Negotiating for a project or staff position is as essential – and as much of an art – as the dramaturgical or literary work itself. Solid preparation and approaching negotiation as a performance key elements for success.
Before the Negotiation:
- Calculate both your minimum compensation (what you need to live on) and ideal compensation (what you’re worth). Use the Dramaturgy Market Rate (DMR) Calculator outlined under (Pricing Your Services).
- Determine the time and resources you can spend on the project.
- Dramaturg the job description, and prepare a list of questions for anything that’s unclear.
- Consider what level of dramaturgical tasks – basic (early-career), standard (mid-career), and specialized (seasoned) – are required for the job. Honestly assess which you can execute confidently and which will be a stretch. Think about what tasks you are willing – and not willing – to perform for this project, and prepare to discuss why.
- Keep in mind that the employer or client will mostly likely be less informed about the dramaturgical or literary requirements of the proposed work than you. Be prepared to educate with a confident spine and generous spirit.
During the Negotiation:
- If your interview for a gig is both an artistic date and a negotiation, request that the conversation be split into two parts. Artistic process and labor/compensation issues are often arbitrarily connected and therefore often benefit from separate discussion parameters.
- If negotiating for yourself and with the person who will make decisions about working conditions and compensation, put on your agent/lawyer/advocate hat so you can be specific about your labor and how it’s compensation.
- If negotiation with a potential artistic collaborator, bring your full collaborative self to the table. This will be an artistic date – an exploration of your potential rapport.
- During the conversations, clarify the list of tasks that will be part of your job. Start to estimate the time required, and ask questions about expectations for process.
- If a company is like “we MIGHT need this too,” then let them know, and put in your letter of agreement, that those additional services MIGHT be needed and will require an additional fee.
After the Negotiation:
- Keep track of hours and tasks.
- At regular intervals, keep track of anything that might have changed from the spirit or letter of your agreement. Determine if a dedicated discussion is needed with your employer and/or collaborators.
For more detailed considerations for negotiation, please refer to the LMDA Employment Guidelines, “Negotiating a Contract” (pp. 6-7).
For a detailed listing of potential tasks that may be part of a dramaturgy gig, please see “Freelance Dramaturg Job Descriptions” (pp. 15-16).
Was this tool useful? Tell us why, or what could be better, in the comment box below: