Please note: This is not official policy yet but represents our vision for action we want to pursue.
Sandra Battaglini coined a phrase that has powerfully resonated with government officials and media already. She’s characterized the experience of being a stand-up comedian in Canada as a “Circle of Entrapment”. This circle involves limited opportunities to earn a living, restrictions and limitations on where we can work and for whom, limited access to funding as comedians, the need to go to the U.S. or UK to make a living, (and sometimes having to pay massive fees to do so), and watching as bystanders as comedians and comedy content from outside of Canada dominate our stages and media. CASC is changing that “Circle of Entrapment” to a “Cycle of Advancement” that will help improve the comedy industry in Canada for all stakeholders.
Here’s a list (it’s a work in progress) of tasks that you can get involved with. Some tasks will have a person in charge who you can contact to get involved. Otherwise, get in touch with a member of the CASC Executive, or email@example.com.
1. CRTC Task Force
- We want to educate ourselves on the upcoming hearings and how the CRTC affects the content we’re creating to submit to “Just for Laughs Canada” on SiriusXM Canada, and any other television, radio, and digital distribution channels in Canada.
- This includes a better understanding of how CRTC regulations have had and will have, an economic impact on the people who create, perform, and produce comedy content in Canada. There was a time when television stations, for instance, had to have a percentage of CanCon throughout the entire day. Now the CRTC’s only requirement is to have CanCon in prime time, and the requirement for the rest of the day is 0%.
- Monty on the Exec. is already on board with this. Ana-Marija Stojic will be coordinating the organizing and deployment of this task force.
2. Labour, Workplace, and Standards of Practice
- We have already begun developing a Workplace Safety and Harassment Policy. Anna Gustafson and Cory Mack got it going.
- We’re not a Union so we won’t be attempting to put set wages or fees into place. But, we want to work with external experts and within our own community to determine Standards of practice that can be communicated to all stakeholders.
- What is a fair commission to expect to pay your agent, manager, or a booker? Is it within a window of 10% – 30%? If they’re charging 50% – 80%, is that even legal? Is there an obligation for you to be informed of the Gross Fee being charged a client for your services?
- What are fair ticket prices for comedy shows, depending on the day of the week and time? How can we elevate the value of comedy so that audiences are paying a fair price for a show, but venue operators, their staff, AND performers are being paid respectfully? Some shows are Pay-What-You-Can or Free. In some cases this makes sense. But if this is your standard as a presenter of comedy, what message are you giving comedy audiences? Other types of ticketed events have had huge increases in prices over the years. Why is a comedy ticket often in the $10 – $30 range, and has been for decades? Gary Rideout spoke passionately about this at our recent Gathering co-sponsored by CASC and Mass Culture.
- What is a working definition of a Professional Comedian? We want to work within our community and with external experts on how to properly define a professional. One of our volunteers, Adam Helfand-Green is already working on this and will need assistance.
- What is a working definition of a Comedy Club? Is it an establishment that pays professionals? How many days a week do you have to have shows to be a club?
- Are non-compete clauses fair and even legal? What about other restrictions imposed upon performers? If you are prohibited from performing at certain venues because you are a CASC Member, for instance, is this legal? We don’t think so because it’s protected under Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: The freedom of association. What action can you take?
Contact Adam HG: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Marginalized Voices
- CASC would like to articulate that our Workplace Safety and Harassment Policy will include a direction that promotes racial, social, economic, physical, mental, and gender justice and equality. We will also pursue programming and development opportunities specifically directed at marginalized comedians within our community that includes 2SLGNTQQIAA + QPOC + BIPOC communities and the disabled. Chanty Marostica and Kyle Brownrigg are our LGBTQ ambassadors.
Adora Nwofor and Johanne Britton, will help lead the advocacy around these issues.
4. Fundraising Events, Sponsorship, and Funding
- We currently have a Fundraising Events Committee, and Allie Pearse and Ben Duval are already involved. More people are necessary. We want to produce some National Fundraising events ourselves with Member organizers across the country, as well as collaborate with others. Andrew Johnston has already offered to help spearhead this. In the past, all that we have asked event producers to do is:
- #paycomics (every performer must be paid)
- Mention CASC and www.canadianstandup.ca
- Donate proceeds from the show to CASC and/or pass the hat to the audience.
Contact Allie Pearse, Andrew and Ben Duval: email@example.com
- Sponsorship through Private Funding opportunities are currently being pursued by the Executive Committee and we welcome any contacts or ideas. We’ve had some success with our past events and will be building upon this after our big win this week! This includes opportunities with various Tourism organizations, both public and private.
- Public Funding Resources: We are continuing our pursuit to get Stand-up Comedy listed as a “Field of Practice” with the Canada Council for the Arts and other government sources of funds. This, essentially, is getting comedy recognized as an art form.
