AFM Local 47 names Los Angeles Mayor an honorary member
by Linda A. Rapka
AFM Local 47 proudly welcomed Mayor Eric Garcetti to the April 28 General Membership Meeting to name him an honorary member of the musicians union in recognition of his dedication to our city’s musicians and for his efforts to keep film and TV work in Hollywood by fighting runaway production.
Jazz duo Katie Thiroux and Sam Hirsch performed as guests filtered into the auditorium. Special attendees included Los Angeles Board of Public Works President Kevin James; Los Angeles Board of Public Works Commissioners Mike Davis (also a Local 47 member), Matt Szabo and Monica Rodriguez; “Mad Men” composer David Carbonara; Timothy Pershing, field representative for Assemblymember Richard Bloom; and “American Idol” music contractor Ernie Fields Jr.
Local 47 President Vince Trombetta delivered opening remarks, followed by Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Esteemed member Rickey Minor, former “Tonight Show” bandleader, bassist, and current musical director of “American Idol,” along with Local 47 officers Trombetta, Vice President John Acosta, and Secretary/Treasurer Gary Lasley, presented a beaming Mayor Garcetti with a plaque and gold Honorary Membership card.
Elegantly addressing the crowd, Mayor Garcetti shared about his life growing up surrounded by music. Modeling after his parents and sister, he learned to play piano at an early age and attended the Yamaha School of Music. By age 7 he was already composing.
“I grew up with music all around me,” Garcetti said. “It’s who I am; it’s what I am. This honor is really personally significant to me.”
The mayor spoke of his endorsement of Local 47’s #ListenLA campaign, which promotes music scoring work here in Hollywood.
“If we lose the musicians and we lose the creators here in Los Angeles, what are we? If you want the very best people, you’re talking about Los Angeles,” he said. “You’re talking about those musicians represented by Local 47. Nobody plays like them, nobody writes like them, nobody reads like them, nobody swings like them. This is Local 47 and you can count on this mayor — not just because I’m a fellow honorary member now — to make sure the #ListenLA campaign is a successful one.”
He also touched upon issues brought up by the AFM’s national Listen Up! campaign, which aims to stem the offshoring of music jobs by film production companies.
“When companies go outside the United States and make $150 million, $450 million, a half a billion off a film but can’t pay some union musicians here in Los Angeles, that’s wrong,” Garcetti said. He spoke of his support of AB 1839, a bill that would boost California’s Film and TV Tax Credit Program, including adding additional incentives for post-production film scoring in the state.
“I’m fighting not for a tax credit bill up in Sacramento, but for a jobs bill in Sacramento,” he said. “We’re going to stop this bleeding. We’re not going to take it lying down. We are going to make sure that this once again is the entertainment capital — the music capital — of the world that we deserve to be.”
The mayor shared that for every dollar put forward in the state’s film and TV production incentive program the state government loses between three and 16 cents, but generates an estimated $15 of economic activity.
“No other ratio comes close to that effective use of public money to spur direct jobs, and then in turn to spur many more dollars into the economy where people can live and thrive in the community,” he said. “Which is why from day one when I was sworn in I said this would be a priority of mine.”
He delivered some pretty grim production figures in California over recent years. “Of the 54 big-budget feature films shot in 2012 and 2013, only one was filmed here in California,” he said, adding that feature film production has dropped nearly 50% in the last 15 years. California’s share of one-hour TV dramas, once the state’s lifeblood, declined from 64% to 28% between 2005 and 2013.
“It’s not just a percentage; it’s 8,500 jobs that left,” Garcetti said. “It’s a crisis, but I don’t want you to be depressed. It’s one we can solve. It’s one I want to help lead.”