Joining Equity - Opera

Becoming a member of Equity is a big career step. Membership opens up opportunities and provides certain rights and protections, but it also means certain responsibilities. Becoming a member at the first available opportunity may or may not be an advantage. Make the decision that serves your interests best. Remember, Equity will always be there. If you don’t join today, you can join tomorrow.

The information provided is an overview of Equity’s Bylaw provisions. Please contact Equity's National Office at 1-800-387-1856 (416-867-9165 in Toronto) and speak with the Membership Administrator or email membership@caea.com with any questions regarding membership rights, responsibilities and joining options.

Performers

In general, an artist who is citizen of or permanent resident in Canada, wishing to pursue a career in professional opera, working as a chorister, singer or soloist under Equity's opera agreements, must join by virtue of signing a contract under the Canadian Opera Agreement (COA), Opera Agreement (OPA) or Vancouver Opera Agreement (VOA).

Performers who are contracted under or working on a production governed by one of Equity's engagement policies (Artists' Collective Policy, D•O•T, Festival Policy and INDIE 2.2) may not join Equity at that time. Please email membership@caea.com to discuss joining options.

In rare circumstances, an engagement permit may be available facilitate the engagement of a professional performer not ordinarily working in a discipline within the jurisdiction of the Association and who does not wish to pursue a career as an Equity member. Please email membership@caea.com to discuss this option.

An artist may be required to join in certain circumstances.

  • If the artist is a member of another performing arts association or union with which Equity has a reciprocal agreement regarding membership.

ACTRA
A member of ACTRA must join Equity and will be given a $475 reduction to the Equity initiation fee upon presentation of proof of membership in good standing with ACTRA.

AEA
A member of Actors' Equity Association (AEA) must join Equity by virtue of the reciprocal agreement with AEA (U.S.). Depending on the initiation fee paid to AEA you may entitled to a discount of up to half of Equity's $1,000 initiation fee.

UDA
A member of Union des artistes (UDA) in good standing may be eligible to work under a "Courtesy Work Permit." A Permit must be filed before they begin work. If the artist is not eligible for a Work Permit they must join Equity. There is no discounted initiation fee for UDA members.

  • If the artist has a significant existing professional career in live or recorded performance.

Please email membership@caea.com to confirm your situation if one of these circumstances applies.

An artist, who is a citizen of or permanent resident in Canada, wishing to pursue a career in professional theatre may acquire apprentice credits in recognition of experience gained while working on productions governed by Equity’s scale agreements or engagement policies. Apprentices must be 16 years of age or older and may not be a member of any professional performing artists’ association or union.

Upon application to Equity, a non-member performer may request to join Equity upon acquisition of several apprentice credits.

In the interest of nurturing and developing young Canadian singers and dancers, an apprentice credit may be acquired for participation in an opera production governed by the OPA only (mainstage productions in a supporting role as defined by Appendix A or the equivalent as a dancer) or under one of Equity's scale agreements in theatre or dance that provides for apprentice engagements. Non-members may also work under on productions outside of the umbrella of Equity, without consequence, in order to gain experience.

A non-member may be granted subsequent apprentice credits in recognition of work on productions governed by an engagement policy (Artists' Collective Policy, D•O•T, Festival Policy and INDIE 2.2), upon application to Equity.

Apprentice Credit Fees

*An engager is required to pay this fee on behalf of an artist.

An artist with an established professional career in live or recorded performance now living in Canada may apply to join Equity. Membership may be approved after receipt and review of an artist's application and curriculum vitae. Membership in the Association does not supersede any requirements for applicable work visas in Canada.

Artists who are not citizens of or permanent residents in Canada may be engaged as performers under the COA, OPA or VOA provided the engager has secured applicable visa approval for the artist to work in Canada. The term of membership of a non-resident artist is restricted to the period of their engagement. Please contact the Membership Administrator or email membership@caea.com with any questions regarding membership joining obligations in this circumstance.

Stage Directors & Choreographers

In general, only existing Equity members may work as stage director or choreographer under the COA, OPA or VOA.

A stage director or choreographer, who is a citizen of or permanent resident in Canada, wishing to pursue a career in professional opera joins Equity by signing a contract under the COA, OPA or VOA.

A non-member stage director or choreographer who is contracted under or working on a production governed by one of Equity's engagement policies (Artists' Collective Policy, D•O•T or Festival Policy and INDIE 2.2) may not join Equity at that time. Please email membership@caea.com to discuss joining options.

Many stage directors and choreographers choose to accumulate a wide range of practice and wealth of experience by working under Equity’s engagement polices before deciding to join. Non-members may work under on productions outside of the umbrella of Equity, without consequence, in order to gain experience.

Training and development of Canadian directors and choreographers is recognized in Equity's opera agreements with negotiated minimum fees and responsibilities for assistant stage directors and choreographers.

