NAPAMA's Guidelines for Ethical Behavior
North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents (NAPAMA) is a not-for-profit membership organization that promotes excellence within the community of performing arts manager and agents, the professionals who connect artists to audiences regionally, nationally, and internationally. NAPAMA's Guidelines for Ethical Behavior ensure effective, responsible, and ethical communication between NAPAMA members and their colleagues: artists, presenters, and other managers. Further, it guides the professional and contractual relationships of its membership through principles that include professional courtesy, good business practice, and an open and forthright dialogue.
NAPAMA's greatest obligation is to foster the development of and access to performing arts of the highest quality. The cultivation of excellence is the best way to maximize public appetite for live performance and increase the opportunities for talented artists. The principles of professional conduct described herein assume a condition of ample opportunity that may or may not exist at the moment and an ethical standard that is painless only if it does.
NAPAMA's Guidelines for Ethical Behavior include the following topic areas:
- Manager-Artist Relations
- Manager-Presenter Relations
- Manager-Manager Relations
- Manager-Employee Relations
- Complaints Procedures
- Moral Standards
Throughout this document, the term "manager" will refer to both managers and agents.
I – Manager-Artist Relations
- Initiate the relationship between artist and manager.
- Determine if the artist is free to enter into a management agreement and prepare to honor, and encourage the artist to honor, any existing obligations to previous management.
- Do not entice artists from another manager's or agency's roster, especially with unreasonably optimistic predictions about engagement and fees that might be procured.
- Do not assume that the mutual obligations and responsibilities detailed in a contract are understood and remembered by the artist.
- Inform the artist, before the contract is signed, of the probable eventual costs of promotional and publicity materials, travel, telephone, postage, etc.
- Create mechanisms for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses.
- Create provisions for contract renewal or termination.
- NAPAMA agent members shall generally be compensated on a commission basis and commission shall not exceed 20% of any fee negotiated by a NAPAMA member. Where retaining fees are levied, manager will clearly inform client of value received for such fees.
- The term of a NAPAMA member contract with clients shall not exceed five-year increments.
- Thematically- and conceptually-oriented funding and fee subsidy programs are impacting presenter decision-making and the viability of artist projects and tours. Any functional and fiscal participation of managers in these processes should be clarified in writing.
- Remit fees to the artist within a clearly specified time period.
- Regularly itemize and invoice expenses. If misunderstandings occur concerning expense reimbursements, remedy the situation by improving communication.
- Momentum is crucial in the development of an artist’s career. If a manager has reached the end of his or her effectiveness, be frank and offer the artist the option of going elsewhere.
- Artists must be clear about their own needs, priorities and expectations.
- Contractual obligations with a manager or presenter must be fulfilled. Failure to do so impairs the reputation and effectiveness of the manager and, by extension, the opportunities available to other artists on the roster.
- If the artist fails to honor obligations for reasons not enumerated in Act of God clauses, the artist must meet his/her financial obligations to the involved managers and presenters.
II – Manager-Presenter Relations
Managers and presenters represent entities beyond themselves: managers, performing artists, presenters, and audience. The manager-presenter relationship lies at the heart of NAPAMA's profession and requires mutual trust and a commitment to the performing arts.
- Be an accurate, efficient and timely source of information about performing artists.
- Do not willfully misrepresent the needs, capabilities and availability of the artist you are authorized to represent.
- Do not represent artists you are not authorized to represent.
- Every step of the booking process activity should be a model for both sides of the bargaining table.
- Managers must be frank and forceful with presenters about the effects on artists' careers of potential abuses, such as unreasonable holds, premature requests for contracts, and other restrictions, such as exaggerated exclusivity clauses.
- Managers, especially when dealing with less experienced presenters, must not abuse any rights or expectations to which the imprecise use of language may seem to entitle them.
- No enticements, such as gifts of value or monetary kickbacks, may be offered to presenters for booking artists. Not only is this illegal, it is a particularly loathsome violation of our trust.
- It is recognized, given the committee structure governing many presenting organizations and the complicated and delicate process involved in putting a season together, that the requesting and granting of "holds" may be a necessary step in the booking process. All parties involved must recognize and respect the good faith aspect of "holds" and not abuse the process.
- The contract should be completely, accurately and promptly executed, including any and all riders, except when specific retarding circumstances (government grants, etc.) are clearly defined.
- All parties, including the artist(s), should be fully aware of all conditions and be ready and willing to fulfill them.
- Subsequent impairments should be fully, frankly and promptly communicated to all concerned.
- Remember, verbal agreements are legally binding.
- The manager-presenter relationship is a partnership in the service of a larger cause: the bond between artists and audiences. The contract is a crucial link in that chain. If it is broken, far more is lost than what can be entered on a balance sheet. In the event that a cancellation threatens, whether willful or not, the important thing is to save the bond. The process will be painful and difficult no matter what. The best preventive medicine is a thoughtfully designed and realistic contract. The only palliative is the frankness and good will of the parties.
