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ACTRA : Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists

By Lin Parkin

December 5, 2007

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ACTRA logoWhere would the Canadian arts, cinema and entertainment scene be without ACTRA?

Join guest blogger and Voices.com staff member Lin Parkin as she explores the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists here on VOX Daily.

How did ACTRA come into existence?

It all started in 1940 when the Radio Artists of Toronto Society (RATS) was formed. Shortly after the formation of RATS, radio artists from Vancouver, Montreal and Winnipeg formed their own union councils. In 1943 a loosely formed national union was created that represented all English-speaking performers, called the Alliance of Canadian Radio Artists (ACRA). The union changed names many times over throughout the years going from the ACRA to the Association of Radio and Television Artists, to the Canadian Council of Authors and Artists, to the Alliance of Canadian Authors and Artists, and finally settling on the most appropriate title in 1984, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists.

ACTRA’s Raison D’Etre

ACTRA was created to protect and promote the rights of English-speaking performers in Canadian film, television, and radio. ACTRA has established eleven collective agreements including the Independent Production Agreement, Commercial Agreement, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Television Agreement, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio Agreement, CTV Agreement, City TV Agreement, and the Vision TV Agreement. In 1975 union members formed their own self funded benefit plan called the ACTRA Fraternal Benefit Society. The plan provides a wide range of services including medical, dental, and retirement benefits and is tailored to meet the unique needs of performance artists.

ACTRA National Offices

ACTRA operates ten branches across Canada, in the major city centres. ACTRA represent over 20,000 artists across Canada; including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, and St. John’s. Members in each local elect their branch council representatives. It is through these branches across Canada that local and national policies, benefits, and services are adopted, carried out and managed. To keep the organization truly national, there are no defined headquarters. The local branches vote-in National Council who represents the collective ideals of all its members.

ACTRA’s Role in Canadian Culture

ACTRA plays a leading role in the development and preservation of Canadian culture, an issue that continues to be the core value of the union. In an effort to support cultural and economic efforts across Canada, ACTRA is also affiliated with the Canadian Labor Congress and the United Steelworkers. Members of ACTRA are professional artists from all walks of life in the media and entertainment industry including; film, television, radio, voice overs, digital media, comedians, singers, dancers, stunt performers, puppeteers and more.

ACTRA’s Affiliation with Other Unions

ACTRA has agreements with many other unions on an international level, giving performers in Canada a voice beyond its boarders. ACTRA sister organizations include the Canadian Actors Equity Association (CAEA), the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), and the International Federation of Actors (FIA).

ACTRA Membership

There are three different levels of membership with the union. You can join as a back round performer, an apprentice performer, or a full member. Cost of memberships may vary depending on your location, and are often more affordable in less populated areas.

Back Round Performers (Extras) are eligible for membership if they have worked as an Extra on ACTRA approved productions for at least 24 days during the last twelve month period. Applications are taken in person at the nearest branch. A current resume and headshot must be provided (a digital picture will be taken if the applicant doesn’t have a headshot). The cost for membership is $75 for initiation, plus basic dues of $30. To maintain membership it is necessary to work at least fifteen days during the twelve month period beginning March 1st.

Full Membership in ACTRA is available to any performer who is enrolled in the Apprentice Membership Program and has worked on at least six ACTRA productions in the last twelve months, or, in the reorganization of overcoming barriers, visible minorities and disabled persons can join with just three working engagements on ACTRA productions. Full membership in ACTRA is also available to people who have a full membership in its sister organizations.

ACTRA Apprentice Memberships

Apprentice memberships are available to those who hold at least one work permit for a principal role, acting role, or stunt role. Back round performers are not eligible for the apprentice membership. There is an initiation fee of $75, plus the basic dues which are, at this level, $75. Apprentice members enjoy all the rights, privileges, and benefits of full membership, with the exception of voting privileges. Apprentice Members are given full access to all available ACTRA productions. Members can list themselves on-line in “Face to Face”, the union’s national database where headshots and resumes are shared with the world.

All members must only work for productions that are signed to an ACTRA Collective Agreement under ACTRA jurisdiction, and may only work with performers who are also ACTRA members in good standing. They must uphold their agreement to the union at all times and never work for less than the minimum fees or work under any conditions that are not acceptable as outlined in the collective agreement at any time while they are a member of the union.

ACTRA Member Benefits

The benefits of being a Full or Apprentice member are the right to a fair wage, residuals and royalties, safe and acceptable working conditions, artistic freedom, the right to maintain artistic output, respectful treatment as an important part of production and playing an important role in the contribution to Canadian culture.

More Information About ACTRA To find out more about the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists please visit their website by clicking on this link: www.actra.ca

*Information source www.actra.ca*

About The Author Lin Parkin lives in London, Ontario, Canada where she is an Account Manager and writer for Voices.com, the #1 online market place for voice overs. Voices.com is home to over 15,000 voice actors from around the world representing over 100 languages and services over 60,000 clients who need voice overs recorded for their projects.

Image © ACTRA

Related Topics: ACTRA, AFTRA, broadcasting, industry, radio, TV, union


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