General Secretaries of FIA

FIA has grown steadily year after year, its work diligently administered by several General Secretaries, as outlined by the timeline here below.

Dominick Luquer

2001

Dominick Luquer joined FIA at the end of 1999, when he was recruited to build a solid FIA representation in Brussels, at the heart of Europe. As more countries joined the European Union, it became clear that FIA should establish a solid relationship with institutions and EU decision-makers, closely monitoring developments and speaking up for performers on all subjects of relevance to them. Pooling resources to expand the FIA Secretariat then became a necessity.

Dominick worked closely with Katherine Sand, then General Secretary of FIA, for about a year and a half and was appointed to succeed her in 2001. Prior to that, he worked as a lawyer in various areas of expertise, from consumer affairs to environmental and child protection. Despite not having a specific trade union background, Dominick had a natural affinity with the world of performers and was determined to help improve their livelihood - a passion he now shares with three more members of staff. In 2010, he relocated the FIA office from London to Brussels and expanded FIA's resources to drive more muscle into the Secretariat. FIA needed to grow to continue serving its membership at a critical time, when technology was about to bring new opportunities but also unprecedented challenges.

The spectacular growth of the Internet and digital media changed the way we think, live and interact with one another. It transformed consumer behaviour, made the world a much smaller place, brought down geographical and political barriers. It also had profound implications with respect to how performances are made, financed, delivered and enjoyed by global audiences. Digital theft misled entire generations into thinking that culture must be for everyone, as long as others pay for it. Global streaming services brought about the feeling that content must be available everywhere and anytime. As FIA members developed new tools to protect and monetize the work of their members in the digital environment, the Federation continued to promote new international standards at WIPO, ultimately leading to the 2012 adoption of the WIPO Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances. This was a landmark achievement for FIA and a tribute to the determination of many of our affiliates, who never let go and never lost faith, despite a long stalemate in negotiations. Since that day, FIA has been campaigning for the ratification of this instrument and its meaningful implementation in national legal systems.

Prior to this, FIA strongly upheld the adoption by UNESCO of the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of cultural Expressions, preventing the trade-off of cultural goods and services and acknowledging a country's prerogative to produce and distribute its own content, sustain job opportunities and nurture a proficient cultural industry.

Under Dominick's leadership, FIA and its member unions have entered an unprecedented time of political, social and economic turmoil, engendering severe cuts to the arts and culture, drastic labour market reforms and, more generally, a trend towards more flexible forms of employment challenging access to fundamental labour rights. Powerful new players have emerged in the industry, exploiting every trick of the game to maximise profits at minimal cost and at a global scale. In these demanding years, the value of international solidarity and cooperation has never been greater. From the collective action to secure decent terms and conditions for performers in New Zealand, or the right of performers to bargain collectively in Ireland despite their independent contractor status, to the resolve among FIA affiliates to tackle the double standards with respect to international productions in India, enhance the clout of performer unions in South Africa or protect the employment status of performers in Argentina, FIA's remit as a global union federation has never been so diversified. Whilst the world is witnessing more isolationism and protectionism, FIA continues to stand for diversity and equality, fair terms and conditions for all professional performers and their right to organize collectively.

Katherine Sand

1996-2001

Katherine Sand succeeded Michael Crosby as General Secretary of FIA in 1995, the first woman appointed to the position. Immediately prior to that, she had worked as Research and Campaigns Officer for British Actors' Equity under General Secretary, Ian McGarry, a wonderfully varied period of work, which in addition to writing, campaigning and research included attending meetings of EuroFIA, and administering the Union's International Committee for Artists' Freedom. Her involvement in providing support to displaced actors from war-torn former Yugoslavia was a particularly vivid and influential experience. She joined FIA with a strong grounding in the specialized world of actors' unions and their issues, including those in other countries.

Before that, Katherine spent several years working for the British Labour Party, in opposition, firstly as a Parliamentary Researcher and latterly as the Parliamentary Labour Party's Campaigns Officer, in the run-up to, and during the 1992 General Election. Despite the fact that Katherine was not, unlike her predecessors in FIA, a former Union General Secretary, she came to the organization with a deep commitment to the labour movement and much experience in campaigns and research.

Katherine's tenure at FIA in the second half of the 1990s was dominated in considerable part by developments at WIPO. The key elements were the processes leading to the adoption of the WPPT in 1996, and subsequently - at least at that time - the failed attempt to obtain an international instrument to protect the rights of performers in their audiovisual performances. FIA's affiliates, under Katherine's stewardship and the warm and exceptionally committed leadership of President Tomas Bolme, worked tirelessly to create and maintain consensus and despite considerable strains at times, the Federation remained strong, harmonious and united.