- If, despite all efforts to prevent it, a cancellation does occur, all sides must use their best efforts either to find a suitable replacement artist or to reschedule the date.
- Artists must realize that doing so can damage a career, impair the reputation of management, and damage the credibility of a presenter in the eyes of the public. It is especially reprehensible when the desire to cancel stems from a more lucrative or prestigious engagement elsewhere. This indicates a short-sighted view of career advancement.
- Failure to honor a commitment can adversely affect the viability of an entire tour, with consequences not only for management and artists but also for other presenters. It is especially reprehensible when the desire to cancel stems from problematic ticket sales. Presenters will find managers and artists willing to assist in marketing and promotion efforts that can lead to increased sales. Such cancellations will involve reimbursements to management and artists.
- NAPAMA members are advised not to sign contracts that contain cancellation at will clauses.
III – Manager-Manager Relations
Although relations and interactions among managers are not contractual in nature, they are emblematic of how others may expect to deal with us, our artists, and presenters.
- Respect the integrity of one another's rosters.
- Do not claim to represent an artist you are not authorized to represent.
- Do not be tempted to discuss a colleague's putative shortcomings with artists, presenters or other managers. Confusing the good of the field with one's personal or professional advantage is as reprehensible a shortcoming as any other.
- No guidelines can deal adequately with the problem of artists and managers shopping for each other while allied elsewhere. A manager should not approach artists on another's roster. If approached by an artist, a manager should discuss the current situation fairly and then proceed from there with tact.
- NAPAMA members will share with the respective NAPAMA member whom it concerns, information which is pertinent to a specific member/client, client/venue or member/venue relationship.
- No NAPAMA member shall make false or misleading representations to a venue, artist or other individuals regarding the nature or ability of a NAPAMA member.
IV – Manager-Employee Relations
- NAPAMA's industry includes both entrepreneurial businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Training and professional development programs are limited, and offices are generally small. Because these factors contribute to varying degrees of employee turnover, the engagement and separation of personnel must be undertaken with great delicacy.
- Managers are mentors and educators who teach employees the practical and philosophical aspects of our business.
- Managers should expect that many of the employees that they've trained will leave the company to either start their own organizations or work with competitors. This fact should not, in and of itself, be a cause for recrimination.
- The conditions of employment should be clearly stated in writing.
- Be clear about the disposition of monies which may be payable after an employee leaves the organization.
- All severance conditions, such as provisions that preclude working with artists on the roster for a specified time period, should be made explicit, in writing, from the beginning.
- Formula-based components of remuneration, such as bonus payments tied to income thresholds, should be paid as specified in a timely fashion and not held hostage to other issues. The threat of legal action should never be a tool to neutralize contractual responsibilities.
V – Conferences/Conventions
The evolving dynamics of our industry make the traditional "we-they" dichotomies increasingly inaccurate and counterproductive. The roles and functions of artists, managers, presenters, funders, and service providers have become more fluid. Nonetheless, crowded convention schedules and problematic ratios among professionals create a condition of scarcity for contacts, a situation that offers possibilities for abuse and offense. To avoid conflict, observe the basic rules of politeness, decency, and common courtesy, and in particular, respect territoriality in the exhibit hall. Colleagues purchased exhibit space and, with it, a zone of influence which should extend only as far as necessary for two or three people to stand and converse comfortably.
- Exhibits should not impinge on neighboring spaces nor should they block or obstruct the view of another booth.
- Audio-visual equipment should be oriented so as to be viewed from within the exhibit space, not from outside.
- The aisles should be considered a neutral space in which presenters may circulate freely without being accosted.
- "Sellers" should not approach "buyers" in front of another seller’s space.
- Conversations among colleagues should not be interrupted.
- At educational sessions, showcases and hospitality events, attendees should not be distracted from the business at hand with sales-oriented conversations.
Infractions of these guidelines make the exhibit hall a distasteful experience for many. Adherence to them helps assure that all concerned may better profit from the investment made in our artists' careers.
VI – Complaints Procedures
Because honest differences of opinion will develop concerning the application and interpretation of these guidelines, NAPAMA created an Ethics Advisory Committee to facilitate and resolve conflicts.
- Any party to a dispute involving a NAPAMA member may approach the Committee.
- The first step is to place an informal call to one of the designated Committee members.
- The Committee member will attempt to clarify the dispute without involving the Committee as a whole or any other parties.
VII – Moral Standards
- No NAPAMA member shall engage in fraudulent or felonious activity.
- No NAPAMA member shall refuse to represent or hire any artist on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, or sexual preference.
You are our primary curators for artistic quality, as you invite artists onto your rosters and groom them to the protocols of touring and performing.
Ellis Finger, Director, Williams Center for the Arts, Lafayette College
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