Friday, June 3, 2016

Did you know - contracting deadlines

As of the recently renewed CTA and ITA agreements, new provisions have been added to ensure contracts go out to the artists in a timely manner. These join a number of existing rules for executing and signing contracts. Here are the terms currently in effect:
  1. 35:08  Execution of Engagement Contracts
    1. (A)  Issuing Of
      When the Theatre confirms to the Artist that agreement has been reached on the negotiated terms for an upcoming engagement, the Theatre shall issue a CTA Engagement Contract to the Artist within ten (10) business days. In any event an Artist must receive his/her CTA Engagement Contract no later than twenty (20) business days prior to the start date of his/her engagement.
      This provision does not apply to activities contracted under Article 56:00 or
      Article 57:00 in which the contracted engagement period is less than two weeks.
    2. (B)  Signing Of
      Unless contracts are signed concurrently, they must be signed first by the Theatre. If the contract is not signed concurrently the Theatre may in writing at the time of sending the contract to the Artist notify the Artist that unless the contract is signed and returned or postmarked, by the Artist to the Theatre within ten (10) business days (Saturday, Sunday and holidays excluded) after receipt thereof by the Artist, the offer of engagement is withdrawn and the contract shall be null and void. 
So, the long and the short of the recent changes is that CTA and ITA engagers now have a new obligation to issue contracts promptly following agreement upon terms, and contracts must reach the artist 20 days before the engagement begins. Except for certain small-scale projects, that means no more signing contracts on the first day.

As always, engagers are also prohibited from sending unsigned contracts to an artist for them to sign first. The engager must sign the contract before the artist, in order to confirm the terms being offered.

And, of course, artists have their obligations, too. If the contract is being sent out to you for signing, you may have only 10 days in which to do so and return it. If you don't get the contract back in time, the engager has the ability to withdraw the offer. Note, however, that the engager must specifically inform you of this time restriction; it does not apply automatically.

If you work under agreements other than the CTA and ITA, different rules may be in place. Opera and ballet agreements each have their own deadlines.

Remember, it you are working under the CTA, ITA, ballet or opera agreements and your contract is late arriving to you or your agent, please call staff for assistance. If an engager is not meeting the deadlines, staff can't address the situation unless they know about it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Update on the Council Focus Survey

Thank you to all the members who filled our Council Focus Survey back in October and November of last year. Your input is very valuable to us and is the basis for our strategic planning.

Council has begun the work of winnowing through the various submissions and assigning them for action. We tackled the first nine topics at our most recent meeting, and would like you to know what's up.

First up are issues focussing on diversity and inclusivity. Council already has a Diversity Committee on the go (Minh Ly is the liaison) and they have been provided with the contact info for those of you who expressed an interest in the subject. Greater opportunity and more diversity onstage were the big topics here, and the committee will also be doing follow up work from last term's Census, turning data into action.

In response to the stage management submissions, Council has renewed the SM Committee (Kate Sandeson will be the liaison), and they expect to be up and running again shortly. If you provided contact info in relation to this topic, that has now been passed on to the committee for outreach. Issues surrounding apprenticeships dominated the submissions, and that will likely be an early focus of their discussion.

There were quite a few submissions dealing with indie theatre, although spread across a range of aspects. Member education and general calls for support were two of the big topics identified. In order to get a bit more focus for any future committee work, liaisons Katey Wright and Jaron Francis will be getting in touch with members who provided contact info, and then report back to Council with a more concrete proposal for action.

Improvement to the insurance plan remains an ongoing topic, and Council has asked staff to prepare a  report on the various topics addressed in the submissions. We'll be reviewing that in February.

Calls for a greater partnership with ACTRA was next up in terms of submissions, and those comments will be shared with the Council committee already dealing with that. The liaison for that group is Allan Teichman.

Not far behind were a range of comments on member engagement and involvement. Sedina Fiati is Council's point person for that work, and contact info has been passed to her for outreach as she gets going on the topic.

As with the last term, a range of opera issues have been brought forward, and Peter MicGillivray will be heading up that committee as it gets going.  Contact info has been passed on from those survey participants who asked that we share the info.

Members also flagged a number of issues dealing with work on contract. These have been passed over to staff for the negotiation and review file, and they will also be providing follow-up to Council at a later meeting.