Equity's Directors, Choreographers, and Fight Directors (DC & FD) Committee is currently looking into expanding available training, apprenticing and joining opportunities and options for directors and choreographers across all disciplines.

Fight Directors

Under the COA, a fight director who is a citizen of or permanent resident in Canada wishing to pursue a career within the jurisdiction of the Association, may join Equity by signing a contract under the agreement. The engager must first give consideration to hiring existing Equity member fight directors.

Under the OPA or VOA, a fight director who is a citizen of or permanent resident in Canada, wishing to pursue a career within the jurisdiction of the Association, may join Equity by signing a contract under the agreement only with the written permission of Equity. The engager must first give consideration to hiring existing Equity member fight directors, however, they are not obliged to engage a fight director whom they judge to be incompatible with their needs. If a fight director does not want to join Equity, they may work under an engagement permit instead.

Equity's Directors, Choreographers, and Fight Directors (DC & FD) Committee is currently looking into expanding available training, apprenticing and joining opportunities and options for fight directors across all disciplines.

Stage Managers

In general, only existing Equity members may work as production stage managers, stage managers or assistant stage managers under the COA, OPA or VOA.

An artist, who is a citizen of or permanent resident in Canada, wishing to pursue a career as a stage manager in professional opera may only join through demonstrated experience gained when working in Equity’s jurisdiction.

There are two separate but compatible streams for joining; through either the accumulation of apprentice credits or engagement permits. Stage managers may accumulate both permits and credits as and engagement permits count as apprentice credits, including retroactively.

Non-member stage managers may apply to join Equity, without reference to a contract, upon acquisition of:

  • eight apprentice credits, where those credits have been acquired with a single engager, including at least two credits acquired on productions governed by a scale agreement; or
  • six apprentice credits, where those credits have been acquired with at least two different engagers, including at least two credits acquired on productions governed by a scale agreement.

A stage manager apprentice acquires apprentice credits in recognition of experience gained while working on productions governed by Equity’s scale agreements or engagement policies. Apprentices must be sixteen years of age or older and not a member of any professional performing artists’ association or union. The COA, OPA and VOA all provide for apprentice stage manager credits.

First Credit
A first apprentice credit may only be acquired for participation in productions governed by the COA, OPA, VOA or one of Equity's scale agreements.

An engagement permit counts as a first apprentice credit. The artist must file a Registration Form for each eligible apprentice credit (per production).

Acquiring Subsequent Credits
An Apprentice may acquire subsequent credits under the COA, OPA, VOA or any theatre, dance or opera agreement that provides for the engagement of Apprentices. They may also work under on productions outside of the umbrella of Equity, without consequence, in order to gain experience.

Upon application to Equity, an artist who has completed their first apprentice credit, may be granted subsequent credits in recognition of work on productions governed by an engagement policy (Artists' Collective Policy, D•O•T, Festival Policy and INDIE 2.2), including retroactively, where:

  • 50% plus one of the participants are Equity members and two-thirds of the performers are Equity members; and
  • the stage manager and director are Equity members.

An apprentice, who has graduated from an accredited post-secondary theatre program and who has completed their first apprentice, may retroactively apply for an additional apprentice credit:

  • to recognize completion of stage management training at an accredited university, college or conservatory theatre program; or
  • to recognize work done as a stage management apprentice on a professional production while enrolled in an accredited university, college or conservatory theatre program.

Apprentice credit recognition for professional work done outside of the umbrella of Equity (“body of work)” credit, shall be considered upon application to the Executive Director.

Apprentice Credit Fees

Apprentice credit fees expire three years after the start of the associated engagement but the credit remains in perpetuity.

If extenuating circumstances prevent the acquisition of apprentice credits to join in a timely manner and avoid expiry of contributions, an artist may apply to the Executive Director to have the expiry period of the contributions extended. A $25 extension fee applies.

Non-member stage managers may acquire a maximum of eight apprentice credits, where those credits have been earned with a single engager, or a maximum of ten apprentice credits, where the credits have been earned with multiple engagers.

Where an undue restriction (geographical or other) prevents an artist from completing the required number of apprentice credits, an artist, at least four credits, may apply to the Executive Director to join the Association without reference to a contract.

Initiation Fee

The cost of joining Equity is a one-time initiation fee of $1,000, plus payment of $90 for a half-year of basic dues, for a total payable of $1,090.

Previously paid permit filing fees and/or apprenticeship credit fees, will be applied towards the artist's initiation fee thereby reducing the one-time payment. Any remaining initiation fees owing, plus current basic dues, must be paid when an artist applies to join the Association or an artist may provide the engager with written authorization to deduct an initiation fee and remit it to Equity.

Please email membership@caea.com for confirmation of the initiation amount owing and for answers to any membership questions.