Ask the Experts: Policy on Cash Prizes

Whenever a group number from my studio wins a cash prize, I credit the full amount back to the studio. But now my choreographers and parents are complaining. Should I change my policy?

Distributing prize money can be tricky, but it’s ultimately up to you as the studio owner to decide who gets what. I wouldn’t change your current policy (which is also what my studio does for group numbers) unless you believe it’s time for an update.

If you do decide to go with a new policy, there are many different ways to divvy up the cash. Choose the option that you think best fits your clientele and what you think is fair, and be sure to put it in writing.

When it comes to solos, duos and trios, most studios follow the same plan: They credit any monetary winnings directly to students’ tuition accounts (this is the practice at my studio, too). With group numbers, many studios take a cut—I’ve heard anywhere from 15 to 50 percent—and award the rest to the choreographer. Some studios, on the other hand, put all cash prizes toward the cost of Nationals, evenly split between each dancer and the choreographer.

A studio will often opt not to offer an outside guest choreographer a split of the winnings. In that case, you could put the amount that would have been the choreographer’s cut into an account to pay for summer master class teachers, for example.

Joanne Chapman is owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.


Photo by Dan Boskovic, courtesy of Joanne Chapman

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