weindustria's structurally f-cked report
Weindustria’s report into artists’ pay has been out for about a month now (— pay & working conditions, financial conditions, labour conditions? Idk what the best way to word that bit is — the wider financial state that artists have to operate in, as standard) and I honestly can’t stop thinking about it. If you haven’t seen it, a tl;dr:
Artists are underpaid hugely, massively, systemically. It’s mad that they are the people that literally PRODUCE the stuff that the entire creative industry runs on — all the other jobs in the art world wouldn’t exist without artists making art — yet they are the ones that are paid the least, consistently, over and over.
This report found that the median hourly rate paid to artists was £2.60.
I think that is ridiculous, but most of you following us, seeing this, won’t be surprised by this info? It’s just a thing we’ve all normalised, that we’ve assimilated into our understanding of the way things are. There’s no other way for the sector to operate, exceptions prove the rule.
Idk — I saw this report come out and I blinked twice at it because; YES. I’m so glad. Good fucking work, done well. I’m so so glad that someone did the legwork because it is reports like this that are cited, circulated, taken seriously by people in power. Taking anecdotal information and evidencing it with the systemic, research-y format of a formal report: that’s what will puncture that bubble n set a standard. It’s evidenced, that past tense verb, ykwim? No swimming away from it bc it is there, hard n fast.
Another part of me blinked twice bc I felt sad! The third section of this report is full of conclusions and suggestions and I wonder — I am j interested in where productive energy goes when it is unreciprocated. Will policymakers read this, take it and run w it? I hope sO! But that is a hope that feels naive! Maybe I am jaded (probably) or BITTER (yeah, probably!) because I am so used to good ideas (not j from me & Gabrielle, naughty) going unanswered, disappearing into the ether. i hope someone listens to these. I hope they get carried away into a back room somewhere, to inform some decision making. the idea of that makes me feel sad in so many ways, n idk why!!!!!
Most of all, I am just floored by the precision and clarity of those first 2 conclusions. Artists working in the public sector often earn less than minimum wage and sometimes are not paid at all. It is artists’ in-kind labour that is subsidising a financially-strapped sector.
^^^ That is the shape of a problem, in brief but in complete summary. Like, there is the fucked structure of the structurally fucked report. The sector at large is not in a good way bc of a decade+ of tory funding cuts (the report does draw a long line back into history, further than the 2010 coalition government, to trace the roots of this underfunding — WORTH A READ. PLEASE READ!) this sector-wide deficit means that artists are propping up the entire system, having to foot the bill for this huge and unmovable gap. We should have those two points on placards we should be taking to the streets.
Idk. It’s funny — I often think about how art is seen as a weird, different, maybe not entirely recognisable kind of labour. We see it as different, selective. The terms of artistic labour are muddied, made sticky, artists receive payment for their labour under such bizarre terms! All of that means that we all (not just us in the art world, everyone! Everyone in all of our society!) find it really hard to grapple with any questions about artists being paid at all! In any way! Let alone with public money! The problem is, as framed by this report, that the arts are a kinda public sector, propped up by the people who are literally running it, producing. Not just administrating it, distributing it or whatever — producing the stuff that literally this entire public sector runs on. i don’t wana take your complicity for granted, but obviously, that’s FUCKED. I also think other things.. idk how or where to word them. Soft, tentative thoughts that are not really words yet (or maybe not words I can share).
Anyway. This is j a one-month-late reminder that this is a thing that exists, that we should do something with. Information is there, where will we take it!? What will we do with it!! What does it mean!?!? To you, to me, to us all. I don’t fucking know, I am just talking about it so it is here, pinned on the great big pinboard of our website/blog, instagram — so that if you haven’t seen it, now you have. Idk! i have more questions than I know what to do with.