- Legacy Funding through a CASC Foundation, or separate foundation, is one HUGE venture we are exploring. This would be something similar to FACTOR for musicians but customized for our profession. (See below under Lobbying Government and Industry) In short, the sources of this funding would come from mandated contributions from any producer, or distributor of comedy content in Canada, and/or producers, and distributors of comedy content that receive public funding to do so.
5. Lobbying Government and Industry
- We want to work with government and industry to increase the amount of exceptional Canadian comedy content being developed and produced, featuring Canadian comedy professionals, for Canadian audiences and global distribution comparable to places like Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Italy, Germany, France and Quebec.
- As mentioned above, we are still lobbying Heritage Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, and other levels of government to recognize Stand-up Comedy as an art, but more technically a “Field of Practice”. Ludmilla von Hoyningen Huene and Sean Carson have already been working on this. Ana-Marija Stojic will help to coordinate further action on this.
Contact Ana-Marija Stojic: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Similar to how private and public radio broadcasters have to contribute funds to foundations like FACTOR, we want any television or radio station that programs comedy content to contribute funds to a CASC Legacy Foundation, or a separate Foundation, that provides professional comedy performers with access to these funds to create content that will help advance their careers. In addition to radio and television stations, online digital distributors and producers of live events featuring comedy that receive public funding or subsidies from any level of government would also contribute to this legacy fund.
- These funds will not all of a sudden be automatically evenly distributed amongst comedians. Applicants will have to have a plan on how those funds will be used to create Canadian content that they will perform live, or in audio or video recordings (like albums and Web series).
- This content can also be submitted or pitched back to the very sources of the funds – the broadcasters, producers, and distributors of comedy content.
- Consider, as an example, the fact that festivals and live events aren’t regulated by the CRTC like radio and television. We could lobby to have JFL book more Canadians in high profile roles, but a minimum would receive a small percentage of funding from their public resources to help develop Canadian performers.
- This “Cycle of Advancement” will create an infrastructure in which writers and performers can create the most exceptional content possible, giving other stakeholders in the comedy industry in Canada the best and most diverse body of content and artists to select from.
- Ana-Marija Stojic has expressed interest in this.
6. Labour Mobility
- One of CASC’s primary objectives it to make it easier for Canadian comedians to work around the world. When negotiations began back in late 2017 to create a new trade deal with the United States and Mexico labour mobility was a top priority for the Canadian team. They were committed to make it easier for Canadians to work in a global economy. But that commitment quickly changed to capitulation and things really went south. Literally. When Sandra met with trade officials in June of 2018 we were in an all-out trade war. There was a discussion that maybe Canada should apply a tariff on American performers since they apply such a heavy one on us. In the end, it became clear that Canada didn’t want to raise the ire of our neighbours.
- Sandra and Ludmilla had a follow-up call with Global Affairs last December just to see what this new NAFTA deal entailed. According to them, Canada did not bring up the labour mobility issue for culture workers because they didn’t want to bring up the cultural exemption clause. What does that mean? Well, Canada said what was not up for negotiation was our culture. It was ‘exempt’. Meaning they didn’t want American companies to buy Canadian newspapers or TV stations. Canada’s broadcasting system was also exempt, they said in order to ensure sustained investment in content created and produced by Canadians. But if Bell and Rogers buy mostly American content then what is Canada protecting? They were stumped. The truth is that this so-called cultural exemption was just a fancy term for protecting Bell and Rogers from being swallowed up by big American media giants. Our government is holding us hostage here to protect Bell and Rogers.
7. Boycotts and Protest Actions
- Based on feedback at the Town Hall, CASC’s position on Boycotts is that they are to be at the discretion of the individual, or groups of performers. We want it to be noted, however, that the impromptu Boycott of the JFL showcase by comedians in Edmonton should be regarded as bold leadership. CASC wants our Members to observe the objectives of the Association. There will be times when boycotts are not in compliance with those objectives, and there will be times when they are integral parts of historic moments for our community. Thanks Edmonton!
- Much the same can be said about staging a protest. If you have an idea for an action of protest and you want it to be endorsed by CASC, you must be prepared to a) organize it, and b) inform CASC Executive as to what the action involves and demonstrate you have put all the necessary safety, security, and legal precautions into place. Pete Johansson and Cal Post expressed interest in some ideas.
8. CASC Incorporating, New Constitution and ByLaws, Proposed Operating Budget, and Elections
- The current Executive Committee will be presenting a motion at the Annual General Meeting, AGM (see details below) to transition the Association from a not-for-profit Organization to a not-for-profit Incorporation.
- The Executive will also be presenting a motion to adopt a new Constitution and ByLaws to reflect the new Association.
