Friday, August 27, 2010

Long may it grow, The Nevada SAG Conservatory Story (part 1)

Nevada SAG Conservatory: The roots and truth of its growth

When I was the chair the Nevada SAG Conservatory we took it from small infrequent seminars to the most active conservatory outside of Hollywood.

It took a family, a dedication to the union and a lack of individual egos or social climbing. It took a belief in the education, unification and growth of the membership. It took a strong unionist core. We had that core. All I can take credit for is being an active chair. It was SAG councils, Conservatory committees, others in the community and strong support by member that made the SAG Conservatory what it is today.

We took it from six unconnected lessons a year to 24 quality seminars and workshops a year. In addition the SAG Consevatory launched a  Writer's Workshop run by Michael Plaisted. Then there were the fundraisers (Leland Murray and Dick Wilson will always be appreciated for their work on putting on our shows), the holiday mixers, and weekly mixers. We worked with the University, Charleston Heights, libraries and community centers. We varied sessions, with most on Sundays, but also Saturdays and week nights, to fit everyone's schedule.

Of course times change . The current Conservatory committee have done wonders in keeping it alive and financially in the black, despite increased costs and the stress of market growth.

Great job.

But "built" is inaccurate and misleading.

Joseph Bernard and others volunteered as far back as the 1980's, in efforts to launch the Conservatory. Among the venues was Arnie Bartz's Hollywood and Dine and Joe Bernard's studio. We had a brief chair who structured it similar to an acting class, then I was brought on board, almost 18 years ago.

It took a team from the branch I had the honor of leading, starting with Karen LaVonne (and her coffee urn), Kim Rene, Lollo Sievert (with her camera and active publicist role), Diane Thorne (who brought the Conservatory to Nevada), Steve Dressler, Michael Justin and Joseph Bernard...then over time we added Dick Wilson, Leland Murray, Rebecca Naviian-Amoli, Adrienne Mann Garcia, Kim Russell, Michael Plaisted and many many others.

24 sessions a year in classes alone; we averaged two a month.

We did table reads and performances of full scripts in development.

We had cold reading workshops with the writers so they could see their works, and lean more about how actors make decisions and what we need from them.

We had a placement file at UNLV for us in short film casting.

Many outside guest helped us build the Conservatory, among them Paul Napier, Dr. Alice Whitfield, Bob Bergan, Casting Direstor Joy Todd,  Casting Director Barbara Claman, Gary Schaffer, Bill Dance, Joe Reich, Peter Foy, Eddie Foy Jr,. and agent Gary Fuchs.

We had a wide rang of local support, including local SAG Franchised Agencies, Casting Directors and Production Companies.

It took a great deal of work over the past 20 or more years, under four chairs, 6 Branch presidents and 9 councils.

Thank you to all who took part in building, maintaining and keeping the Nevada SAG Conservatory strong.

Hats off the the current Conservatory committee, who have kept it strong, and as I said, solvent.

Two years ago Lollo Sievert ended her decades of service to the union. She was there at the official beginning of the Nevada SAG Conservatory and the years where the foundation and structure we follow today were established. Click here for Conservatory History Pt II by Lollo Sievert.

To be continued...

-Art Lynch

"Founding" chair

(OK, first chair of Conservatory in its current structure).

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