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Understanding the ACTRA Equity Reciprocal Agreement for Actors

If you`re an actor in Canada or the United States, you may have heard of the ACTRA Equity Reciprocal Agreement (AERA) between the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists (ACTRA) and the Actors` Equity Association (Equity). But what is AERA, and how does it affect your career?

In short, AERA is a legal instrument that allows ACTRA and Equity members to work on each other`s productions with certain terms and conditions. This means that if you`re a Canadian actor who belongs to ACTRA, you can perform on a U.S. Equity production, and if you`re an American actor who belongs to Equity, you can perform on a Canadian ACTRA production, without having to join the other union or obtain a separate work permit. AERA also covers other aspects such as pension, health, and safety benefits, as well as intellectual property rights and dispute resolution mechanisms.

AERA has been in effect since 1981, and has been renewed and revised several times. Its latest version, AERA 2016, came into effect on January 1, 2017, and is valid until December 31, 2021. AERA 2016 includes some changes and additions that reflect the evolving needs and challenges of the acting industry, such as:

– Expansion of eligibility: AERA 2016 allows more categories of actors to benefit from the agreement, including background performers, dancers, and singers who appear in principal or featured roles, and who meet certain criteria regarding nationality, residence, and employment status. This means that more actors can access more job opportunities across borders, and that more productions can tap into a wider pool of talent.

– Harmonization of rates and conditions: AERA 2016 aims to align the compensation and working conditions for actors who work under the agreement, based on the higher standard of the two unions. This means that if you`re an ACTRA member who works on a U.S. Equity production, you will be paid according to the Equity rate or the ACTRA rate, whichever is higher, and vice versa. AERA 2016 also sets some minimum standards for rehearsal time, travel expenses, and other aspects of the job.

– Streamlining of administration: AERA 2016 simplifies some of the administrative procedures for actors and producers who use the agreement. For example, it eliminates the need for a separate „rider“ or contract for each actor who participates in the agreement, and allows producers to make payments and deductions for pension and health contributions directly to the respective union funds. This reduces the paperwork and costs for both parties.

However, AERA 2016 also has some limitations and exclusions that you should be aware of. For example, it does not cover non-acting work, such as writing, directing, or producing. It also does not cover non-union productions, even if they have some union members. Moreover, AERA 2016 does not guarantee that you will get hired or that you will get the same benefits as a local actor, since the hiring and contracting decisions ultimately rest with the producers.

To benefit from AERA 2016, you need to be a member in good standing of either ACTRA or Equity, and you need to follow the relevant application and notification procedures before you start working on a reciprocal production. You also need to be aware of the differences and similarities between the two unions, as well as any cultural or legal nuances that may affect your performance or your rights.

As an actor, AERA 2016 is a valuable tool that can expand your horizons, enhance your skills, and enrich your experience of the acting profession. By embracing the opportunities and challenges of AERA 2016, you can showcase your talent to wider audiences, collaborate with diverse artists, and promote cultural exchange and understanding. Just remember to stay informed, connected, and professional, and your acting career can reach new heights.