Discussion Paper - The provision of Alcohol as a contractual requirement in an Artist Contract

Craig Reardon - Tuesday, April 25, 2006
In light of the changing public attitude in the area of alcohol consumption I wish to raise the issue of an agent stipulating on a contract that alcohol must be provided for the performers in their work place.

My concerns relate to the following issues:

I can think of no other profession where this is a norm.

Given the sometimes precarious stage situations a performer is asked to work in i.e. dodging electrical cords and equipment, negotiating steps and other stage obstacles, is an agent not compounding a potential Health and Safety issue by the stipulation of the alcohol provision?

Is an agency leaving itself open to a potential legal claim in the unfortunate event of damage or a personal injury claim related to alcohol consumption at an event?

I understand that currently a part responsibility for consequences for injury or damages caused by alcohol consumption can rest with the person who provides the alcohol. If then, the alcohol provision is stipulated in our contract, are we part responsible, as the provider had no choice, as it was a condition of engagement.

If our association takes a stand on this issue it will be much easier to explain to our performers who question the exclusion of a rider “the AEAA, due to
Health and Safety reasons, cannot allow its members to include an alcohol rider.”

Should the AEAA take a position on this issue and have a recommended policy for its members discouraging or forbidding the stipulation of alcohol provision in contracts? Currently the guidelines state ”A professional, sober and drug free manner is strictly required at all performances.” Are we as agents acting professionally and within currently accepted community norms by then stipulating an alcoholic drinks rider?

There is a chance too that different insurance policies (i.e. Public Liability) may be invalid where alcohol is concerned.

Perhaps one suggestion is that instead of a drink rider as such, there is a 'refreshment allowance’, which if not used in drinks can be kept as cash? This of course may lower the initial fee but may be worthwhile given the complexity of the issue. It also means that the employer is at arms length from the alcohol situation - it makes alcohol at the choice of the performer and not of the employer.

Is the situation different, say at a wedding, when the father of the bride comes up to the band table with a jug of beer or bottle of wine to thank the performers for a great night?

Should we as agents go so far as to stipulate that a performer is not to consume alcohol during a performance period?

I acknowledge the historic and traditional provision of alcohol to performers in our profession and at the risk of being seen as ‘a bit or a wowser’ (no one enjoys a good glass of red wine more than me) I wish to bring this topic to the table at the next AEAA meeting. I invite input and comment from musicians and all those working in our industry.

Please provide us your comments below. The Musicians Union have been contacted by me and asked to have an input into this discussion. They currently have no official stand on the issue.

Brian Moran
Gum Tree Entertainment Co.
Member of Australian Entertainment Agents Association Inc.