Not all contracts are written in legalese. As long as it defines the project, a contract can be a simple, one page document.
According to the Arts Law Centre of Australia, a contract "consists of an exchange of promises ("something for something") that is legally enforceable."
A performer - presenter agreement should be signed by each party and at a minimum include the following:
- Who: The legal identity of each party, including key contact person, business name, postal address, email address, phone number and ABN
- What: What is agreed (eg the show name, producing company name, date and time of performance, venue name and address, bump in and bump out times)
- Responsibilities: Does each party have a duty to provide elements (eg, technical requirements, crew, marketing etc)
- Value: Performance fee, box office split, and/or venue hire (note whether prices are including or excluding GST)
- Conditions: What happens if there is a change of plans or cancellation.
The Arts Law Centre of Australia is a not-for-profit company and the website has free resources including information sheets, checklists, and articles. The website also has sample agreements for purchase.
A great article on the Arts Law site we recommend reading is 'Allocating risk through contracts - it's an art!' - it discusses indemnity, insurance and what you should do when presented with a contract.
Giovanni Porta is a lawyer and musician and in August 2015 he stopped by the arTour office to share his knowledge on contracts during a little lunch webinar.
Giovanni points out that "artists are not generally inclined to take on the business side" but stresses that "it is something that you need to do which will set you up well for your endeavours." In the 50min webinar, he talks about contracting basics, and frequently relates it back to his experience as a musician and advice he has provided as a qualified lawyer to other arts workers.
Another informative resource recently issued by Arts Queensland on the ArtsEngage blog is 'Contracts, insurance and copyright - knowing your legal rights and obligations'.
This contracts resource is intended to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest for arTour presenters and performers. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. We encourage you to seek your own independent professional advice.