Professional standards often include ethical standards, standards of practice and professional frameworks. They are frequently discipline specific. They describe the goals, principles and aspirations of professionals working within that discipline and cover both the rights and responsibilities of those professionals. Often these are created by professional associations and unions.
It is important to know that these standards cannot override provincial labour laws.
You should consider and detail these items in your engagement contracts.
Minimum rates are the minimum wage of the discipline. Artists don’t often work in the same ways as labour laws were created. Because of that, these minimum rates define what is considered minimum wage by the industry. These are just the minimum rates, you are absolutely welcome to pay your performers more than the amounts stated should you choose to do so.
There are often different minimum rates for hourly, weekly and exclusive engagements. An hourly engagement will often have a minimum call time, such as three hours. A weekly engagement could be for 5-6 days a week. An exclusive engagement is often weekly but does not allow the artist to have other work during that time, as such exclusive engagements are often paid more.
|Organizations that publish minimum rates
|Canadian Actors Equity (CAEA)
|Film & TV Performer
|American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM)
|Canadian League of Composers
|International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE)
|Theatre Designers (set, costume, lighting, projection and sound designers)
|Associated Designers of Canada (ADC)
|Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA)
|Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC)
|Speaking Engagement Fees (all disciplines)
|Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC)
These are sums of money (flat fee or percentage) that are negotiated for a creator when their creation is shared in subsequent events such as a playwright or designer. Read more here.
These standards outline when you must be given your work schedule and what amount of notice must be given for it to change.
This will outline the hours of work within a day and/or week.
Breaks will vary by discipline. Many disciplines require more breaks than mandated by provincial labour laws.
There may be different work provisions outlined for rehearsal and performance. For example, some disciplines will include warm-up periods before a performance and some will not.
There may also be other activities such as costume fittings, photo calls, notes sessions, technical sessions, production meetings, hair and makeup calls, etc. These may occur within the rehearsal hours.
This is the time at which you must arrive at work before the activity is starting.
Some professional standards have provisions for allowing absences such as illness - others do not. It is important to know if absences will be paid.
Overtime is time in addition to what is normal; time worked beyond one's scheduled working hours. There may be different rules on when overtime is required, how the artist is asked to work overtime, and how they are compensated for the additional time.
All engagers must offer a safe and sanitary work environment. This includes everything from first aid supplies and individuals with first aid training, to a clean environment, appropriate ventilation, temperature, lighting, waste disposal, washing facilities, drinking water, etc. This also includes the assurance that people with disabilities are safe and able to access all health and safety measures.
In BC there is an organization focused on these standards called Actsafe Safety Association. They publish many guidelines on entertainment industries and keeping workers safe.
The workplace should carry General Liability Insurance which covers bodily injury and property damage to third parties arising from your workplace, operations, products, and completed operations. This may not include an artist on the job. Find out if there is workplace safety insurance in place as well, such as WSIB and/or alternative workplace safety insurance and /or third-party liability coverage.
In the performing arts, the spaces you work in are especially important. The space you rehearse and perform in must meet building code standards and should be equipped with the proper equipment and be large enough for the performance that it is intended for. For example, a dance performance should have larger space requirements due to the movement that dancers perform; a small, closed space would not be suitable for a dance rehearsal or performance. Performance space must also be accessible for all performers with disabilities.
The floor surface is an important consideration. For example, dance artists may refuse to work on a concrete surface and require a wooden, sprung floor with a Marley floor surface.
The temperature can be a major consideration for some disciplines.
- Surface Temperature - This will reference the temperature range allowed for the surface that the artists are working on.
- Air Temperature - This references the temperature range allowed for the air temperature.
Performers should have access to a closed dressing room, and all workers must have access to washroom facilities. When looking at venues, make sure to take into consideration what needs your company members may have in regards to requirements/comfort in sharing dressing rooms as well as accessibility for all. This is particularly tricky when working in a non-traditional venue.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act should be taken into consideration for all workplace environment matters. It is required that the standards set out in this act be in effect and implemented to ensure that spaces are accessible for all performers, staff and patrons.
All individuals have the right to work in an environment free of harassment and discrimination. Some disciplines will have specific processes for how to keep the workplace free of harassment and discrimination, and some disciplines will have internal processes for how to make a complaint. It is important that these processes are in place and that the entire team is made aware of how to proceed should there be an instance of harassment and/or discrimination.
All employees at all times have the right to refuse unsafe work.
Here is a useful guide for each province.
It is important to know what transportation methods are being used. If you are touring in a vehicle, what processes are being used to ensure its safety?
This will outline where you are staying and what is being covered. This may be covered fully or offered as an amount per day.
This is the daily allowance given per day to cover living expenses when traveling for work. The CRA publishes an amount annually for travel within Canada and Internationally. This may be taxable income.
Like with Schedule Notice and Changes, this outlines when the schedule is given to the artists and how much notice is required for a change.
This will outline if travel and health insurance are required, in what amounts and who is responsible for securing and paying for the coverage.
When travelling abroad visas and permits may be required. This will outline timelines and who is responsible for securing and paying, when applicable.
Travel should be considered part of the work day. There should be guidelines outlining the amount of travel plus rehearsal and/or performance in a day and the breaks between travel and performing.
Sometimes a process will have elements that go above and beyond the normal workplace. These could include heights, working on surfaces outside of the professional standards or fire. In these circumstances, you may be given additional equipment as part of the agreement.
Each engager should include a process by which disputes will be resolved.
No artist is required to participate in activities that make them feel unsafe or work outside of their values. Often when a performance deals with sex, nudity and/or obscenity there will be a process discussed in advance of rehearsal starting. Some disciplines have a specific process around it.
This may mean recording a section or item that will be played during the production in a variety of ways (audio, video, photograph)
This may mean sections of the production that are recorded and used to promote the show or recordings that are done to preserve the production for documentation, revival and funding purposes.
How your work will be listed in any publicity or program can be negotiated in advance. This may be particularly important for artists who are working with royalties as credit in future programs may also want to be noted.
- Canadian Dance Assembly (CDA) - CDA offers a comprehensive list of resources for standard wages and minimum fees for dance artists.
- Jessica Hische created an invaluable Client Email Helper that generates email responses to help you say “no” to free and low-budget work and to help ask for more favourable contract terms before the start of a project.
- The Urban Worker Project has created a Wage Calculator which converts your full-time, annual salary as an employee into an estimated freelance hourly rate. It also will factor in invisible expenses like office space, time off, and benefits.
- 2017 National Compensation Study for Managerial and Administrative Positions in Not-for-Profit Arts Organizations by the Canada Council for the Arts provided key findings on the wages, benefits, and work arrangements for arts workers.