For anybody working in a freelance capacity, no matter what the trade, the biggest challenge is not necessarily finding work to begin with but getting paid for doing that work. Simply put, freelancers have to wait far too long in many instances to get paid for the work they do.
In our own experience, here in TheLab™, the waiting time for getting paid for commercial work ranges from just a few hours to, staggeringly, over 18 months.
The anecdotal evidence from professional dancers put wait times for invoices to be "processed" from several weeks to several months. Dance makers touring to small and medium scale stages report having to repeatedly contact venues over a period of months to receive box office takings that are vital to pay dancers and other employees.
Anybody working in the freelance game knows that cashflow is all important. Keeping money flowing through your bank account so you can keep paying the bills and, more importantly, living your life is vital to the dancers career and your mental health.
Too often though a dancer will land a six week job not knowing when their money, and it is "their" money is going to hit their bank account.
In the past the excuses were all about cheques, needing those cheques to be signed by the right person and waiting for those cheques to clear when they finally did arrive.
The advent of the internet and more advanced online banking however has made any excuses an employer can come up with completely redundant.
An invoice can be emailed instantly and a payment processed, without any kind of specialist banking services, within minutes. There are no more excuses other than indifference or poor organisational structure on the part of the employer.
New agreements between banks mean that payments are often transferred instantly. No more waiting for 5 "working days" for a payment to "clear".
Big vs Small
Large corporations can, to a certain degree, afford to have people pay them late for the services they provide. After all, they often have tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, in reserve along with massive credit lines at the bank so they can pay their own bills.
A freelance professional dancer is, obviously, not in the same position. Their cash reserves will be, if they are lucky, a few thousand and probably a lot less than that if they live and work in an expensive city like London.
Delayed payments can often cause problems for an individual, with paying rent and other essential bills. In turn this can lead to a lot of stress and additional charges from utility suppliers and landlords who are, more often than not, less than sympathetic.
When a dancer completes a job or a weeks work for an employer the money ceases to be the employers property and becomes the dancers property. As such the employer has no right, legal or otherwise, to hold on to that money.
Dancers face enough problems in the wide world of the arts without adding overdraft charges and threatening letters from landlords into the mix.
All employers, large and small, that hire dancers to do work should commit to a simple principle.
Pay your dancers within 48 Hours of receiving an invoice.
There is no technological excuse anymore so if there are problems with paying dancers then it is an internal procedural issue that can be easily fixed. You just have to want to fix it.
The dancers did the work, now pay them.