Praxis Theatre is currently on hiatus! Please find co-founders Aislinn Rose and Michael Wheeler at The Theatre Centre and SpiderWebShow, respectively.
February 22, 2011, by

Where’s the beef?

Many theatre artists would like to eat all parts of this hamburger over the course of a given year. Right now its made with mystery meat, but CAEA wants to hear your thoughts on a new recipe.

by Michael Wheeler

If you are a member of CAEA and want to have a say in how you create your own work, the most important email you will ever receive on this topic will arrive in your mailbox starting on Wednesday February 23rd, 2011.

From the “Equiflash” message sent to members last week:

Members with an active email address on file with the office will receive notification and instructions, directly from Leger Marketing, beginning on February 23. In order to speed processing and enable the kind of analysis that will be needed on the results, this survey will only be conducted electronically.”

“The results of this survey will have a direct impact on policies that will determine Equity’s level of support for small-scale and independent theatre, and this could have a significant impact on your career. We hope you’ll take the time to share your thoughts with us.”

In recent years there has been a nation-wide groundswell of discontent with CAEA’s policies regarding independent artists and their collaborators seeking to make their own work and take control of their careers.

Some examples of this discontent include the formation of The Indie Caucus (2007) which has held four separate public consultations on the topic at various Toronto theatres, Consecutive 96-1 and 42-4 votes at national AGMs (2008-2009) to address the situation, a special packed-house Regional AGM held specifically to discuss the issue (2010), and finally the creation of the Independent Theatre Review Committee (2010) to study the issue and make recommendations.

Eight months after being formed, this committee has taken a single public step:  To send you the email you will receive on Wednesday. The answers from the poll linked in the email will form the basis for the values the committee determines should inform their recommendations.

Translation: Four years after this movement started, this is your biggest chance to impact how independently created work is encouraged and made. Do you think Canadian Theatre is going awesome? Do you think we may have to reshape and rethink the way work is created and contracted in the 21st Century? Or is the current model working well?

Normally this is the stuff artists philosophize about in the green room or over beers or whatever. This survey is your biggest shot at having your thoughts impact the way Canadian Theatre is made, encouraged and how you will participate in that ecosystem. Keep your eyes on your inbox and participate in determining the future practices of your industry.

Two things to note:

1 Is your email updated with Equity? If they don’t have your latest you won’t receive the survey.

2 Check your junk mail. The email is coming from Leger Marketing, which also did a recent member survey on insurance. Some members found this survey in their junk mail presumably because it came as a mass-mailing from an unknown sender.

* The Indie Caucus takes no responsibility for members who don’t fill out the survey, are unhappy with their options as artists in five years time, complain about this fact, and are smitten instantly by a thunderbolt.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Praxis Theatre, Praxis Theatre. Praxis Theatre said: Where’s the beef?: by Michael Wheeler If you are a member of CAEA and want to have a say in how you create your … […]

  2. Jacob Zimmer says:

    Hey – can someone make a google doc (or similar) version of the survey – maybe allowing “indie” producers who aren’t Equity members to at least see the questions being asked, if not fill it out – and/or have a public discussion of the results.

  3. Mark Hopkins says:

    I echo Jacob’s request; while my company is not registered with Equity, we are certainly impacted by the decisions that will result from this consultation. I would love to have some way of providing feedback!

  4. Peter Reitzel says:

    I too echo these opinions. The current climate is all but discouraging.

  5. Hey Jacob, 

    “Someone” should do that when the survey comes out. If this document appears online I will be sure to link to it in the comments here.

    The theatre community is made up of many members of a number of professional associations. Choosing not to participate in one should not preclude anyone from discussing the future of their industry.

    Many indie artists like myself and yourself are not yet members of Equity precisely because of its prejudicial policies against self-generated work. So obviously a huge amount of artists whom this survey will impact will not be consulted through this process.

    Nevertheless, it has been a long, long, hard fought, frightening, maddening, exhausting journey to get to the point where the association admits there is a problem here that needs to be addressed, and seems serious about taking some steps to do so. So I’m reticent to rain on the parade frankly. I want to move on to other things. 

    The new Fringe Waiver and the trial Tangerine Contract have the potential to be very good “buns”. If we get a prime piece of sirloin in the middle do I really care about how broad the consultation process was? Maybe this is undemocratic of me? I just feel like if enough people fill out this survey we can get a big win now and put this thing to bed. There are already plans to throw a party if – and only if – the new agreement for indie artists is reasonable.

  6. Mark Brownell says:

    To the Mssrs. Zimmer, Hopkins, and Reitzel


    TAPA’s indie caucus held an open series of Townhalls over the last three years where non-Equity indie producers were encouraged to contribute their opinions. The results of those townhalls were forwarded to the ITRC for consideration. Non-Equity indie artists also have the opportunity to post their views on the indie Facebook site:!/group.php?gid=53154274950

    The survey results will be publically discussed. It’s only the first step in the process. You are also invited to contact Equity’s Ontario CPAG about this as well. Please keep the dialogue going.

  7. Thanks for the update Mark. Great to know the results of the survey will be publicly discussed and that dialogue is encouraged.

  8. Fiona Kennedy says:

    My info with CAEA is all up to date and this survey has not appeared in my inbox or spam. Any updates?

  9. Hi Fiona,

    In all fairness they said they would START sending it out today. I would wait a day and if you receive nothing contact Equity directly. Any CAEA members reading along who have received it yet?

  10. Fiona Kennedy says:

    Thanks Michael. I just checked again and still no survey. I’ll let you know.

  11. Fiona, if you don’t receive the survey by the end of the week then contact

  12. Peter Reitzel says:

    Thanks for the Facebook info Mark.