Almost 60% of New York artists aren’t paid

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by Rebecca Gabrielle Cannon on Sunday 01 July 2012.

Almost 60% of New York artists aren’t paid image

In 2010 W.A.G.E. launched an online survey to gather information about the economic experiences of artists working with over 67 nonprofit arts institutions in New York City’s five boroughs between 2005 and 2010. The survey collected data about how cultural producers were compensated for exhibitions, performances, screenings, and lectures.

The results indicate that there is little consistency in institutional payment practices across New York’s five boroughs, with compensation ranging from full coverage of expenses and the payment of fees to no remuneration of any kind.

In response, W.A.G.E. is developing a certification program that will recognize nonprofit organizations that voluntarily adhere to an established best practices model and demonstrate a history of—and commitment to—paying artist fees that meet a minimum payment standard. W.A.G.E. Certification is being developed through a Research Partnership with Artists Space, together with active participation of the public.

Founded in 2008, Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.) is a New York-based activist group that focuses on regulating the payment of artist fees by nonprofit art institutions, and establishing a sustainable model for best practices between cultural producers and the institutions which contract their labor. W.A.G.E. is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

W.A.G.E. works to draw attention to economic inequalities that exist in the arts, and to resolve them.
W.A.G.E. has been formed because we, as visual & performance artists and independent curators, provide a work force. W.A.G.E. recognizes the organized irresponsibility of the art market and its supporting institutions, and demands an end of the refusal to pay fees for the work we’re asked to provide: preparation, installation, presentation, consultation, exhibition, and reproduction. W.A.G.E. refutes the positioning of the artist as a speculator and calls for the remuneration of cultural value in capital value. W.A.G.E. believes that the promise of exposure is a liability in a system that denies the value of our labor. As an unpaid labor force within a robust art market from which others profit greatly, W.A.G.E. recognizes an inherent exploitation and demands compensation. W.A.G.E. calls for an address of the economic inequalities that are prevalent, and pro-actively preventing the art worker’s ability to survive within the greater economy. W.A.G.E. advocates for developing an environment of mutual respect between artist & institution. We demand payment for making the world more interesting.