An Equity member must become a member of other performing arts associations when working in their jurisdictions (ACTRA and UDA in Canada; AEA in the United States). The principle is that one cannot be a professional in one part of the business, and a non-professional in another. Each reciprocal agreement recognizes the standing of both memberships and promises the cooperation of the associations, which meet when necessary to discuss matters of common interest.
Our reciprocal agreements serve to protect hard-fought-for gains, achieved through solidarity and sacrifice. When any professional works outside the sanction of the associations, it undermines those gains and makes it harder for us all to get the security and safe conditions we expect and deserve.
Professional associations in Canada and the United States share a list of unfair engagers. These are producers who are not eligible to engage members of these associations. The Equity office can answer any questions regarding your rights and responsibilities in such matters.
Actors' Equity Association in the United States (AEA) and Equity established a Reciprocal Agreement upon our amicable separation in 1976, which pledges cooperation in matters of common interest, and free interchange of members across the border, including helping members to get the appropriate work permits from the government. The agreement protects each association's members against possible undercutting that could be potentially be caused by visiting artists.
To become a member of AEA, you pay the initiation fee and current dues. If you are a paid up member of Equity, you may deduct the amount of the initiation fee paid to Equity to a maximum of fifty percent (50%) of AEA's initiation fee. AEA members have the same privileges when joining Canadian Equity. Members who joined before 1976 pay only the current dues, and any difference between the Canadian and American initiation fees at the time they joined. This is the same for AEA members.
Under US Public Law 102-232, you are allowed to enter the United States to look for work within American Equity’s jurisdiction, thanks to our reciprocal agreement. Once you have been offered a job, you must apply for a P-2 Visa: write or call AEA, inform them of your intention to apply for the aforementioned P-2, and request that they send a letter to your engager. The engager must then provide the immigration office with your name, and the name and dates of the production.
ACTRA and Equity have agreed that members may work in each other's jurisdiction under certain terms. When working under ACTRA's jurisdiction, you must become a full member of that association (unless you receive special permission from ACTRA, you may not work in non-union films, TV or radio), with the same initiation fee reduction as AEA’s discount.
UDA and Equity have agreed that members may work in each other's jurisdiction either by joining the second association or by working under a Courtesy Work Permit. There is no reduction in initiation fees to join, but members are allowed three contracts a year under courtesy work permits, which entitle them to membership privileges only for the duration of the contract during which members pay regular UDA dues. UDA pension benefits can be transferred to an Equity RRSP account, if requested in advance.
The CFM and Equity have entered into an understanding on the issue of respective jurisdictions. Actors who are also required to play musical instruments as a secondary part of the role they are playing will fall under Equity jurisdiction. Pit and/or onstage musicians, on-stage and off-stage choirs, Featured singers and self-accompanied singers/vocalists are also coved by this Reciprocal Agreement.