W.A.G.E.

Providers are becoming W.A.G.E. certified to show they’ve made a commitment to operate ethically in relation to artists and wish to have this commitment acknowledged by their communities.

A W.A.G.E. Certified organization signals that it stands in solidarity with artists as part of an equitable community no matter what their material practice or reputation might be.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Paying Artists

Budgeting to Pay Artists

Our organization works with artists in many capacities – we teach artists, we ask artists to perform at festivals and run hands-on activities, we find them opportunities like when we recently booked an act for the City Council swearing in ceremony. They are all local paid artists. We have our monthly third Saturday event here on the center’s campus. Those artists get paid. We actually pay an independent curator. That was actually where the idea for our bigger festival came from. We were hiring an independent curator to curate each event and design the whole thing and that idea of actually paying local artists to be curators was something new for us that started with the one event and now has sparked to the full big festival in March. So, we pay a lot of artists. And then we also pay the touring, national and international, artists for our performing live program, which is our big presenting program. This year’s budget for artist fees is well over $2,000,000. So we’re paying a lot of artists.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Paying Artists

Changing Perceptions

Artists who we invite to co-present workshops, convenings and meet & greet encounters are continually surprised when we mention that we will be remunerating their services through AZ ArtWorker. I seem to encounter the general perception that artists and culture-workers are lucky to be in these roles; therefore, we need not remunerate their work when it is not a tangible thing that we can touch and admire.

It has been most rewarding to treat local Arizona artists with the same degree of thoughtfulness and respect and financial support that we offer our national and international artistic partners. Changing and engaging in conversations around money and fair compensation of intangible creative work has been an unexpected and welcome part of the work the initiative is undertaking.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Paying Artists

Jazz Festival

All artists receive payment or honorarium for any services they provide in partnership or on behalf of our organization, even those that we commission for public art or those that are contracted to perform during the jazz festival. Most times artists invoice us for any service that they provide to us or for us. They invoice us, so for projects that are grant funded, we adhere to the budget amount that was submitted in the grant proposal. That is communicated to the artists prior to them being commissioned so that they are aware of what the artist fee would be. As far as the artists that perform in the festival, they are on contract. So they tell us what their contract fee is to perform. That is working with all artists on all the stages. For any other service that we need we ask artists for an invoice and they tell us what their rate is.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Paying Artists

Always Pay Artists

It is our practice to always pay individual artists. We understand that we would never ask any other profession, any other person who relies on their talent, skill, intellect, to give their services freely unless it were explicit that it was a volunteer opportunity or something that fell in the realm of philanthropy. So, it is always our practice to pay artists for the work that we ask of them. We often get third party requests. Someone will come to us and say, “Could you get an artist to donate their time to create a mural?” or “Could you get an artist…” and we are very clear that they need to negotiate that with the individual artist and that we ourselves are not in the practice of asking artists to do things for free in the open market. We pay artists to do collateral for us, to create marketing materials, graphic design materials, and we always pay them for that. We help facilitate a festival here and we ask artists to contribute to the festival through panels, discussions, and participation in workshops. We pay them for their participation in those endeavors. Whenever we do workshops or ask an artist to provide their perspective or their insight or their direct talent, to informing the community or any other work we pay them to do that. We also pay them to perform: we haven’t really done formal fundraisers, but if there’s an event that we are sponsoring or supporting and we want to engage artistic practice in that, we make sure that we budget for artists to participate.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Paying Artists

Statewide Arts Convening

We often think about paying artists during our state-wide arts convening, which is for both individual artists and arts organizations to build networks and introduce new concepts. As an agency is that we’re working really hard for the norm to be that we always pay artists. We are also in a position of feeling that we would like to pay individual artists more for their work. So, during convenings, we will pay artists, via contract, to perform – or, present or do contracted work. And then times that we haven’t paid artists, we usually work to compensate them with a full conference attendance fee waiver. It’s a way to provide a non-monetary incentive or non-monetary benefit to them as a professional artist.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Struggle Paying Artists

Tickets instead of pay

There was one time very early on in the creative catalyst program, when our creative catalyst coordinator was working on an art demo project. There was a festival downtown and the creative catalyst wanted to do something with it so they went out and recruited a bunch of aerosol artists to use these art cubes we had built, doing aerosol art outside onsite at this festival as a part of community engagement for creative catalyst. When I realized that they had lined up all these artists that were willing to donate their services – the only thing we had done was buy the paint – it actually bothered me because we don’t generally ask artists to work for nothing. So, as a thank you to them, because they were already lined up and the event was about to happen, we ended up giving all the artists who participated vouchers for tickets to come see a show. They got two free tickets to a show of their choice.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Give Up Paying Artists