During this period FIA expanded its programs of union development, continuing to work in the former Soviet republics, and holding regular union-building workshops in a number of African countries, including South Africa and Zimbabwe, involving a large number of FIA affiliates as trainers and participants, bringing huge benefits to all those involved, trainers and trainees alike.

Live Performance was also an important element during this period and the first FIA Live Performance Conference was held in Lisbon in 1999, at which time American Actors' Equity, an important former affiliate re-joined FIA after a nine-year hiatus. Other initiatives relevant to the world of live performance included the EuroFIA Dance Passport, a program of exchange and practical solidarity to a particular group of performers when they worked abroad. FIA developed close relationships within the ILO at this time, maintained a profile within the increasingly influential network of collective management organisations and, despite the small size of the Secretariat, tried to be present anywhere that the interests of performers were discussed or potentially influenced, a campaigning approach that has since grown and flourished.

At this time, the FIA Secretariat was situated in London, but the appointment of Dominick Luquer as Assistant General Secretary in Brussels was the beginning of an important new base in Europe for FIA, and a recognition by all affiliates of the considerable significance of EU policy-making in relation to the interests of performers. The 1990's were a busy and energetic time in FIA, with an enthusiastic and active Presidium and motivated and energetic affiliates throughout the world working together to set the stage for even greater growth and influence in the 2000s.

Michael Crosby

1991-1995

Michael Crosby (on the right in the photograph) joined Actors Equity at the age of 7.

He became their Theatre Organiser in 1976 and then rose to be Federal Secretary from 1981 to 1991. That decade saw the growth of Equity into the powerful force it is today. The union's members successfully campaigned for a higher level of Australian Content regulations on television, the reform of film industry assistance, the protection of jobs for Australian actors in leading roles, tax averaging, increased subsidy for the performing arts, repeat and residual fees, SAG rates on foreign financed productions shot in Australia and higher minimum rates for actors across the industry. The decade ended with the negotiation of the merger of Equity with the Technicians Union and the Journalists' Association.

He was FIA General Secretary from 1991 to 1995 - a time of fundamental change for unions in Eastern Europe and the start of negotiations for an audio-visual Convention covering performers' rights.

When he came back from London, he helped construct a union building program for the ACTU, our peak Union Council, and ran that program for nearly ten years. Towards the end of that period he wrote the book, "Power at Work, rebuilding the Australian Union movement" - since translated into Dutch and German. Then followed a stint with the Service Employees International Union - a large North American union. During his time with SEIU, he ran a large campaign to organise cleaners in Australia and then moved to Amsterdam to set up and run the Change to Win European Organising Centre.

He returned to Australia again to become the National President of United Voice a very large general Union and ran campaigns to organise cleaners and early childhood education workers.

He is now back with SEIU, working in Europe and Asia, helping workers build powerful unions.

Rolf Rembe

1983-1991

Born in 1926, Rolf Rembe has been General Secretary of FIA form 1968 to 1973 and from 1983 to 1991.

His father being a ground schoolteacher in a rural part of south Sweden, Rolf studied literature and history at the University of Lund, planning to be a secondary school teacher. His BA was considerably delayed by a number of time-consuming but instructive tasks such as editor of the student paper and president of the student union. Instead of teaching he started in 1953 as an all-round journalist at a small, left wing daily newspaper in Stockholm. He also served for one year with the Swedish Branch of the international commission that supervises the armistice after the Korean War. Then from January 1956 he became the first permanent trade union secretary of the Swedish theatre workers (Svenska Teaterförbundet).

Rolf had not studied law. He had never been an actor. But during his years at Lund he had fallen in love with a young actress at the theatre in the nearby city of Malmö. The years with her had given him an insight in the professional, not least the economic, conditions of actors.

The union was old but weak. The members had yet to come to terms with the contradictions of their profession: to be artistically successful they must perform; to obtain decent living conditions they must be prepared to refuse performing. In the 1950s, the state television had a strong monopoly position. When the union went on strike in December 1963 the TV management still expected the performers to "come creeping back on their knees". They were wrong. After a strike lasting 111 days with perfect discipline from the artists an acceptable agreement was reached. At the FIA congress in Mexico City 1964 Rolf had been elected a Vice President of FIA. When in 1968 the secretary of the French member union Pierre Chesnais left his position as 'part time' General Secretary of FIA Rolf was asked to take over from Stockholm. The arrangement lasted for five years till Gerald Croasdell was elected the first full time FIA Secretary with an office in London.

