Monday, November 13, 2017

The Writers’ Guild of South Africa becomes a full member of the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds (AIWG); 2019 AGM set to be held in South Africa.

After 8 years of lobbying, the Writers' Guild of South Africa (WGSA) has finally secured its seat at the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds (IAWG).

At the 31st Annual General Meeting (AGM) in October hosted by the Writers Guild of America West in Los Angeles, America, the WGSA signed the Memorandum of Incorporation.

"This is a proud and historical moment for the Guild and for South African screenwriters because not only does it afford our writers protection when taking on international projects, but knowing that our Guild has the support of the IAWG and all its members also bolsters our efforts in fighting for the rights of our writers locally," says Khobi Ledwaba, WGSA chairperson.

"This is really big for us, and it certainly should inspire us to say that things can't just continue to be business as usual. We're now on a world stage and we need to do better."

The IAWG was established in 1986 to address the globalization of the entertainment industry and improve the working conditions of professional film and television writers worldwide through collective action, mutual support and common representation internationally.

Its member guilds work on behalf of 50 000 writers throughout the world in the areas of collective bargaining, standard contracts, credit disputes, government lobbying, and the promotion of the essential role of the writer as a creator in the film making process.

Membership of the IAWG is not open to individual screenwriters, but writers are represented at the affiliation by their home guilds.

"It's taken many years and the blood, sweat and tears of numerous Guild chairs, council members and executive officers like Thea Aboud and Nonkosi Slatsha to make this happen. When we were notified that the Memorandum of Incorporation was signed, there was hardly a dry eye in the room," says Harriet Meier, a previous chairperson of the WGSA.

The Writers' Guild of South Africa is working on hosting the WGA West early in 2018 to help with lobbying and negotiations with local broadcasters to ensure that South African writers are paid fair rates, rebroadcast fees and royalties, and to structure a Collection Agency that is on par with the rest of the world.

The WGA West has also offered their support in guiding the WGSA through the minefield that encompasses writing for digital and new media productions.

The WGSA was also selected to host the 2019 IAWG annual general meeting in South Africa.

This will bring some of the most powerful writers and writers' unions to South Africa in 2019 and the first time in its 31 year history that the IAWG will be coming to Africa.

This annual general meeting will run in conjunction with the WGSA Writers Festival.

"It's a huge achievement for the Writers' Guild of South Africa and an incredible moment for South African screenwriters - to be part of the international family of writers," says Thandi Brewer, first chairperson of the WGSA.