWG and AWGACS Boards during some of the most turbulent and triumphant years of the Guild’s history, serving as Guild President from 2006 to 2010 and as AWGACS Chair since 2011. In recognition of this, he was awarded the Richard Lane Award for service to the Guild in 2016.
Tim has long been instrumental in championing the Guild’s industrial agenda, he has been at the heart of many crucial negotiations with SPA which changed the landscape for every working screenwriter. He has seen AWGACS grow from its fledgling beginnings to its strength and success today and he has given tirelessly and determinedly to fight for the rights of writers over decades – most of whom will never know how much he has done for them.
It has also been a gift for writers that Tim, in his role as founding Head of Development of Scripted Ink, was able to use his professional writing and producing skills and bring the same intelligence and commitment to champion the cause of writers that he has always done, but with the skills that he has developed over a lifetime – nurturing scripts and writers, whilst also still fighting for their rights.
‘Tim Pye’s contribution to the Guild and to AWGACS has been extraordinary: his generosity with his time, his fearlessness and his sense of justice have made him a formidable fighter for the rights of writers, and we are hugely indebted to him,’ said Jan Sardi, outgoing AWG President in a statement.
‘Ian David was a founding member of AWGACS and has left a legacy of service worthy of our utmost respect and gratitude. Truly, writers would not enjoy many rights they currently do if it were not for the ground-breaking work of Ian and Tim.'
New President Shane Brennan echoed these sentiments: ‘Both Ian and Tim have been behemoths for the Guild, and its members and it is by standing on their shoulders that we continue to advance today.’
To all outgoing board members, the AWG offers its most sincere thanks for the time, effort and energy they have put in on behalf of their fellow writers.