Robert Taylor was named as the Guild's new Chair at the AGM on Friday 5th June in London. Robert, who is standing down as Treasurer, replaces Katharine Way who has completed her term of office. Andy Walsh and Roger Williams were elected as Deputy Chairs, while Rupert Creed takes on the role of Treasurer.
The main decision taken at the meeting was to increase the subscriptions rate for Full Members to £180 and 1.2% of earnings from writing over £15,000.
Introducing the proposed increase, Robert Taylor, still in the role of Treasurer, argued that though Guild membership is at record levels, subscription income has still been falling as fewer members were paying the highest rates. Exceptional payments had supported income in the past two years but this could not be relied upon, so a rate increase, the first for Full Members for seven years, was essential.
The increase in the percentage levy on earnings over £15,000 would, Robert continued, ensure that all Full Members made an additional contribution. A new online system will be introduced to help with calculations and to provide a variety of payment methods.
Robert also noted that the Guild's Welfare Fund was open to applications from existing members facing financial difficulties – including any sudden difficulties in affording subscriptions.
Several Guild members spoke from the floor in support of the motion, while also noting that the recruitment drive should continue.
All three motions relating to the subscriptions increase were carried unanimously.
There were no other motions at the AGM but the Craft Committees and National and Regional Committees spoke to their reports in the Annual Report.
Neil Gerrard MP, Secretary to the Performers' Alliance Parliamentary Group, was the guest speaker. The Group, he explained, was set up to provide a voice within parliament for the Performers' Alliance (of which the Guild is a member).
Current issues of concern include Arts Council England funding - there was a satisfactory increase for three years in 2007 but there's bound to be pressure on all public spending in coming years.
Public Service Broadcasting is another area that the Group has been concerned with. The Carter Report is due out later this month and, Neil Gerrard said, while many things are still to be decided there will definitely be some big changes. The state of children's TV was a cause of particular concern, he added, with new UK programming being cut back dramatically. The Parliamentary Group had been trying to persuade government to take urgent action, such as introducing tax credits as used in film industry, but so far without progress.
Guild member Julian Friedmann has an account of the meeting on his blog.