A survey conducted by the group W.A.G.E (Working Artists and the Greater Economy) has turned up some depressing, but not particularly surprising, statistics. After speaking to nearly 1,000 New York artists (including visual and performance artists), W.A.G.E. found that 58% received no compensation at all for exhibiting or presenting their work at local nonprofits.
Not only that, but 58% didn’t even have their expenses for participating in exhibits reimbursed. They had to cover their own cost of materials, transporting the work to the museum or gallery, and installing the work.
What makes this data particularly troubling is the fact that it reflects nonprofit organizations – groups which receive federal funding in order to promote the arts. If the arts are a form of public education, why isn’t the educator – the artist – being compensated for their time and effort? And why aren’t more grants available to directly enable artists to create their work?
While this survey only looked at New York, I think it’s safe to say that art scenes across the US suffer from the same issues. I certainly don’t know any professional artists who are able to make a living off their work – and I know quite a few throughout the country. Most of them have day jobs or teach in order to pay the bills.
W.A.G.E. is managing to make headway in encouraging galleries to pay artists – they’ve been working with the Soho gallery Artists Space to conduct presentations and discussions aimed at educating the public and sparking dialogue between artists and curators. Artists Space is attempting to lead the way by implementing best practices when it comes to compensating the artists they work with.
What do Care2 readers think? Do artists deserve to be paid for shows displaying their work? And should galleries receiving federal arts funding be required to pay artists?
Photo credit: Katsrcool via Flickr