The last topic we tackled was advocacy and lobbying. As with some of the other issues, there was a range of things identified. Council has asked for more status info from staff on current advocacy initiatives, and they will report on that in February.

More to come as we tackle the next slice of survey responses in February. As always, we are open to your ideas any time of the year. If you have any feedback or thoughts on these issues or any other, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Monday, December 14, 2015

And so we begin!

It was like the first day of school. Equity's new Council met for the first time in Toronto. We had our binder, lots of paper, our hopes, our fears, our areas of utter confusion. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I'd hope to make a new friend or two and that there would be snacks. Both goals were achieved!

The first two days were spent with our lively and very well informed instructor, Susan Mogensen of Brown Dog Consulting,  who taught us all about Policy Governance, which is what we use as our governance model. We learned while twisting pipe cleaners into artistic creations, arguing over finer points and smaller group chats. What is Policy Governance you ask? Well, to break it down, it's all about creating concrete vision statements (called Ends) and then making sure all the activities of our organization (called Means) are both appropriate and direct toward achieving the Ends. It keeps us all accountable and making sure what we plan to do fits within the vision for the organization. So, um, now we know how to continue to make Equity great, in theory anyway.

Then the Council business began. Could we new Councillors start to use what we had learned from Susan? Would there still be snacks? The previous Councillors led the way with motions and more motions, and maybe a few emotions. We elected our president (Allan Teichman is back!), 1st Vice President (Katey Wright), Second Vice President (yours truly, Sedina Fiati) and Secretary/Treasurer (Scott Bellis). Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to get to work. There is so much to do! I know I am reading the reports of the previous term, going over that Council Focus survey and dreaming up ideas for the next 3 years.

If there is one thing I want to achieve, it is getting the members more involved, more than surveys, more than Facebook commenting. It's time get "old school" and start doing things face to face again. I know sometimes we can feel powerless in this industry, but we should all feel ownership over Equity. This is our association and we are a family. Like any family, we don't always have to agree, but to create a healthy dynamic, we should address issues that come up and stand in solidarity with each other. 

This new Council is truly a fabulous group of people who are ready to hit the ground running, so expect some initiatives to start happening really soon. Please keep us accountable by sending us your ideas, feedback and concerns via email, social media, contacting our Executive Director Arden Ryshpan, sending a smoke signal, carrier pigeon or Game of Thrones raven. Hey, even send us a ye olde mail letter or package. I for one would love holiday cookies (the actual cookies, not the cookie tin with sewing supplies), Pot of Gold chocolates (please remove the cherry ones) or your annual family holiday card (bonus points for matching sweaters). I look forward to serving you as Second Vice President. Cheers to a new term.

Sedina Fiati
Equity Councillor (Ontario)
Second Vice President
Lover of Cookies

Friday, December 4, 2015

Council Focus Survey Summary

In prep for the inaugural meeting, Council got its first look at the detailed Council Focus survey results. We still have to work our way through them, but we wanted to share the overall picture with you right away.

304 submissions were received from a total of 213 members, which is almost an identical participation rate from the last time we did this. Up to three suggestions were solicited per response – just less than half of submissions included at least two, and one-quarter included three. About one-third of the respondents indicated that they would be willing to be contacted in regards to their submissions, which means we have access to even more detail, if needed.

Each submission was assigned a short topic heading based on the main point being made. Then, related and compatible categories were combined – the top two suggestions are good examples of this.

Here are the results ranked by frequency.

Inclusivity (diversity) 45
Stage management issues 32
Indie theatre 29
Insurance 20
ACTRA (partnership with) 18
Member Engagement and Involvement 13
Opera 13
Engagements (general) 12
Advocacy 11
Rehearsal issues 9
Engagements (terms) 9
Fees 8
Jobs 8
Scale agreements 7
Regional issues 6
Governance 6
Touring 5
Seniors 5
Respectful workplaces 5
Digital Media 5
Auditions 5
Visioning  for the future 4
Communications 3
Career transition 3
Understudy 2
U.S. work  2
Safety at work 2
Promotion of the Artist 2
Professional development  2
Mentorship 2
Joining 2
Engagers 2
Elections 2
Dues 2
Audiences 2
Volunteer shows 1
Staff 1
Showcase opportunities 1
Script development 1
Reciprocity 1
Engager education 1
Employment insurance 1
Member Service 1
Benefits and Fundraisers  1

General comments were also requested at the end of the survey, and we received 49 of these.

