Things to think about when talking to your venue
- Clarify all times and dates (of rehearsals, pack in and out, performances, how long you get the space before and after) and whether you'll be penalised if you over-run.
- What are the venue charges?
- How many people does the venue hold (capacity)?
- Does the venue have seating available? How many can they seat? If your show is cabaret-style, do they have tables? Is there a hire charge for the chairs/tables?
- What is their emergency procedure?
- What equipment does the venue have available? Does it have everything you'll need or will you need to hire extra equipment?
- You may not be the only production using the venue. Is there somewhere you can store your props, set, etc. that is safe and out of everyone's way?
- Does your venue have insurance that will cover you in the event of theft, loss, or damage, or is this something you need to look into yourself? This may also apply if you're hiring equipment.
- Does the venue have their own technician or do you need to hire your own? If a house tech, what is their fee?
- Does the venue have box office/front-of-house staff or will you need to provide your own? Where will they be set up to greet the audience? What tools do they need (e.g. table and chairs, cash float, reconciliation sheet, pens, signage, lamp if dark area)?
- Can the venue help with publicity? Can you be listed on their social media, e-newsletters, gig guide listings, and website?
- Is there anyone the venue wants to give complimentary tickets to? Is there anyone that normally gets in for free or a discounted price?
- Does the venue have security? What's it like? When does it start?
- Will the venue be handling payouts? What is the expected amount of time this will take?
- For non-traditional spaces, is there clear signage to the entrance/exit, toilets, performance area etc.? Will you provide this or will your venue?
A venue contract is a formal agreement between your company/show and your venue. This will ensure that both parties are clear on any arrangements you've made and will safeguard both parties in the event of any change in circumstances. Your venue contract should include:
- Venue hire charges.
- Performance and rehearsal dates and times.
- Liability of each party relating to damage, theft, loss, debt, costs, etc.
- Responsibilities of each party regarding expenses, venue use, stage management, and front of house.
- Responsibilities of each party regarding performances, administration, facilities, and marketing.
- Insurance details.
- Ticket sales, booking fees, complimentary tickets, who will provide the hard tickets, who will provide the float and bank the door sale takings, whether box office income will be split between the venue and the company/show, with any applicable minimum figures.
- Alterations and termination of the agreement (notice to be given, costs incurred, etc).
Ask for a floor plan of the venue with the stage marked on it - this should be in perspective. If you have to, measure the place yourself. You may want to ask:
- How big is the stage in metres? Make sure you know exactly how much space you need.
- How high is the stage from the floor?
- Are there steps up from the floor to the stage?
- If the stage is made of rostra, are they heavy enough not to move when jumped around on? Can they be bolted together?
- How far is the stage from the dressing room?
- What is the access between the stage and the dressing room?
- Where is the stage in relation to the majority of the audience?
- Are there any impediments to the sightline of the audience?
You may want to ask:
- Is there any room at the side or back of the stage for a stage manager/props/cast to be hidden?
- Is there a dressing room space? Is it big enough for your cast and crew? Are there other spaces in the venue that you could use for this purpose?
- Does the dressing room have costume racks? Does it have mirrors?
- How long does it take to get from the dressing room to the stage?
- Where is the dressing room in relation to a toilet or sink?
- Will anyone else have access to the dressing room? Is it lockable?
You will need a music release signed by the composer or an APRA (Australasian Performing Rights Association) licence if your show contains music not written by you or members of your show. The NZ Copyright Act 1994 gives composers the right to control the public performance of their music and to receive remuneration; APRA royalties help keep musicians working so that everyone can enjoy the music - it is often the only way some musicians get paid.
Some premises will already have an annual Live Licence with APRA. If your venue does not ordinarily play music and you will be using music for your show, you will need a Casual Licence with APRA. Licensing information and forms are available from APRA.
It pays to look around if you are intending to hire equipment. Different hire centres can vary in available equipment, conditions of rental, and price. Some local hire centres include:
- Grouse Lighting - www.grouse.co.nz
- MJF Lighting - www.mjflighting.co.nz
- Hire Pool - www.hirepool.co.nz
- Peak Audio Services - www.peakaudio.co.nz
- Oceania Audio - www.oceaniaproductions.co.nz
- AV Services (audio visual) - www.avservices.co.nz
- Propeller Studios (props) - www.propellerstudios.co.nz
- Vidcom (audio visual) - www.vidcom.com