Performer Contracts – Know What You Want and When (Khandie’s Kholumn)

How many of us book those last minute gigs and the idea of sending a contract beforehand just seems too much hassle? Or how many of us actually chase for the signed copy (that can be electronically signed too)? Or how many of us actually use them?

A contract is an agreement between yourself and your employer, be it for one performance or even fifty. A contract is worth its weight in gold, glitter and chocolate.

I strongly believe no one should be working without some contractual cover. An email can form a contract but sometimes it is best to collate all the information in one place and on one document to ensure all parties involved know what the deal is.

A contract is a legal document. That is right brothers and sisters of the glitter realm: IT’S LEGAL. It’s binding like chewing gum in your barnet. Breaking contract can be costly and a pain the ass whether you or your client do the damage. A broken clause in a contract can prevent you from being paid, or worse yet, incur a fine. I mean it. Some contracts even have clauses for the fines to be implemented if all other clauses are not adhered to.

Khandie Khisses: Burlesque Performer Contracts
On set, my performer contract demanded a Hollywood producer follow me about. It worked. I got Dave.

My favourite clause in my own contract is my cancellation clause. If a client cancels me within a certain time period, they don’t pay me anything. However, the closer to the event, the more they have to pay in a percentage of my final fee. I had to put this in after so many shows started to be cancelled without notice. Also not to mention a few promoters who hire performers and then decide not to use them on arrival. Yeah, that old chestnut: ‘Sorry, I overbooked.’

A contract can also lay out what you expect. Do you want a secure room to get changed in? No? Okay, toilets for you then. Do you want to be paid within fourteen days of the show? No? Okay, when hell freezes over then. How about that fee? Here, have half of the amount. Plus, I am going to sell images I take of you, and you don’t want a cut of that, obviously.

Performer contracts lay out what you want, expect and need from the client and vice versa. Performer contracts can be negotiated, but once signed, they are to be adhered to or face consequences. Yes, it can be a ball ache to send them out, chase them and rewrite them, but believe me when I say they are well worth it. I take a copy of the signed contract with me to all gigs, for the times when I have been told ‘I’ll do a bank transfer on Tuesday’ when payment on the night was agreed, or the sudden lack of travel money included.

Equity offer contracts for use via their membership benefits. They are DAMN good. This alone makes membership worth it. Not to mention drafting your own can be hard and can work out very expensive if you choose to outsource.

A basic contract needs to state who you are (legal name), who the client is and what is expected of you as well as where. It should also state what you expect from the client. The contract needs to be signed and dated. An electronic signature is as legally binding so that is worth noting.

If you want to be professional, you need a contract. A contract that is adaptable but also enforceable. Don’t mess about with your work or that of others. The contract covers both parties so be sure you know what the terms and conditions are. We all gotta play in the limelight together.

Khandie Khisses

Further Reading and Examples

For Equity Members: Standard Contract for Burlesque Engagements 2012

Princess Farhana: Takin’ Care Of Business: Dance Performance Contracts (Includes sample contract)



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