Council will be reviewing the overall patterns in these results as a priority item and making a determination on which topics to target over the course of the term. Members can also expect to see some committees formed early in the new year to tackle major issues.

As always, we welcome your comment and feedback. You can contact me at, or Katey Wright, Second Vice-president at, or either of us through the national office.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Equity Council Elections and Focus Survey

Once you've finished casting your ballot in the Federal election, don't forget to cast your ballot in Equity elections! Voting closes October 30.

And, while you're at it, don't forget to contribute to our Council Focus survey. How do we know what's important to the membership? You tell us.

Finally, just in case you might be thinking "Council, what??", here is a link to some useful topics on Council basics. Everything you ever wanted to know, and then some.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Equity work patterns over time - 2015 update

Every year, staff prepares a report on work weeks from the previous year, and a condensed version appears in the EQ from time to time. There are certainly lots of numbers to sift through, but statistics are nothing without context – a comparison of those numbers over time. Are they climbing, declining, or staying steady?

In an effort to provide some of that context, I started charting the workweek numbers a few years ago, and here is what the picture looks like as of mid 2015:

Work weeks over time
Note: the reporting period changed from calendar to fiscal in 2011, and Jan-Mar 2011 is not reflected in this chart.

Over the past thirteen reporting periods, the typical year has generally hovered around and above 70,000 work weeks for our members - that's the bold red line at the top. Contracts under the CTA and ITA make up about two-thirds of that. 

It's a bit hard to make out at this scale, but the cluster of lines immediately below the 10K mark are opera, dance and guest artist, all roughly at the same 6-7,000 level. Opera and guest artist have stayed pretty steady, but due in large part to the welcoming of the artists at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens into our membership, the dance number has risen over the past two years. 

Below that group, the orange line represents small scale and indie projects of all types, which have also seen a significant increase in the past several years. 

Finally, the line right at the bottom is actually two lines: amateur and other (a grab bag of miscellaneous engagements), both of which only account for a few hundred work weeks annually.

Although this year is down slightly from last year's record high, the trend is still very positive, and it will be interesting to see what next year holds in store.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Equity Census - Every Member Counts

Council is currently conducting a Census of the membership, and it’s important that you participate.

Back in 2007, Council initiated the most comprehensive survey of our membership that we have ever done. Response was excellent, and Council has been relying on those results to shape our work for close to a decade now.

One of the most critical elements of that research was Equity’s first foray into developing a detailed picture of the rich diversity of our membership, including information on family and dependants, details of heritage and ethnicity, and physical challenges. These are all areas of some sensitivity, and we were delighted with the generosity the membership showed in sharing their details. Members spoke freely to all these topics, and over 90% of respondents agreed to provide us with ethnic and heritage identity information, well beyond our most optimistic hopes.

So, why are we coming back to the membership on the same topics again? Well, two reasons. 

First, that information was a snapshot of the membership in 2007. Since then we have welcomed over 2000 new artists. Our membership is no longer the same membership it was then, and we want to keep our knowledge current.

The second is more forward-looking, and takes us well beyond the realm of snapshots. This new census research asks for your permission to securely store the identity information you provide, so that we can keep our knowledge current on a continuous basis. 

As Equity works to improve how it helps its members face their career challenges, we need to be able to assess, in real time, whether things are improving or not.

As well, every year we make submissions to a range of governmental and other bodies on how to help and encourage the live performance industry to promote full diversity on Canada’s stages. For this work to have its greatest effect, we need to be able to state with confidence how things are now, and how things have changed, and identify specific places where greater effort is needed. Just as importantly, we need to be able to recognise where best efforts aren’t working, and change tactics to suit.

In short, the whole industry needs to move beyond making choices and hoping they work.

Your contribution to the Equity Census will give us those real-time tools, and everybody’s response is needed to provide the fullest possible picture.

The Equity Census closes this Friday. If you haven’t already done so, please take 10 minutes of your time today, to help us help you for the next 10 years.

Visit for details on how to participate.

Every member counts.