THE BUSINESS OF DANCE: MONEY MATTERS
A freelance artist is an individual who is self-employed. Although not covered by employment insurance, freelance artists receive the benefit of deducting business expenses.
A partnership or collective involves two or more freelance artists who contribute their effort (often including financial contributions) to a joint venture. Though you may be working collaboratively, you are still considered independent of each other.
Ontario does not require you to register as either self-employed or in a partnership, since its tax system is based on your income and not on how you earned it. However, other provinces may require registration for reasons other than taxation. Please make sure to check the legislation of each province that you work within.
Budgets are a crucial part of any project. A good budget will force you to prioritize in your planning and help you make decisions. Budgets are an essential part of grant applications.
Budgets must be clear and accurate:
- Be realistic in your box office projections. Base these numbers on past experiences.
- Try to give reasonable fundraising projections. If you are too ambitious, the project will not look feasible.
- Indicate which revenues are confirmed and which are pending announcement. Indicate when funding decisions will be announced.
View a Sample-Budget.
Expenses can include artists’ fees, production, administration, and marketing costs. There may be additional costs specific to your project, for which you will have to note. Expenses should be based on real costs, calculated using market or union rates for fees/wages and quotations from suppliers. Show your calculations in the budget. For example:
- Per Diem: Three people x ten days x $45 per day = $1350
A number of revenue streams must be considered for any given project:
- Earned Revenue: box office, performance fees, concession sales, etc.
- Private Revenue: donations from individuals, corporations or foundations, and in-kind support (goods or services donated to the project)
- Government Revenue: grants from local, provincial and federal funding agencies, departments and ministries
Your revenues must accurately reflect how and where money is being generated.
Research funder’s criteria and deadlines
All government funding information, including grant application criteria, deadlines and contact information, can be researched online.
Click here to access a list of arts funders.
It is also recommended for dance professionals to sign-up for arts funder’s mailing lists, in order to stay up to date on application deadlines, program updates, and information sessions.
Speak to the funder
Contact funding officers when applying for a grant. They will review your proposal and evaluate your eligibility
Planning is essential
Some funders have only one deadline per year and can take up to 3-4 months to evaluate submissions. In many cases, you will need to be prepared to develop your project at least one year in advance.
• Your application may not receive funding. Don’t give up. Many artists apply numerous times before receiving their first grant. Speak to those who have had success, ask for feedback from funding officers, and try again.
• Create alternative funding plans. (ie. host fundraising events, connect with individual donors, research sponsorship options).
A contract (or agreement) is an understanding between two parties that identifies a method of payment and responsibilities. To ensure that you have all the information necessary follow DUO’s checklist.
For income tax or auditing purposes all fees and expenses should not be paid unless accompanied by an invoice. A contract only describes the facts of the understanding of service between parties, but does not prove receipt of payment of fees, expenses, etc.
The Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists (CADA-ON) provides information regarding professional standards in dance and template contracts. Visit their website for more information.
Many of the professional associations and leagues will provide more specific contract information and support.
For additional information or assistance, schedule a free one-hour consultation with a DUO staff member at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Insurance is a standard cost associated to run a business. Insurance premiums vary according to your operation, the type of policy, and amount of coverage you buy.
Public Liability is the basic insurance that you’ll need for your dance organization. It may include the following:
- General liability in respect of bodily injury, illness or disease to a third party
- Tenants’ Legal Liability
- Medical Expenses
- Participants’ Liability
The majority of performance venues require you to have Public Liability coverage prior to renting their space, although additional insurance policies are also available. Speak to an insurance broker to get a quote.
If your total self-employed income before deductions is greater than $30,000 in four consecutive calendar quarters, you must register for the HST through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). For more information, download this PDF or contact the CRA. (link to website)
Remember that any form of income is taxable.
• Keep all deposit information (slips, photocopied cheques, paystubs, etc.).
• Keep all expenses information (invoices, cheque number, etc.).
• Keep receipts for costs you can later claim.
• Keep the HST you collect separate from earnings.
• Go to a tax specialist or e-mail email@example.com to set up a one-hour free consultation with DUO’s Finance Manager, Natalia Tsirulnikov.