The Art Directors Guild is under new management, effective today. Veteran production designer Chuck Parker was sworn in this morning as the guild’s new executive director, succeeding Scott Roth, whom he defeated in an election last month mandated by the U.S. Department of Labor. Roth had held the post since 1997 without ever having had to stand for election – until last month.
“I want to connect with our members and I want our members to connect with each other,” Parker told Deadline. “I’m here to give everyone a fair shake, and to make sure our contracts are adhered to. I want all of our members to know that their local is here for them, no matter who they are.”
The guild — IATSE Local 800 — has been roiled by factionalism in recent years due in large part to the forced mergers of three IATSE art department locals into the Art Directors Guild, which now represents not only art directors and production designers but also set designers and model makers, illustrators and matte artists, and scenic and title graphic artists. Since the mergers began 13 years ago, the guild’s ranks have swollen from 650 members to nearly 2.500.
“I’m going to represent everyone — and I emphasize everyone,” Parker said. “Uniting this guild, with its disparate membership from all the mergers, is at the top of my list of things to do: to foster a sense of connection with all the members of our guild. This sense of frustration and disconnection does not exist at all in the departments at our workplaces. So we want to re-create that within the guild.”
Parker will be aided by a newly elected associate director — an assistant art director and the local’s former organizer, who goes by the name dooner — and by 12 newly elected board members. All were part of an election for the first time and sworn in this morning.
One of Parker’s first orders of business will be to meet with hundreds of IATSE leaders from around the country gathering in San Francisco on Monday for the union’s general executive board meeting, which the union’s Facebook page says will feature “an intensive education session focused on training local union officials inessential union skills, like activism and media messaging.”
After that, Parker and his new team will have to hammer out a new constitution, mandating, as the DOL ordered, that the local’s executive director, associate director and all of its board members be elected directly by members.