My name is Ferne Downey and I am a Canadian actress. I am deeply honoured to have been elected President of the International Federation of Actors (FIA) at our 20th World Congress in Toronto in September, 2012. FIA is a recognised and respected voice for performers internationally and I am determined to help it grow further during my mandate.
It’s quite a journey that we undergo individually as artists. As performers we share many challenges because the life of an artist is never an easy path. It's a precarious career filled with uncertain work opportunities and fluctuating paycheques; it’s built on taking risks, embracing change and reinventing oneself. Despite our contribution to our cultures, societies and economies, too many of us are forced to work in despicable working conditions, to fight for the recognition of our social status and the respect of our core labour rights. I am privileged to have a strong union behind me, fighting for my rights and helping me make an honest living from my work. As the President of FIA, it will be my mission to ensure that other fellow performers may equally rely on solid unions to protect their legitimate rights in the workplace.
From the vision of two pioneers in the early fifties - Jean Darcante of the Syndicat National des Acteurs Français and Gerald Croasdell of British Actors’ Equity – FIA has emerged as a truly international, independent and non-governmental organisation, speaking on behalf of performers’ unions, guilds and professional associations on all continents. We will keep alive the spirit of those who have gone before us and achieved so much on our behalf and fight for the artistic, economic, social and legal interests of the performers we represent, wherever they live and work.
As producers consolidate their power - becoming large, vertically integrated corporations with ever-greater international reach - professional performers must build even stronger international solidarity and work towards global agreements to protect performers’ rights. We must fight to ensure every performer gets the benefit of a union contract, a safe work environment, and a fair share of the revenue that is generated from the exploitation of their work in all media.
FIA will work hard towards the ratification of the WIPO Audiovisual Performances Treaty (the Beijing Treaty), granting meaningful economic and moral intellectual property rights to performers, and the implementation of its various provisions into national law. At the same time, FIA will continue to fight for equal opportunities, non-discrimination, freedom of association and collective bargaining, professional training and career transition and many other substantial matters of concern to all of us: our Federation is a formidable network bringing us together and inspiring us every time we meet and learn from each other.
Global solidarity must be the bedrock upon which FIA will continue to build. We will campaign to secure the right to freedom of expression for all performers in all countries. We will resist any power that conspires to work against our best interests. We will pursue our ideals – and make them real.
Together, we will accomplish great things.
Thank you. Merci. Gracias.