In support of Naomi Pohl for MU General Secretary, by Karen Anstee, freelance orchestral musician
If you examine the job description and the specific personal qualities, skillset and experience required for taking on the job of General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union, it’s clear that Naomi Pohl not only meets but exceeds those criteria, not least because of her unique experience as Deputy General Secretary.
I believe that in voting for Naomi Pohl we will be getting the best person to take the union forward as a modern, dynamic organisation, fit for a changing world, but with a true understanding and appreciation for the activism that has made the union the respected, influential body it is.
It really is that simple.
I’ve been a member of the MU since the mid 1980s and during that time I have felt my share of frustration about the way the union has been run. At times I felt it to be antiquated and hugely sexist, and at other times not feisty / aggressive / old school enough.
However, under Horace Trubridge’s leadership, and in no small part thanks to Naomi Pohl’s stellar work as his deputy, I have witnessed genuine improvements, underrepresented groups being afforded a voice, more attention being paid to the regions, membership numbers increasing, and engagement with arts policy makers being more proactive.
Naomi’s work campaigning to “fix streaming” has been amazing and a very public success, which has elevated the profile of the Musicians’ Union in the public eye, but she has also taken on less visible work that matters equally – that we now have the “Safe Space” for members to report bullying and sexual harassment has been a really welcome initiative in a profession that has been rife with these issues and in which freelancers, across all areas of the industry, whether in classical or commercial music, have been particularly at risk.
I have huge respect for Naomi – she has been an empowering force for change in the union and, as a someone who works both as a musician and a filmmaker, I have been really impressed to see that my view of Naomi is shared outside of the music world.
As a member of both the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and Directors UK, I’ve taken their AGMs as an opportunity to ask about how our Musicians’ Union is viewed, and it’s with great pride that I have heard, time and time again that the MU is seen as an influential leader amongst arts unions, with Naomi, in particular, spoken of with great respect.
It’s wonderful to see that there are multiple candidates seeking nomination. Choice benefits our democratic process and, that there is a choice, shows that the union is more open and accessible than it was in the past.
In our General Secretary, we need someone who understands the challenges we face as musicians, someone who is dynamic and forward thinking, someone who is a great communicator and who has the ear and respect of politicians across the spectrum, someone who is an experienced negotiator and someone who understands, and is representative of, our modern world.
In my opinion Naomi Pohl is that someone. She will fight for musicians across the board and present a highly intelligent, capable and professional public face as our representative.