Friday, July 25, 2008

C.T.A. Part 1

Or should I join Equity or not. Well that is the question for many new actors coming into the business. And sometimes one even has a choice about it but often, due to an interesting set of alliances, there are no choices.

First some background. Many times we talk of getting or signing an Equity contract. And indeed there are actual Equity contracts. The Independent Artists Projects Policy, Small Scale Theatre Addendum or Guest Artist Policy contracts are a few examples. The main agreement is the Canadian Theatre Agreement that is negotiated every three years by P.A.C.T {Professional Association of Canadian Theatres} and Equity {Canadian Actors Equity Association}. If you have your copy of the CTA handy take a look at the back cover and see how the word “Professional” is misspelled. Simple typo or editorial commentary? Who knows.

Most of the venued companies in the country are PACT members and therefore operate under the CTA. And so since this is a negotiated agreement we should stop skewing our view of it and properly call it a CTA contract. That way the praise or blame for what is in there can be evenly distributed.

Once you willingly or forcibly join Equity you can never really leave. Until it was changed a few years back Equity used your S.I.N. as your RRSP Contribution number. So theoretically if you resigned they would have to cancel your RRSP which would in effect stop them ever using your S.I.N. again as an identifier if you ever re-joined. I’m not sure the S.I.N. was ever intended to be used in such a way but there you have it. I think that then a decision was made that even if you resigned you could not completely collapse your RRSP. 10% always had to be left in. That way it stayed open, your S.I.N was still linked and operational and you were still an Equity member. Thus whatever your life choices were after that you were still supposed to operate under the rules of the organization. Real life Hotel California

In recent years the S.I.N. was de-linked and everyone was issued an Equity# but I am still not sure if you can withdraw 100% of your RRSP upon resigning.

Once you have joined Equity as a full member your work choices both broaden and diminish. They broaden because there are all those wonderful PACT houses that you are now available to work in. And diminish because if, for example, you fit into the definition of culturally diverse then your opportunities for work just dropped.

More on this in C.T.A. Part 2

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