Employment Guidelines

The Employment Guidelines are designed to assist dramaturgs and literary managers, and their colleagues in theatre companies across North America, in preparing and conducting contract negotiations.

Sample Contracts

The Sample Contracts are intended as templates from which an individual or organization may draft a contract for a range of institutional and freelance dramaturgy positions.

Employment Guidelines

LMDA is proud to announce publication of the Second Edition of its Employment Guidelines following ratification by the LMDA Board of Directors. The new Guidelines were launched at the organization’s annual international conference in Atlanta, GA, June 28-July 1, 2012.

Access the PDF version of the Employment Guidelines here

The mission of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA) is to cultivate, develop, and promote the fields of dramaturgy and literary management in the United States and Canada. LMDA is committed to improving employment prospects and working conditions for dramaturgs and literary managers, and, in order to fulfill this mission, it has adopted the Employment Guidelines, the use of which it recommends when negotiating contracts and other employment agreements. These Guidelines refer to three broad categories of employment:

  1. A Freelance position, such as that of a project-based or production dramaturg;
  2. A Staff position, such as that of a dramaturg or literary manager;
  3. A University/College position, such as that of a dramaturg in a university or training program.

The Employment Guidelines are designed to assist dramaturgs and literary managers, and their colleagues in theatre companies across North America, prepare for and conduct contract negotiations. Building on the highly regarded and widely used first edition, published in 2002, the new edition has been expanded to include a detailed introduction to the challenges of defining and contracting for freelance, staff and university/college positions in the fields of dramaturgy and literary management. Noting that such positions often vary greatly in terms of job descriptions and terms, the Guidelines have been created to assist individuals in determining appropriate working conditions, contractual terms and fee ranges.

LMDA stresses that these are offered as guidelines; the nature of dramaturgical positions is that they almost always must be customized to suit the artistic project at hand. LMDA recommends that dramaturgs consult the Guidelines in order to inform themselves about suitable terms and that the guidelines be adapted to fit the needs of specific projects and positions. LMDA further urges that a detailed conversation regarding the artistic and financial terms of any position be held amongst the relevant parties prior to drafting a contract; a new Negotiation Checklist may be particularly valuable to individual artists. LMDA will be distributing the Guidelines widely across the theatrical field and invites managing directors, producers, general managers, artistic directors and production managers to read the Guidelines and use them when appropriate to draft job descriptions and contracts.

The Second Edition features an extensive chapter on Property Rights, addressing complex issues of copyright that are often relevant to dramaturgs. Written following consultation with experts in the field of intellectual property rights and entertainment law, the guidelines in this area offer an overview of relevant issues regarding newsletter articles, program notes, educational materials, translations, casebooks, and production notebooks. This chapter examines the nuanced differences between the United States and Canada with regard to copyright and property rights.

LMDA thanks the following for their work on the Second Edition:


Scott Horstein, Brian Quirt

Revision Committee

Diane Brewer, Oliver Gerland, Jacqueline Goldfinger, Celise Kalke, Kristin Leahey, Michelle Kneale, Carrie Ryan, Vicki Stroich

Special thanks to Beth Blickers, Douglas Campbell, Debra Cardona, Danielle Carroll, Julie Felise Dubiner, Liz Engelman, Shirley Fishman, Shelley Orr, Geoff Proehl, Ed Sobel and Lynn M. Thomson for their contribution to the process.

LMDA Sample Contracts

LMDA has created Sample Contracts as a supplement to the Employment Guidelines. These Contracts are intended as templates from which an individual or organization may draft a contract for a range of institutional and freelance dramaturgy positions. These Sample Contracts incorporate language that is the industry norm in the North American theatre business and are provided with commentary written by the editors to give context for use in drafting dramaturgy contracts.

The following Sample Contracts are available:

The Sample Contracts address many of the components that may arise in a dramaturgical engagement, but in many situations it will be necessary to change the Sample Contract to reflect the needs of the parties or the project at hand. LMDA urges all parties to use the Sample Contracts as a starting point from which to adapt to the specifics of the contractual conditions under discussion. You are encouraged to expand or edit the text as appropriate.

Most of the samples are drafted for Dramaturg-Theatre negotiations, but could in many cases be adapted for Dramaturg-Playwright or Dramaturg-Director collaborations as well.

Your state or province may have required clauses or language that is not addressed in the samples. While LMDA offers these as generic contracts that can be adapted for use in Canada and the United States, it is your responsibility to ensure that appropriate language and clauses are included for your jurisdiction.

Please consult the LMDA Employment Guidelines prior to adapting these sample contracts to your situation. LMDA recommends that you review ‘The Dramaturg–Employer Relationship’ (pp. 4-5); ‘Negotiating a Contract’ (pp. 6-7); and ‘Guidelines for Freelance Dramaturgs’ (pp. 15-19) for detailed commentary that may be useful in customizing these sample contracts as part of the negotiation process. All dramaturgs should familiarize themselves with the section ‘Property Rights for Dramaturgs’ (pp. 6-14).

A good practice, even once a contract is agreed upon and signed, is for the Dramaturg to be proactive and timely in reminding the other contracting party of elements (such as billing arrangements) that can easily and without malice be forgotten in the everyday business of theatre management. Many theatres contract with other kinds of artists in much greater numbers than with dramaturgs, and may not have it as standard organizational procedure to follow through on aspects of dramaturg work agreements even when agreed upon in good faith.

Lastly, please note that the Sample Contracts are provided only as recommendations by LMDA as a professional service organization. LMDA does not intend for them to be construed as an act of collective bargaining by the organization with the rest of the field, nor does LMDA intend for them to be construed as legal advice. Their use is not binding for LMDA members nor for any other artist or individual consulting them.

Scott Horstein | Brian Quirt

Co-Editors, June 2016

Thank you to LMDA members Ken Cerniglia, Stephen Colella, Julie Dubiner, Liz Engelman, Nakissa Etemad, Oliver Gerland, Kristen Leahey, Carrie Ryan, and Jayne Wenger for their contributions to the process.

Thank you to outside reviewers Robert Drake, Gary Glenn, Naila McKenzie, Alysse Rich, Seth Stuhl, Christopher Voci and Nancy Webster for their important comments and suggestions.

LMDA President: Bryan Moore | LMDA Board Chair: Brian Quirt

Suggestions for the continued refinement of these contracts welcome.
Please contact LMDA’s Administrative Director:

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