FIA was important particularly in the field of radio, television and cinema. Inspired by Gerald Croasdell and British Equity Rolf advocated, although with limited success, that FIA policy should be that 'a performance is a performance' and that each communication to an audience, whether live or recorded, should give right to a separate remuneration. Such aspirations had at an early stage brought FIA, jointly with the musicians' international body FIM, into the demanding and mostly uphill area of 'intellectual rights' and international conventions such as 'the Rome Convention' and 'the Eurovision Agreement'.

Another task was to make the FIA truly international: neither the performers of the USA nor the Soviet Union were yet members. It was a delicate task at a time marked by the 'cold war' and the 'iron curtain' through Europe. Through much effort and diplomacy the then FIA President Vlastimil Fisar of Czechoslovakia and Rolf were successful in bringing both the Americans and the Soviets to join the federation at the Congress in Amsterdam 1970. Ironically, and sadly, Vlastimil Fisar in the same period became politically and professionally ostracised by the rulers in his home country for being 'counter-revolutionary'.

In 1977, after 21 years with Teaterförbundet, Rolf was asked to be the director of the municipal theatre in Malmö (the one where he first learned of actors' conditions). After three years he moved over to Copenhagen to be head of the cultural department of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

In 1983 Rolf returned to FIA as General Secretary in London and thus became the successor of his own successor Gerald Croasdell. His stay in London lasted till 1992, years mainly devoted to the expansion of FIA and consolidation of its activities including cooperation with UNESCO and response to the ongoing economic and political development of the European Union. When he left the fall of the 'Berlin Wall' and of the Soviet Union had opened a new situation for the performers in Eastern Europe and their unions and had made their relation to FIA similar to the one in the rest of the world.

Gerald Croasdell

1974-1983

The son of a London borough town clerk, Gerald Croasdell had an improbable background for a trade union official - even for one in so rarefied a calling as the theatre. Moreover, there was no trace of actor's blood in his own veins. A lawyer by training, he first joined Equity as its legal officer in 1950 but it was almost certainly his politics rather than his legal training that recommended him to the then Equity general secretary, Gordon Sandison.

The actors' trade union was at the time bitterly riven by faction, and the hard Left was temporary in the ascendant. From that point of view, Gerald Bright Croadwell, who had gone to school at Highgate, had everything going for him: a pre war president of the Cambridge Union and a member of the Apostles, he had gone one to run the youth section of the League of Nations Union, being particularly active on behalf of the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil war.

Croasdell's own military service during the Second World War was spent first as a tank commander and then in the rather more unconventional role of Army field officer on board an aircraft carrier in the Far East. At the end of the war he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

Finding that private practice either as a barrister or as a solicitor did not fulfil all his aspirations, he accepted with some relief the job as legal officer of Equity - to which was later added the assistant general secretary ship - joining the union in the year that the Korean War began. By then here was a good deal less tolerance towards communists and fellow-travellers even within the trade union movement than there had been when the Soviet Union was Britain's valued wartime ally; but Croasdell's own reaction to the vicious political infighting that threatened to destroy Equity was perhaps surprising. Well before he took over as general secretary in 1958, following the illness and death of his predecessor, he had resolved that the union could survive only if it concentrated on fighting for those industrial and professional rights behind the assertion of which all members, whatever their political hue, could unite.

This attitude made no difference to his own political views, which remained unapologetically Marxist and left wing, but in his official capacity he eschewed all partisan stands and ran the risk of appearing just as respectable and sober as the conventional suits he invariably wore. The bureaucratic impression he created, however, made him into a particularly effective negotiator and he enjoyed some substantial successes on behalf of his members - notably with the TV contractors over fees for recorded performances, on television in the early 1960s. The BBC later had to fall in line with the new deal for actors which - in the age of videotape - he had successfully put in place.

On his retirement from Equity, well before he was 60, Croasdell become general secretary of the International Federation of Actors, a body with which he had been closely associated ever since the mid-1950s. The history of FIA shows that the course of the Federation was profoundly influenced by Gerald's contribution. First as delegate from British Equity, later as Vice President and then as General Secretary and General Secretary emeritus. He helped steer FIA to a delicate balance between East and West at the time of cold war rhetoric that might have wrecked what looked as a tenuous alliance at best.

Rolf Rembe

1968-1974

Born in 1926, Rolf Rembe has been General Secretary of FIA form 1968 to 1973 and from 1983 to 1991.

His father being a ground schoolteacher in a rural part of south Sweden, Rolf studied literature and history at the University of Lund, planning to be a secondary school teacher. His BA was considerably delayed by a number of time-consuming but instructive tasks such as editor of the student paper and president of the student union. Instead of teaching he started in 1953 as an all-round journalist at a small, left wing daily newspaper in Stockholm. He also served for one year with the Swedish Branch of the international commission that supervises the armistice after the Korean War. Then from January 1956 he became the first permanent trade union secretary of the Swedish theatre workers (Svenska Teaterförbundet).

