The policy will help to improve the working and living conditions of artists and to ensure a career in the arts is viable.
The culture of underpaying or not paying artists continues to exist in 2020 and it is not acceptable, the Arts Council said today.
The state agency for funding and developing the arts said that the practice represented a hidden subsidy to the cultural life of Ireland that was unfair and unsustainable. When even successful artists lived in such financial insecurity that they could not have a normal life in Ireland it caused long-term damage to our society as a whole, the Arts Council said.
Launching its new policy document, Paying the Artist, the agency said it would award grants only to organisations that remunerate artists fairly, and promised to keep the issue to the fore through new funding conditions, research, education, advocacy across government and civil society, and a campaign, #PayTheArtist
Arts Council Chair Prof. Kevin Rafter said: “The Arts Council is the development agency for the arts in Ireland and in this role it is only proper that we want artists to be able to earn a living for the work they create.”
He added: “With this new policy we are asserting the importance we place on improving pay and conditions for artists. The Arts Council wants to bring an end to the idea that it is acceptable to get artists to work as a ‘freebie’ or to offer work without proper payment because it might somehow enhance an artist's career.”
“Artists should be paid fairly and equitable for their work. The best way to deliver on this new policy, Paying the Artist, is more resources for the arts. As Chair of the Arts Council, I would encourage the new government and the new Minister for Culture to be ambitious for the arts, and to let that ambition be seen in the Arts Council budget for 2021.
The agency’s Director, Orlaith McBride, said the Arts Council would work together with artists, their representatives and resource organisations to bring an end to artists being underpaid.
“We understand that this is a very complex issue for artists and that there are significant variations in how pay and contractual issues manifest across different art forms and arts sectors, she said “We are committed to using our position to help influence positive change, and this policy will establish key principles that can be adopted across all arts areas. It will also complement existing work regarding dignity and respect in the workplace and the Arts Council’s Equality, Human Rights and Diversity (EHRD) Policy.”
The policy was developed from the agency’s current 10 year strategy, Making Great Art Work. It follows research studies over recent years which confirm that the working and living conditions of artists remain below acceptable standards, with some artists reporting incomes below the national minimum wage.
In implementing this policy, the Arts Council said it seeks to create an environment in which artists can make work of ambition and quality, and be remunerated appropriately. Improving standards is essential to ensuring a career in the arts is viable and that a diversity of voices is represented within the arts, the agency said.
The new policy provides best-practice principles that can be applied to most engagements of artists and sets out a detailed implementation plan over a three-year period. These principles cover all potential forms of artists’ earnings including pay, salary, wages, fees, allowances, benefits, and non-cash incentives, as well as income derived from rights or royalties. They also account for professional artists’ time, input, expertise, and status, and reflect the value created by their engagement.
The scope of the policy includes all of the Arts Council’s direct engagements with artists and the organisations in which it invests. It also includes Arts Council colleagues across government departments and their line agencies and partner organisations, and it encourages artists and individual practitioners to expect fair and equitable treatment.
Additionally, the Arts Council’s three-year plan has led to new assessment criteria and funding conditions that emphasise a commitment to improving remuneration and contracting practices.
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