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An Ethical Standard for Talent Agents

Toronto’s entertainment industry has been concerned for some time about a small but growing problem of unethical talent, modelling and background agencies. These agencies claim to be part of the legitimate industry but are really in business to defraud thousands of people every year out of millions of dollars. They use methods that include:

  • Bogus “guarantees” of work,
  • High up-front registration fees
  • Contracts requiring clients to purchase services – such as photos, Internet pages and acting classes – for grossly inflated prices.

Organizations from the legitimate entertainment industry banded together in 1996 to create the Entertainment Industry Coalition – a broad-based committee representing virtually the entire “talent” side of the Toronto industry. The EIC wrote down what clients should expect from legitimate agents in the EIC Code of Ethics and distributes this Code to arm the public with information about how legitimate agents operate.

EIC Code of Ethics
AN AGENT (or talent agent, agency, artist’s manager, or personal manager) is a person, co-partnership, association, firm, corporation or any other form of business entity who or which offers to (or does) represent, act as the representative of, negotiate for and/or counsel or advise any person in or about or in connection with or relating to his or her employment or professional career as a performer in the entertainment industry.

The term agent is hereafter deemed to be synonymous with the terms: talent agent, agency, artist’s manager or personal manager.

A CLIENT means any person seeking engagement as a performer/artist in the entertainment industry who has entered into an agreement with an agent providing for the rendering of agency services for such person by the agent.

The relationship between a CLIENT and an AGENT as jointly defined above is not to be considered an employer/employee relationship.

The EIC is supported by:

  • The Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA)
  • Talent Agents and Managers Association of Canada (TAMAC)
  • Theatre Ontario
  • Acting and Modelling Information Service (AMIS)
  • Canadian Actors’ Equity Association (CAEA)
  • Casting Directors Society of Canada (CDC)
  • Toronto Association of Acting Studios (TAAS)
  • Union des Artistes (UdA)
  • … and independent casting directors and agents working and living in the Toronto area.

The Entertainment Code of Ethics

  1. An agent will be truthful in his or her statements to the client
  2. An agent will represent all clients in good faith and recognize the uniqueness of the client’s abilities. An agent will maintain an office, records and such materials necessary to conduct business normally deemed necessary to function as an agent.
  3. An agent will agree to be equipped and to continue to be equipped to represent the client ably and diligently in the legitimate entertainment industry and to so represent the client.
  4. And agent will maintain the confidentiality of all dealings on behalf of the client both during representation and after the representation has terminated.
  5. It is not a condition of representation that an agent stipulates the photographer, printer, school or any other service provider for the client. Should an agent have any financial interest in above named businesses, full disclosure about said interest must be provided.
  6. An agent will not advertise to the general public for the purpose of soliciting clients through advertising placed in any form of printed or electronic media (newspapers, flyers, magazines, telephones, the Internet, fax, CD-ROM or mailings, etc.)
  7. If an agent recommends a service provider in which they have a financial interest, it must be disclosed to the client at the time of recommendation.
  8. An agent will not accept employment as an actor.
  9. An agent will maintain an accessible office and telephone during all reasonable business hours.
  10. An agent or designate will be available, at all reasonable hours, for consultation with the client.
  11. An agent will, upon request, make available to a client or prospective client a complete current list of clients represented by the agency.
  12. An agent will inform the client, upon request, of any all activities undertaken on the client’s behalf.
  13. An agent will maintain proper financial books and records.
  14. An agent will make all books and records pertaining to a client available to the client on a regular business day upon forty-eight hours notice.
  15. An agent will not commingle monies belonging to clients with monies belonging to the agent, but will keep such monies in a separate account, which may be known as the client’s account or trust account.
  16. An agent will pay each client his or her share of all monies received on behalf of the client in a timely manner. All monies belonging to the client received by the agent shall be faithfully accounted for by the agent and promptly paid over to the client.
  17. An agent will tell the client at the time of signing a representation agreement which deductions from the client’s share of money the agent may make for expenses such as materials, photos, voice tapes, commissions and so on. However, the agent will make clear the client’s option to undertake the management of any or all of his own materials.
  18. An agent will inform a new client that commission due to a former agent be kept current.
  19. An agent will use all reasonable efforts to assist the client in procuring employment in the legitimate entertainment industry.
  20. An agent will make no claims or guarantees of employment to prospective clients that cannot be immediately substantiated.
  21. An agent will accept no employment on the client’s behalf without informing the client of his or her obligations, such as details of fees, performance credit, working conditions and so on.
  22. An agent will negotiate terms and conditions of any employment opportunities offered in consultation with the client.
  23. An agent will recognize and uphold the client’s prerogative to refuse any and all employment opportunities offered.

*Taken from The Guide to Talent Agents, Managers & Casting Directors in the Toronto Area published by ACTRA Toronto Performers.