Choosing the right performers is not only one of the most exciting aspects of organizing an event, it is also one of the most important. Fortunately, there are measures that you, as a presenter, can take to ensure that your programming choices have the greatest chance of success. A good way to maximize turnout is by actively engaging the community. Reach out to other individuals and groups for help planning and promoting your event. Many organizations find it beneficial to create “artist selection committees” that represent the diversity of tastes and backgrounds found within the community. This enables the presenter to choose performances that appeal to a broad audience. It’s also important to reflect critically on your plans. Do you expect there is interest in your community for this type of performance? Are other organizations already meeting the demand for this type of event? Do you have the technical and venue requirements necessary to host this show? Asking these questions will help you maintain realistic expectations.
Whether you are an artist or a presenter, successful negotiations are key to ensuring your needs are met. Typically, the negotiation process begins with the presenter contacting the artist (or representative) to make an offer. It is during this initial stage when details such as dates and artist fees are agreed upon. When organizing a performance you may not know how much to pay an artist. To get a better idea, you can check out CARFAC's Suggested Fee Schedule. This gives presenters an idea of best practice rate in the industry. Don’t give up if you are concerned you can't afford a particular artist, many performers have flexible rates.
Following negotiations, the presenter will create a contract that includes all the agreed upon terms in addition to any other pertinent details. The artist has until the stipulated expiration date to accept, decline, or amend the contract.
A basic contract should include:
- The names and addresses of the parties involved.
- What you want the artist to do.
- Where the event will be held.
- When (date and time) the presentation will take place.
- The length of the performance and intermission periods.
- How much the artist will be paid and any expenses that will be covered.
- When the payment will be processed (as many artists require a portion in advance).
- What type promotion you plan to do.
- Whether the artist will be required to do interviews.
- The type of promotional materials required from the artist (headshot, bio, etc.).
- Pertinent venue details (are there dressing rooms? private washrooms?).
- What technical equipment you can provide.
- An act of God clause
- A language clause
- Any other important details
Please check out our sample contract.
For more information on programming, negotiating or contracts, please refer to the Canada Council’s Presenter’s Handbook.