A message from Candace Long
(May 12, 2014)
As of this writing, I have been the NLAPW President all of two months. I do not come to you with a report of all I have done. Rather, I want to share with you why I chose to run for President…and my vision for the League. You see, I am not retired with nothing else to do. I am an active “creative,” who has been in the Arts & Entertainment sector over 40 years. I’ve written six screenplays, two musicals, three books, countless songs and produced a multimedia product line. I also have an active outreach schedule helping others understand what they were born to do. For me, it’s all about finding one’s unique calling. So…why did I feel called to take two years out of my life – with no pay – to lead NLAPW?
I believe we are in an unprecedented time in history…and that creative women have an innate giftedness to shift the cultural direction of our nation.
Sound lofty? Perhaps. But allow me to share why I believe this.
I lost almost everything producing my musical, A Time To Dance. We had a cast and crew of 58, and were about to take the show on the road…when our premiere date fell on September 11, 2001. I walked away from the experience broken and broke…and spent the next 3 years asking soul-searching questions about how to survive the creative journey.
What I learned changed my life.
The NLAPW Atlanta Branch welcomed me and nurtured me in my brokenness. Even more, their artistic gifts inspired me to create an entirely new body of work.
Pen Women Is Not A Club
We are women who are called to envision, and to bring forth that vision with excellence. We do not fit in other groups…and are often misunderstood. Family members think we are “out there.” We are rarely validated. We keep going because of an inner knowing that we are called to be a writer…a composer…an artist. We do what we do largely alone…so to find others who not only understand, but who have likewise survived this calling is a spiritual oasis! This camaraderie is critical to our internal well-being.
We often take this gift for granted. The gift is not what we DO…it is what we HEAR. When we see something, hear something, think something that makes us stop whatever we were going to do and devote months, sometimes years to it: that’s inspiration!
The key to success in our branches is how well we realize there are other women just like us in their community…doing what they do all alone…who simply need to be identified, and encouraged to see they are not alone.
Pen Women Was Given A Sacred Charge in 1897
We must remember our core mission. Our organization was formed not to meet the same people every month and have lunch. It was to give voice to the disenfranchised…the ones who need to be heard, using our unique artistic palettes. In 1897, women had NO voice. The League was formed to create new communication outlets for them. Why? Because these women knew they had something to say. When they finally did speak, what they said helped articulate the core values of our American way of life. We were a cultural force in the early 20th century. We can be again.
We must still look for those whose voices need to be heard. In 1985, I heard a young black woman sing a song a cappella for a theatrical audition where I was music director. There were no parts for black actors. At that moment, I had an a-ha moment that changed the course of my musical career. A Time To Dance became a vehicle to showcase undiscovered black talent. This project has been a through line in my creative journey for almost 30 years!
Looking back on it now, something deep within me heard that this was the time when our brothers and sisters of color needed to come center stage with their gifts. I was a Pen Woman before I even knew about NLAPW! That’s who we are. It is our cultural legacy. We were given a conservatorship of the creative gifting, of hearing what needs to be brought forth, and doing it. Did I see the big picture then? No. Do I see it now? Absolutely.
I am proud of the new board. These are capable and gifted women who have a heart to serve you. You will see two new board positions, which reflect two new initiatives:
Membership Chair: Pat Setser is working for greater inclusion of our Members At Large who often feel disconnected from branches. Toward that end, we are discussing regional workshops to encourage creative women in specific regions, and give them opportunities to be showcased. If your branch would consider hosting a one-day workshop, please contact me.
Entertainment Industry Liaison: Maureen Sappéy will chair a team of those on the board who have been involved in Film, Television & Live Theatre. These are important areas of cultural impact that can take the many wonderful books and stories of our members and catapult them to a whole new industry. We will be exploring ways to help you understand how to navigate the entertainment industry, and how to tap into other income streams such as royalties, licensing fees, synchronization rights, etc. We will use our webinar format, the magazine and regional workshops to mentor others in “How To Do Business in Hollywood.”
At our recent June board meeting, I am thrilled to report that we have adopted a balanced budget for the first time in I don’t remember when! Many thanks to Treasurer, Dr. Evelyn Wofford, and our dedicated Finance Committee for their diligent oversight.
The owl has left its perch and is in flight…calling us to our greatest work!
National President, 2014-2016