Performers’ Equity Program

WHAT IS PERFORMERS’ EQUITY PROGRAM?

The Performers’ Equity Program is a body of rules applied to foreign live entertainers seeking to work in the Philippines and aims to safeguard the interests of Filipino performers who are being displaced in the influx of foreign acts in our country. This government-private initiative was made to ensure that the rights, privileges and welfare of Filipino performers are protected in spite of the presence of highly patronized foreign acts.

It started in 1987 upon the initiative of then Immigration Commissioner Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who dialogued with Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM) and the Asosasyon ng Musikong Pilipino (AMP) to engage artists’ non-government organizations in policing the entry of foreign performers who do professional work in the Philippines. The Bureau of Immigration Commissioner, together with the incumbent heads of OPM and AMP, signed a tri-partite memorandum of agreement that was enforced in 1989.

Performers’ Equity Program does not only intend to raise funds for the Filipino Performers’ welfare but also to institute rules that will result in a better working environment for the Filipino Performer in his/her own place of work.

I. Coverage & Exemption/s

Currently, there are two parties who have entered into an agreement with Bureau of Immigration in the implementation of the equity program in the country. The Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit collects equity fees for foreign singers doing live musical acts and concerts while the Asosasyon ng Musikong Pilipino collects in behalf of the displaced musicians, instrumentalists and back-up vocalists.

Subject to specific exemptions, the following belong to the category of performing artists in live entertainment covered by the Performers’ Equity Program:

  1. Solo and group singers (lead singers, vocalists in bands, and choirs);
  2. Theater actors, creative and technical directors, technicians and crew
  3. Solo and group dancers and choreographers;
  4. Fashion models, stylists, designers, and creative and technical directors, technicians and crew;
  5. Magicians and circus artists, creative and technical directors, technicians and crew; and
  6. Any foreigner who performs, plays/acts in, interprets, and/or designs live entertainment acts staged in the Philippines

Exemptions apply to foreign artists in the classical genre because of their limited audience reach, as well as foreign performers of any traditional forms of creative expression from the country of origin to facilitate cultural exchange. Other exempted performers include foreign singers who sing gratis for charity, provided that they or their producers can show adequate proof that the engaged foreign artists are not receiving payment as professional fee and that one hundred percent (100%) of the show/s’ proceeds shall accrue to charity; and foreign performers whose parent/s is/are/was/were Filipino/s and those who are currently married to a Filipino national.

II. Procedures & Fees on Acquiring Endorsements

Local sponsors or producers must inform all involved parties in the program, through a letter of intention, the name/s of foreign artists, dates and venues of all performances or work engagement, and name/s of local performers, if any, at least sixty (60) days before the intended dates of performances. (Download application form here).The letter must include the names of all solo, group and background singers, instrumentalist and dancers who will perform in the show.

The foreign performer/s or local sponsor or producer shall pay corresponding equity fee. Foreign performers not covered by exemptions shall be required to pay the amount of Five Thousand Pesos (Php 5,000.00) per show for each foreign singer/performer who will be performing in any venue in the Philippines.

The rates however, shall be pegged at a maximum amount of Thirty Thousand Pesos(P30, 000.00)regardless of the actual number of shows performed per quarter of a year. This rate shall apply to live performances on stage such as concerts, musical theater, mall shows, etc. whether income generating or not. This rate is inclusive of promotional activities such as TV and radio guestings, etc.

The above rates shall be doubled for shows, performances or promotional activities that fall on any of the dates covering the peak season for local performers/artists (the entire months of December, January and February).

Upon the receipt of letter and payment of the required Equity Fee, OPM/AMP shall issue an Endorsement Letter to the local producer waiving all objections to the foreign performer/s professional engagement in the Philippines. The concert producers will present the same endorsement letter to the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) as a requirement for application for Special WorkingPermit of the foreign performer/s.

Foreign performers covered under the above-noted exemptions still need to process their endorsement papers. They or their producers are required to pay the processing fee of Five Hundred Pesos Only(Php 500.00) per solo artist or per established group of artists.

III. Fund Utilization of Equity Payments from Promoters

The fund collected from equity fee payments provide assistance to local performers whose livelihood and practice of profession are displaced by the influx of foreign productions.

For example, collections serve as funds for welfare programs that include performance workshop, continuous professional education, health/insurance benefits, and other emergency assistance that are extended to members of organizations implementing the equity program.

From 2010-2013, OPM utilized collection for launching the Philippine Music Registry (www.philippinemusicregistry.com.ph), an online registry of Filipino music artists and their published works. The project, to which NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts) is a co-proponent, serves as an online and information source for artists/performers, students, teachers, researchers, commercial end-users, institutions and music enthusiasts. Up to date, OPM has been diligently populating the site, which contains more than 30,000 song-entries.

OPM also instituted a Legal Assistance Program for artists who are in need of legal representation when disputes arise in their respective work places. Artists can also make use of the program for legal advice regarding their contracts and other legally- binding documents pertaining to their nature of work as singers.

In 2011, OPM embarked into events management thru the OPM Fair Project– a venue for artist-audience interaction that promotes original Pinoy music. The project not only gives performance venues, exposure and employment opportunities to emerging Filipino talents but also gives them a chance for interaction and mentorship with established singers. The OPM Fair continues to be one of the many flagship projects of the organization that caters to the needs of emerging Filipino singers.

To raise public awareness and facilitate implementation of the EO 255—an executive order ensuring the broadcast of a minimum of four (4) original Filipino musical composition every hour of the program, the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit launched the MY OPM PLAYLIST Campaign, a travelling exhibition launched in 2013, that constitutes OPM Playlists of influential Filipino people who serve as aspirational- sectoral leaders of their respective communities. The exhibition targets to create a playlist that can be submitted to radio stations for airplay as materials for their respective radio programs.

Annually, OPM conducts a performance workshop—free of charge, for those aspiring singers who want to venture into the singing profession.

The Singers Welfare Fund was also instituted by OPM to cater to the hospitalization, medical assistance and other emergency needs of ailing members who have long retired form the profession. The fund also extends death, burial and other insurance benefits to its members. Carlo Bulahan, Susan Fuentes and Didith Reyes were among the many members who benefited from the assistance program.