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What's fair pay for a fair day's work in the arts?

Features - Classical Music | Film | Opera | Stage | Visual Art

What's fair pay for a fair day's work in the arts?

by Clive Paget on June 5, 2014 (June 5, 2014) filed under Classical Music | Film | Opera | Stage | Visual Art | Comment Now
Name and shame website aims to lift the lid on who pays their artists what.

In the wake of the "Kylie asks dancers to work for free" debate, a new website looks set to answer some of the most vexed questions that artists face in today’s competitive market. By encouraging artists to share employment experiences, the Who pays artists? website aims to expose the companies which underpay creatives as well as draw attention to industry best practice. And already, Australian artists are sharing their stories, both good and bad.

The rules of the site ensure that all users remain anonymous and artists are invited to reveal how much they were paid for their work and the name the organisation that employed them. In addition they can provide optional details of their experience with a particular arts employer as well as explaining their professional backgrounds.

“You never know how much to ask for,” says the site’s homepage. “Discussions about money are taboo because we pretend that passion and creativity alone should pay the bills. Some of the best events have ‘no budget’, and sometimes only the worst events can make a career as an artist look painfully sustainable. Let’s help each other sort through some of the confusion, and develop an ongoing dialogue about how artists make money.”

To date, the site has racked up entries from artists worldwide, with quite a few Australians in the mix. It’s still early days, but so far Sydney artists seem to be the most exploited (the Vivid Festival is identified as an offender), while Melbourne creatives seem more positive, even when they haven’t been paid (the Next Wave Festival seems to come out well). Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart, Brisbane, Darwin and Perth are yet to be represented.

A range of comments are shown below:

“I was paid nothing by Electrolapse / Vivid / NSW Government for a exhibition in Sydney. I am a woman, and have been doing live visualisations 16 years. Also: The exhibition was a hybrid of BYOB where some artists got funds to stage/show up and most didn't”.

“I was paid nothing by REMIX SUMMIT for a talk/lecture in Sydney. I had a bad experience. I am a woman, and have been doing leadership five years”.

“I was paid for a commission in Sydney. It took 1 day of work, and I had a good experience. I am a man, and have been doing paintings 5 years.”

“I was paid nothing by a NFP for a performance in Melbourne. It took 1 day of work, and I had a good experience. I am a woman, and have been doing MC/ Comedy 10 years. Also: this is a fairly common occurrence for me I got a T shirt and a bottle of water for my efforts”.

“I was paid AUD2,000 by Next Wave Festival Show for a performance in Melbourne. It took three weeks of work, and I had a unusually good experience.”

“I was paid $100 by Express Media for a commission in Melbourne. It took 4 hours of work, and I had a good experience. I am a man, and have been doing graphic design 1 year”.

“I was paid $11000 by Person for a commission in Melbourne. It took 22 days of work, and I had a good experience. I have been doing paintings 10 years. Also: This is an unusually large amount for someone who has only been professional for a decade; but I have won many awards and have had 11 solo and 60 group shows”.

To comment yourself, visit www.whopaysartists.com