Since its inception, Corner has been committed to the principles set forth by W.A.G.E. Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.) has made it their mission to get more artists paid fairly for their labor. They clearly and directly identify some of the key mindsets, both among artists and throughout the market, that keep us from claiming our time and effort as billable services. They create advocacy tools we can all use, such as the fee calculator, which determines a fair artist fee for different categories of exhibitions based on size of the producing institution. Find other incredible resources and readings on their website, including the survey they undertook between 2005-2010 in New York City. The results are represented in the two-sided pamphlet copied below. The comments on the second page will raise your blood-pressure and inspire you to take action in support of our community.
Here, in full, is W.A.G.E.'s wo/manifesto:
W.A.G.E. (WORKING ARTISTS AND THE GREATER ECONOMY) 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 PROACTIVELY 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 AND INSTITUTION.
W.A.G.E. DEMANDS PAYMENT FOR MAKING THE WORLD MORE INTERESTING.
"Standard Deviation—a multiphase project that includes a series of conversations, a printed broadside for distribution, and an online forum—addresses these questions so that artists might identify the kinds of opportunities that serve their artistic goals and help them sustain viable practices over time."- Helena Keeffe, Art Practical
If you're an artist struggling alone, eye-brows deep in the hustle, and it feels daunting to get up to speed on national conversations about art and labor, here's a sweet little broadside to ease you in.
In 2013, Helena Keeffe got artists in the Bay Area together for a conversation very much like those we are hoping to have this November, asking "What kinds of strategies might artists employ to create a sense of agency when it comes to artistic production? What are the key questions artists should ask themselves in seeking to define standards for valuing their labor?" They collected their output in a website and a broadside, which are excellent primers on both the history of artist-labor initiatives in the United States and the existing toolkits and concrete actions artists can use to advocate for their work.
Read Helene Keeffe and Art Practical's Patricia Maloney's reflection on Standard Deviation here: http://www.artpractical.com/feature/standard_deviation/ Make sure to scroll all the way down to the bottom to check out the related readings!
Download the Standard Deviation Broadside here:
Art Practical and the artists involved in Standard Deviation were also involved in 2014/15 organizing conversations through UC Berkeley's Arts Research Center. We'll be linking to more of their work in upcoming posts.
This blog is a collection of research and reflections produced in the planning of the Art + Value Conversations. It includes histories of artist labor organizing and activism in the US and abroad, advocacy toolkits for artists, personal narratives, and academic articles. We hope it will be a useful resource for Chicago artists to frame the Art + Value Conversations