Courses taken by Vanesa Wojtanowicz

Working with Performing Arts Agents: An Overview

I’m happy you’ve taken an interest in learning more about the world of agents and what they can and cannot do for you. You’ve made a positive step toward achieving your goals as an artist!

Please know, this course will not give you a guaranteed recipe for successfully securing an agent, bookings, or a career. This course is designed to help you better understand the role of agents, so you can take informed actions to secure the right representation and have your work seen by larger and more diverse audiences. Since my experience is as a booking agent for performing artists, you will find that my specific examples deal with this type of agency. However, the principals and core lessons apply to all types of arts-based agencies.

Please also know that many artists nowadays act as their own agents, and some of these artists have been successful. To be completely candid, as an agent myself, this course does not speak to this do-it-yourself brand of agent. This course is strictly about professional agents and managers that an artist would hire.

This course will require approximately 1-2 hours of your time, but you can always save your place and return at your convenience.

I hope you enjoy the course!

Course Instructor:
Bernard Schmidt is the owner/president of Bernard Schmidt Productions, Inc., founded in 1999, which handles general management, artist career development, worldwide representation, production, and fundraising for international artists and companies (mainly in dance and world music). Prior to this, he was the director of Pentacle International for Pentacle Management, which handled international tour booking for performing arts groups in North America and abroad. Among other professional credits, he was former managing director for Elisa Monte Dance; executive director of Ballet du Nord in Lille, France; and a staff assistant at the National Endowment for the Arts. He holds masters degrees from ESCP/Graduate School of Management in Paris and New York University.

Independent Contractors vs. Employees: What's the Difference?


Do you understand what makes an employee different than an independent contractor? Did you know you can be charged back taxes if the labor board determines you have misclassified the artists you pay?

Learn the rules and get an update on Department of Labor (DOL) guidelines in this video workshop! Dance/NYC Director Michelle Burkhart (an attorney herself) reports on a visit with the DOL and provides easy steps to follow to stay in compliance. Guest speaker Richard G. Kass, an attorney at Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, also provides his expertise on this subject.

This session will help arts organizations determine whether or not those that they employ should be identified as independent contractors or employees. Please note, even though this was a workshop held by Dance/NYC, most of the information applies to all types arts organizations across the country. There are a few specific references to New York State laws.

Original Date of Workshop: September 21, 2009
Duration of Video: 70 minutes

You can view a clip of this video workshop below. You must enroll to view the entire video (enrolling is free!).

Bios of Hosting Organization & Speakers

Dance/NYC is the New York branch office of Dance/USA (a Fractured Atlas Open Arts Network partner), the national service organization for professional dance. It is the mission of Dance/NYC to strengthen professional dance in the five boroughs of New York City and to serve as spokesperson on behalf of the field to the media, to the non-profit sector, to local and state government, and to the field itself. This is accomplished through three focus areas: advocacy, communications, and services to the field. Dance/NYC prides itself on supporting and nurturing the future of dance. Many valuable dance artist services and resources can be found on their website at

Michelle Burkhart has over 20 years experience in arts and business. Michelle is founder and CEO of Spectrum Equality Arts, Inc., a consulting firm dedicated to supporting culturally specific artists and arts organizations. She has worked as Director and Development Director for Dance/NYC since October 2006. Prior to Dance/NYC, Michelle worked with Complexions Contemporary Ballet as Executive Director and Administrative Director for Ballet Hispanico. Ms. Burkhart has over ten years experience in the non-profit sector, six years in the for-profit arena, and a 12 year career as a professional dancer. Additionally, Michelle is an adjunct professor at New York University where she teaches and has designed various courses in the Arts Administration SCPS Graduate Program. She has served as a panelist for Westchester Arts Council and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and has worked with Columbia University and Cornell University in an advisory capacity on research and academic arts studies. She was named a Tenenbaum Leadership Institute Fellow at New School University in 2008. She holds a B.S. in Organizational Behavior from University of San Francisco as well as a J.D. with specialization in sports and entertainment law from Golden Gate University.

Richard G. Kass, an attorney at Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, has practiced exclusively in the field of Labor and Employment Law on behalf of management for more than 20 years. He represents a wide range of employers in such industries as civil engineering, printing, manufacturing, retail, catering, and education. His practice encompasses all aspects of Labor and Employment Law, in both the private and public sectors. In addition to defending employers in litigation, engaging in collective bargaining, and counseling clients on a variety of workplace issues, Mr. Kass has trained hundreds of managers and supervisors in preventing workplace harassment. Bar associations and management groups have asked him to lecture on such topics as employee discipline, wage and hour regulations, the investigation of alleged workplace misconduct, and the drafting and enforcement of noncompetition agreements. Mr. Kass has taught Labor and Employment Law at the State University of New York at Old Westbury and at the Pratt Institute as an adjunct professor.

Courses completed by Vanesa Wojtanowicz

Getting Your Sh*t Together, Professional Identity: Demystified, Fundraising: Demystified, Marketing: Demystified