Question about Speaker Contracts
July 05, 2008
Dear ASK Harriete:
After our very successful workshop with you last fall in Boise, we're getting ready to present another one next fall and would like to improve upon the contract we will use between the Idaho Metal Arts Guild presenter. One of the main questions that has come up is about the cancellation of the workshop, due to a lack of registrations, or other unforeseen problems. It seems to me that I've seen this noted in workshop applications, basically informing students that the organization reserves the right to cancel.
What we don't know, of course, is how that would be stated in the contract between the organization and the presenter, and what would be a fair amount of lead time between the last date to cancel and the date of the workshop.
Also, can you let us know if the organization normally makes the airline and hotel arrangements, or is that left to the presenter who would then be reimbursed?
Anything you can relay to enlighten on these questions and the subject of contracts between organizations and presenters will be much appreciated!
I don’t have a firm answer for you on any questions. There are many variables, I have yet to see a standard contract for a speaking/ lecture that seemed comprehensive. In the future, I will also try to find additional resources, so check back for additions to this blog. Maybe the readers of ASK Harriete will have some suggestions. Below is my response based on my experience lecturing. I have also found one Artist Lecture Contract in the book titled Business and Legal Forms for Fine Artists by Tad Crawford. Here is the link to the two-page document.
ENROLLMENT IN THE WORKSHOP
It is always a concern by both the lecture/workshop sponsor and the lecturer that the lecture or workshop won’t fill. Usually, in the past, I would be double-checking with the sponsor about enrollment before I buy the airline ticket…now that air travel seems to be more demanding with limited flight selection, buying the ticket might be more challenging.
I think that two to three weeks will have to be your initial cut-off date. If you offer a discount for early enrollment, maybe you can get minimum enrollment to cover your costs, and reduce the risk that your enrollment won't cover your expenses. The last-minute enrollment will be your additional profit.
The other option is to figure that the workshop is a service to your membership and that making a profit is an objective, but not the sole reason to host the workshop. Therefore, low enrollment does not warrant canceling the workshop.
Focused advanced publicity to schools and guilds in your area, and surrounding states and communities can possibly avoid this problem altogether.
Usually, the lecturer buys their airplane tickets. Sometimes the host wants to buy the tickets which is O.K., but it seems a lot of work for the host, and what if there is a problem with the tickets…it might make changing a ticket reservation a nightmare for the traveler if the ticker was purchased by another party or a different credit card. For these reasons, I suggest letting the speaker buy their own ticket. With security issues these days it seems the best alternative. The contract might state that you will cover the least expensive (or lower-priced) ticket available, and indicate a price range based on your research.
Personally, I am always worried about a canceled flight. What will the speaker and the sponsor do? Try to design an allowance in your schedule. In other words, include a contingency plan right from the start. For example, ask the speaker to arrive the day before the workshop and plan to take them to sites in your city, such as local galleries, museums, or a dinner with your guild membership. This way if the speaker is arriving late due to a canceled or delayed flight, maybe the dinner the night before might continue without the speaker, or meeting with the students scheduled the previous day will be rescheduled. Ultimately, with a backup plan integrated into the schedule, the speaker can still arrive later that night, or on time the next day for the important workshop.
I would suggest that you arrange for the hotel. The sponsor knows the area. The sponsor will be familiar with the best location and hotel for the price at a convenient location to either the workshop/lecture or one of the attendees that are offering transportation. Perhaps you can offer to pay up to a certain amount in the contract which covers a decent hotel. If the speaker is not satisfied, they can stay at a higher-priced hotel, and you just contribute from your budget the accommodation allowance stated in your contract.
This post was updated on December 15, 2021