Touring Handbook


Today, as you are reading this, there is a troupe of dancers about to open the door of a middle school home economics room that will, for the next hour or so, serve as their dressing and preparation room prior to their performance in a prairie school’s cafetorium. And there is a musician who has just plunked himself onto the floor among twenty-two nine year olds in an underserved urban city school. Tonight, artists will be stepping onto stages to fill the air with the magical power of live performance from Gander to Yellowknife to Powell River, from Toronto to Quebec City.

Touring. The rush of the exhilarating performance that went “just right”. The adulation of the audience. The adventure of wondrous new sites and sounds. These may be the images that inspired you to consider “taking your show on the road” and they may indeed be part of your touring experience. But in the year or two leading up to those moments and in the months that follow, there is an awful lot of roll-up-your-sleeves-and-dig-in detail work to be done.

In the first place, you have to secure tour bookings, but before you do that, you’ve got to have the promotion materials to sell your work and you’ve got to know how to contact those who might be interested in your tour. Then there’s routing, contract negotiations, budgeting, scheduling, cash flow, logistics like travel and accommodations, production and technical equipment preparations, personnel management, promotion, outreach activities, presenter communications and more.  

For whom? 

This handbook will assist you, as solo artists or small- to medium-sized companies, to conceive, plan and execute your first few tours in Canada. Whether your tour is planned for a few nights or a few weeks, whether you are a traveling alone or as part of a group of 12, the issues to consider are the same: the only real difference will be the scale of the work involved.

The old adage “Everything that can go wrong will” may not be a perfect metaphor for touring and this publication cannot hope to cover all the circumstances that you will encounter when touring around this vast country. There is no single answer or rule that will fit all situations, but you will find useful information in this manual for most aspects of touring. Click on links for more detailed information, helpful forms, checklists and personal advice you’ll discover from touring veterans.

The road is beckoning, but before you pack your suitcase, take in some tips and tricks to make the journey all it can be.