“We don’t have a budget, but you’ll get lots of exposure!” Many have heard this at some point in their performance career. While it’s certainly not happening to all, it’s happening to enough for it to be a major topic in the raqs world.
Our volunteer raqs archivist said the same…
“It’s odd to learn that a dance troupe is performing in exchange for exposure to a room full of paid ticket holders at an event. Dancing for fun, dancing as part of attending a conference as a trainee, participating in a holiday event, dancing to help a cause and bartering are different things. But actually expecting a dancer who just paid x amount for her costume, hair, nails, toes, you name it….gas – shall I go on? – to dance for free is flat out disrespectful. I’ve even learned of some cases where the host says things like, “It just wasn’t in the budget.” But at the end of the night when money is being counted, it sure looks like it could be in the profits! We may really need to examine how we approach or accept this idea of “exposure” as a form of payment.”
We feel dancers (and musicians) in this art as well as other performance industries deserve to be paid. Good or bad, amateur or professional, if that person has taken time out of their day to get dressed up and travel to the event destination and entertain guests then that’s time they could be using for other things. Paying someone for their performance is a form of respect. This is not a reference to tucking bills into belts either, but a legitimate check with the troupe’s name on it or an envelope of agreed upon cash.
While getting involved in booking entertainment, musicians and cultural dance leaders, troupes and others we hold dear in our industry has a learning curve, we know that expecting a full show in exchange for exposure doesn’t cover the cost of training, costumes and so much more. Everyone enjoys exposure and can get it in many ways but exposure shouldn’t be the only form of payment. To expect a raissa to accept that as their only currency can be terribly insulting. Honouring a dancers’ rates or negotiating an agreed barter or price is all a part of respecting the art.
Thanks for reading,