Three-time Academy Award-winning songwriter Marilyn Bergman today announced her decision to step down as President and Chairman of the Board of ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). Her successor will be elected by the ASCAP Board of Directors during their next meeting later this month.
Bergman was the first woman to be elected to the ASCAP Board of Directors and was named President and Chairman of the Board in 1994. She will continue to serve as an active Board Member.
Commenting on her decision, Bergman said: "I am grateful to have had the honor of serving as the President and Chairman of ASCAP for 15 years, and am exceedingly proud of all that was accomplished during my tenure. I will continue to be a passionate advocate for all music creators through my work on the ASCAP Board of Directors. But in terms of the Presidency itself, I see that now is the right time to step down."
Bergman noted that she and her writing partner and husband, Academy Award-winning songwriter Alan Bergman, have a number of new projects in the works which require her focus. "Alan has always been supportive of the time that my ASCAP Presidency required. But with so much exciting work before us, I feel it's time that I fully devote myself to my first calling: writing. So I look forward to shifting my energy back to our work, while having the privilege to continue to serve ASCAP and my fellow music creators."
The Bergmans have just completed work on Steven Soderbergh's film, The Informant, with composer Marvin Hamlisch, and are currently working on two musical theatre projects, one with Marvin and one with Michel Legrand. They are also at work on Visions of America: A Photo Symphony Celebrating the Sites and Songs of Democracy with renowned photographer Joseph Sohm and composer Roger Kellaway. This was premiered at the Kimmel Center-Verizon Hall on January 25, 2009 in Philadelphia with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops.
A Strong Legacy of Advocacy, Education and Growth
Bergman’s 15-year tenure as President and Chairman of the Board of ASCAP was marked by a series of noteworthy achievements, all of which have had a positive and lasting impact on music creators.
As a passionate voice for the rights of music creators, Bergman has a strong presence on Capitol Hill. She helped lead ASCAP to several major legislative victories, including most notably the Supreme Court’s decision in 2003 to uphold the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, which extended copyright protection an extra 20 years – to the life of the author plus 70 years. Other legislative highlights include:
Helming ASCAP through the modernization of the Federal consent decree that governs ASCAP’s operations.
Leading ASCAP’s lobbying effort that helped secure the passage and signing of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998 – bringing the U.S. into line with World Intellectual Property Organization treaties and strengthening music copyrights on the Internet.
Serving on the National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIIAC) from 1994 to 1995, at the request of Vice President Al Gore.
Serving two terms (from 1994 to 1998) as President of CISAC, the International Confederation of Performing Right Societies.
Most recently, Bergman played a key role in the launch of A Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers, an ASCAP advocacy and awareness-building initiative designed to remind the public, the music industry and Members of Congress of the central role and rights of those who create music.
Bergman was also instrumental in the launch of the ASCAP "I Create Music" EXPO, the premier conference for songwriters, composers and producers. The 4th annual EXPO is set to take place at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, April 23-25, 2009.
She has also been a strong supporter of educating young people about the creative process and the rights inherent in the creation of music. Programs established under her leadership include:
"The ASCAP Foundation Children Will Listen Program" – created in honor of ASCAP member and musical theatre great Stephen Sondheim (West Side Story, Gypsy!, Pacific Overtures, A Little Night Music) to provide the musical theatre experience to a generation of students who might not otherwise have this opportunity.
"The ASCAP Foundation Creativity in the Classroom Program" – designed to help students recognize their own creative work, to understand their rights as owners of intellectual property and to respect the ethics of protecting the creative property of others.
"The Donny the Downloader Experience" in partnership with i-SAFE Inc., the worldwide leader in Internet safety education – an interactive school assembly program aimed at educating middle school students on what it means to be a music creator and the real cost of music piracy.
"The Junior ASCAP Members (J.A.M.) Program" in partnership with MENC: The National Association for Music Education – created to support and nurture music students, and to educate them on the value of music and the importance of intellectual property rights.
She also supported the development of The ASCAP Foundation/Lilith Fair Songwriting Contest – a national competition designed to encourage unsigned women songwriters, co-sponsored by The ASCAP Foundation and Lilith Fair.
"From the moment she assumed the role of President and Chairman of the Board, Marilyn worked tirelessly on behalf of our membership to the benefit of all music creators," said John LoFrumento, CEO of ASCAP. "She has been tremendously effective in helping ASCAP anticipate the changing needs of our members – particularly given the immense shifts that have occurred in music, technology and society as a whole over the past decade. I will greatly miss the insights and collaborative spirit that she brought to our working relationship. But I am comforted to know that Marilyn will remain a strong and active presence on our Board of Directors."
Bergman presided over the largest expansion of ASCAP membership in the history of the organization – growing from 55,000 when she assumed the Presidency in 1994 to a current membership of more than 350,000 music creators.
Her full biography may be viewed here: http://www.ascap.com/about/board/bergman-bio.html