Rolf had not studied law. He had never been an actor. But during his years at Lund he had fallen in love with a young actress at the theatre in the nearby city of Malmö. The years with her had given him an insight in the professional, not least the economic, conditions of actors.

The union was old but weak. The members had yet to come to terms with the contradictions of their profession: to be artistically successful they must perform; to obtain decent living conditions they must be prepared to refuse performing. In the 1950s, the state television had a strong monopoly position. When the union went on strike in December 1963 the TV management still expected the performers to "come creeping back on their knees". They were wrong. After a strike lasting 111 days with perfect discipline from the artists an acceptable agreement was reached. At the FIA congress in Mexico City 1964 Rolf had been elected a Vice President of FIA. When in 1968 the secretary of the French member union Pierre Chesnais left his position as 'part time' General Secretary of FIA Rolf was asked to take over from Stockholm. The arrangement lasted for five years till Gerald Croasdell was elected the first full time FIA Secretary with an office in London.

FIA was important particularly in the field of radio, television and cinema. Inspired by Gerald Croasdell and British Equity Rolf advocated, although with limited success, that FIA policy should be that 'a performance is a performance' and that each communication to an audience, whether live or recorded, should give right to a separate remuneration. Such aspirations had at an early stage brought FIA, jointly with the musicians' international body FIM, into the demanding and mostly uphill area of 'intellectual rights' and international conventions such as 'the Rome Convention' and 'the Eurovision Agreement'.

Another task was to make the FIA truly international: neither the performers of the USA nor the Soviet Union were yet members. It was a delicate task at a time marked by the 'cold war' and the 'iron curtain' through Europe. Through much effort and diplomacy the then FIA President Vlastimil Fisar of Czechoslovakia and Rolf were successful in bringing both the Americans and the Soviets to join the federation at the Congress in Amsterdam 1970. Ironically, and sadly, Vlastimil Fisar in the same period became politically and professionally ostracised by the rulers in his home country for being 'counter-revolutionary'.

In 1977, after 21 years with Teaterförbundet, Rolf was asked to be the director of the municipal theatre in Malmö (the one where he first learned of actors' conditions). After three years he moved over to Copenhagen to be head of the cultural department of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

In 1983 Rolf returned to FIA as General Secretary in London and thus became the successor of his own successor Gerald Croasdell. His stay in London lasted till 1992, years mainly devoted to the expansion of FIA and consolidation of its activities including cooperation with UNESCO and response to the ongoing economic and political development of the European Union. When he left the fall of the 'Berlin Wall' and of the Soviet Union had opened a new situation for the performers in Eastern Europe and their unions and had made their relation to FIA similar to the one in the rest of the world.

Pierre Chesnais

1952-1968

After completing his law degree and with a diploma from the Paris Institute of Political Studies (l'Institut d'études politiques - IEP), Pierre Chesnais was engaged by the National Actors Union (Syndicat National des Acteurs - SNA) in 1948 as a "general agent." He put in place a legal service and social service in the union.

In 1951, together with Jean Darcante, he was instrumental in the creation of FIA, finally achieved in London in 1952. He was named its Secretary General and retained this position until 1968. The work was focused, among other things, on problems related to cinematic co-productions, to TV broadcasting, to performers' rights and various theatrical issues.

In 1955, he was also active in the creation of ADAMI (then called the "Agency for the administration of the rights of musicians and performing artists"). He became its first managing director and remained in this position until 1968.

In 1957, on behalf of the SFA and of FIA, he drew up a draft law on the rights of performers, intended both for use by the French legislator and for consideration in the context of an international Convention (the first would be the Rome Convention in 1961).

Unfortunately, in France, the 1957 law on Literary and Artistic Property failed to recognise performers as authors.

As a lawyer, but also an activist, Pierre Chesnais had accepted a salary at the union that did not match up to his qualifications and in 1969, the union of music producers (le syndicat des producteurs de disques - SNEP) employed him as general secretary. He stayed there until 1986 and would also become managing director of the Society for the management of the rights of music producers (Société de gestion des droits des producteurs phonographiques - SCPP) from 1985 to 1987.

Ever a defender of literary and artistic intellectual property rights, he was one of the main contributors to the so-called " Lang Law " of 1985, which put in place a system of neighbouring rights for performers and producers.

He was also behind the creation, in 1984, of the " Foundation for the creation and distribution of music" (later the FCM) which brought together the collecting societies, the authors' and performers' unions, the union of music producers and the public authorities. He was its President from 1985 to 1988 and was still an Honorary President when he passed away in 2011.