- The new Association will still represent the specific interests of stand-up comics, as well as expand to open Membership up to all professional comedians, and aspiring comedians in Canada. This includes if you identify primarily as an Improv or sketch artist, (many of us are multi-disciplinary). It will be written in the new Constitution that it will always be acknowledged as a part of our history that this movement started with stand-up comedians.
- The current Treasurer will be presenting a motion to pass a Proposed Operating Budget for the new fiscal year.
- Complete documents of both the proposed Constitution and ByLaws and Operating Budget will be made available at least one week prior to the date of the AGM.
- According to our current Constitution and ByLaws, none of the above can be changed without a majority vote by a minimum quorum of the active CASC Members in attendance.
- An election of the Executive Committee Officers will be conducted within one year of the Incorporation becoming complete, should that motion pass. Until that time, the current Executive will remain in their positions. Should any of the current Executive wish to step down, according to our current Constitution and ByLaws: If a vacancy occurs in the Executive Committee, the remaining members of the Executive Committee, by majority vote, or as determined by the President in the case of a tied vote, shall invite an eligible Member to serve out the elected term of office. This article will also be applied when adding the two additional members to the Executive Committee.
- There will be other Standing and Ad Hoc Committees to consider. One of the things that have come up is having more than just Ambassadors in each province and territory (which we already have strived to accomplish), but Regional Chapters. Efthimios Nasiopoulos had this idea. Like any other committee aside from the Executive, these wouldn’t be voted upon by all Members. If you wanted to establish a Regional Chapter in your community, you would present the idea to the Executive. It would be communicated to all Members. Thereafter, anyone who is a Member can join that committee and within that committee would vote by majority to determine its Chair.
Annual General Meeting is tentatively set to take place:
March 26th, 2019
The Redwood Theatre 1300 Gerrard St. E. Toronto
You will be able to attend in-person, or virtually online through (FB Live, or YouTube Live)
On MOTIONS that require a vote from Members, you will be able to vote electronically on the day of the AGM.
9. Education, Training, and Professional Development Pathway
- We will work to establish and maintain a pathway for success for aspiring comedy professionals, and seasoned pros looking to advance their careers. We will work with existing institutions, as well as set up programming internally. Louise Richer from L’École Nationale de l’Humour in Québec will be a great resource for us.
- CASC and Just Me Art’And Conseil have joined forces to create a comedy exchange program between Canada and Europe. Together, they will develop a strategy and deployment for this endeavour that is economically progressive and beneficial for both comedians and their countries. They are excited to announce their first initiative is a comedy show that will be produced both in France and Canada to promote each country’s tremendous talent. If you would like to help on this project please email email@example.com
10. Performance Venue Network
- We are working to build and communicate through a Canadian comedy venue network involving club owners, venue operators, bookers, promoters and comedians to make performing live on-stage as profitable as possible for all stakeholders.
- Redefining non-compete clauses so that comedians and clubs can compromise, understand each other and get the best for all stakeholders.
- Creating a database of producers and club owners with their fee structure. This will tie into our #paycomics campaign and be the first step to developing a standard pay rate for comedians. If you are a comedy producer please add your show here: https://canadianstandup.ca/indie-comedy-producers/
11. Industry Relations Committee
- We want to maintain positive relationships with other private and public organizations in the industry, to keep the dialogue going on improving the industry for everyone. JFL and SiriusXM Canada have listened and responded. We need to keep meeting with them to build on our mutual success. Sandra and Barry are already working on this.
12. Economic Impacts Analysis
- CASC has been advised by representatives from the music industry to create an Economic Impacts Analysis to demonstrate the economy of comedy in Canada and how it is big business.
- When we can prove that it’s worth investing in our business then we can approach government and industry with confidence.
- CASC was recently invited to participate in Toronto’s nightlife study that is looking to introduce measures to develop the nighttime and social economy from 6pm to 6am. This was huge for us as we had a seat at the table and now we’re on the City of Toronto’s radar.
- CASC also curated an event hosted by Mass Culture to explore the most effective way to build an infrastructure around comedy. Mass Culture is an organization that looks at gaps in cultural policy and makes recommendations to the federal government.
- Cassie Cao and Jacob Samuel have expressed interest in this. Cassie is an economist and Jacob is a data analyst with the city of Vancouver. Ana-Marija Stojic will help to organize this team.
13. Health and Affinity Benefits
CASC will explore relationships with health and dental insurance providers to offer Members an opportunity to opt into various levels of coverage. We support the physical and mental health of the entire comedy community in Canada.
We have already begun negotiations with product and service providers for Member discounts on things such as travel, technology, communications, and food and beverage.
Thank you for your support, feedback, and involvement.
Thank you for all your work. I am keen to be part of the new phase of Canadian stand up comedy.
[…] If you want to see how you can help with the next steps, please check out the CASC Action Plan […]