Commissioning Artists | 7 Principles


I'm asked to share lots of opportunities for artists. Increasingly I'm seeing sizeable orginisation paying artists below a living wage or sector minimum rates of pay in short time spans for work that would usually take months to complete well. One example I got this week was an opportunity for £350 for six, three hour workshops, plus interview and application process and the delivery of a new ten min work - the £350 could also be split between writing groups of three if you wanted?! I know folx are trying to do what they can with very little right now but commissioning and development, even now, is a priority, not what you do with your surplus. Some principles I think organisations should follow when creating open calls and opportunities are... 1. 2 artists paid fairly is better than 10 being exploited! Funders want numbers but make the case why you won't continue the cycle. Stop over promising, under delivering and passing the singular buck to artists, makers and independent producers who then are forced to fundraise and make up your deficit. Its not fair. 2. Rates of Pay - ITC, Equity, AN, Artist Union England all have published rates of pay - these are the absolute minimum you should be asking people to work for you. Also, Unions - you *MUST* do more than publish rates of pay for your members - you need to lobby, disrupt, strike! 3. Equate the labour, output and hours against the fee you are offering - work out the hourly or daily rate you are offering - is that in line with the living wage and/or min. rates of pay? What the logic behind the round number you've chosen? 4. Application - make it accessible! You don't need that many questions or to ask artists to collate documents, CV's and examples of work - two questions, a link and some simple data (FYI gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class, disability ain't tick boxes they are paragraphs!) 5. Expenses, Per Diems, Travel - if you have an interview process you have to cover any expenses, per diems if travelling out of town and travel costs - you should be upfront about that, don't let applicants ask for it - you hold the power and purse strings. 6. Notify Everyone - regardless how many people applied you have to let those that didn't make the cut know. This is always sticky and not fun but don't keep people hanging on. Its unacceptable to say "If you haven't heard by... we're sorry" - a blanket email with some context bare min. 7. Be Upfront! You might not have all the resources needed to cover travel, per diems etc. You might be expecting the fee to cover production costs. Set this out on your application, be clear, concise and honest. Scottee X


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