Unions for dancers defined – Dance Informa Journal


Unions are having a second, as they are saying, in the US. Within the arts, that union exercise consists of the SAG-AFTRA and (just lately resolved) WGA strikes. There are numerous completely different unions that serve dance artists. Every covers completely different corners of the dance sector, and every has barely completely different guidelines and rules. There are numerous completely different lengthy names and acronyms. It’s simple to get confused and have many questions: do I be a part of, do I’ve to affix, which union do I be a part of, and what can I anticipate? 

First issues first: why be a part of a union, you might ask? Unions assist maintain everybody concerned (each performers and their employers) clear on performers’ rights — in fee and in advantages reminiscent of healthcare, working situations and past. They permit for “collective bargaining”, a flowery phrase for employees (sure, artists) coming collectively to barter for his or her rights

If artists collectively determine to ask for extra, they’ll – and strike, if it involves that. Moreover, unions are solely as impactful as how a lot members communicate up once they’re encountering contract violations; enforcement issues. Dancers realize it intuitively: we’re stronger collectively. 

Ought to I be a part of? Union perks and disadvantages 

It’s additionally vital to acknowledge tradeoffs that include union membership. There are utility charges and common dues. Some unions additionally prohibit taking non-union work. Putting can include durations of being barred from working (to notice: efforts to assist artists by these durations do usually emerge). 

For these tradeoffs, one receives useful protections – reminiscent of requirements in pay and dealing situations, in addition to battle decision and different authorized protections. Union membership additionally comes with varied perks, relying on the union: unique auditions, healthcare protection and reductions on important providers, for instance. 

Let’s have a look at the specifics of every U.S.-based union that represents dancers. 

American Guild of Musical Artists: AGMA (musicalartists.org

Is it for me? 

AGMA members are “singers, dancers and staging workers in opera, live performance dance and live performance choral efficiency.” For those who’re in a live performance dance firm or dance in operas, that is your union! 

Above and past collective bargaining, do I get any particular perks? 

AGMA membership comes with quite a lot of advantages in finance, auto and healthcare. As a way to help fellow members experiencing monetary issue, members can contribute to the AGMA Aid Fund. Ought to members expertise monetary hardship, these funds are there to assist. 

How and when do I be a part of? 

One can apply to affix AGMA when working beneath an AGMA contract. That comes with which firm or undertaking you’re working for. 

As a member, can I do non-union work? 

AGMA permits its members to work beneath non-union contracts “inside its jurisdiction” (in different phrases, the sub-sector of the humanities and leisure sector that it covers). 

Actors’ Fairness Affiliation: AEA (actorsequity.org)

Is it for me? 

Actors’ Fairness represents all stage actors and performers – so in case you’re dancing in a musical or different theatrical manufacturing/undertaking, this union can signify you. 

How and when do I be a part of? 

Underneath Fairness Open Entry, any performer or stage supervisor who has been paid to work on a manufacturing in the US can apply to affix AEA. 

Are there any particular perks?

AEA classifies its advantages as contract advantages (reminiscent of minimal pay and dealing situation requirements, in addition to medical insurance and battle mediation) and membership advantages (together with member reductions, seminars and particular occasions, and tax help). 

As a member, can I do non-union work?

AEA members usually are not permitted to work beneath non-Fairness contracts or for non-Fairness theaters. 

Display Actors Guild – American Federation of Tv and Radio Artists: SAG-AFTRA (sagaftra.org)

Is it for me? 

SAG-AFTRA represents performers “in movie and digital movement footage, tv packages, commercials, video video games, company/instructional and non-broadcast productions, new media, tv and radio information retailers, in addition to main label recording artists.” For those who’re dancing in movie, tv or music movies, or doing movement seize for a online game, this union is for you! 

Are there any particular perks? 

SAG-AFTRA members who earn at or above a minimal wage on “SAG-AFTRA lined employment” are entitled to the SAG-AFTRA Well being Plan. Different perks embody pension plans and an unique casting database. 

How and when do I be a part of? 

Potential members should meet particular eligibility necessities: “proof of SAG-AFTRA, SAG or AFTRA lined employment as a principal performer…; proof of three days of SAG-AFTRA, SAG or AFTRA employment as a background actor; or employment beneath an affiliated performers’ union.” It’s extra concerning the tasks you’re engaged on than merely deciding to affix. 

As a member, can I do non-union work?

Working beneath a non-union contract as a member can result in fines and even expulsion from the union. One can work on a non-union undertaking, nonetheless, if the producer agrees to them working beneath a union contract (making the producer a “signatory” – and, apparently, that’s truly one thing that the union encourages). 

American Guild of Selection Artists: AGVA (agvausa.com

Is it for me? 

AGVA members embody dancers who dance in theme parks, non-book touring exhibits (in different phrases, musicals with out dialogue), cabarets/golf equipment, and for “personal events and particular occasions.” Dancers who work as acrobats in circuses additionally fall beneath AGVA’s jurisdiction. 

Are there any particular member perks?

AGVA member “perks” embody medical insurance, the AGVA Sick and Aid Fund (for members who expertise monetary hardship), and unique auditions. 

How and when do I be a part of? 

AGVA membership comes with signing an AGVA contract (for an AGVA venue or undertaking). Performers can also apply to affix as an Unbiased Selection Artist or as an artist who self-produces “exhibits and appearances.” 

As a member, can I do non-union work?

This data is a bit laborious to search out – however one supply affirms that typically, sure. “AGVA serves to help its members’ careers and financial livelihoods” – so it doesn’t wish to impede members from acquiring gainful employment or constructing their careers, in any nook of the leisure trade. 

Works referenced:

Dance Unions 101: What You Must Know In regards to the Dance World’s Employee Organizations

Unions for Dancers 

Ought to Freelance Dancers Have a Union?

Can SAG-AFTRA Members Work Non-Union Jobs?

By Kathryn Boland of Dance Informa.


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