EARights continue to follow the good work of Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.) in The United States. W.A.G.E. Certification was launched in 2014 as a national programme that publicly recognises those nonprofit arts organisations demonstrating a history of, and commitment to, voluntarily paying artist fees that meet W.A.G.E. minimum payment standards – see certification info.
This Certification was initiated in the absence of government regulation and with the understanding that the nonprofit sector is not capable of regulating itself. There are currently 56 organisations that have voluntary W.A.G.E. Certification, but at the museum level how much to pay artists and who gets to determine it are contentious issues. Museums have resisted following guidelines by W.A.G.E. and other forms of standardised payment practice. This is why the decision by the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania to become the first W.A.G.E. Certified museum (in March 2018) is so significant. It demonstrates that a museum is capable of meeting external payment standards, and more importantly that those standards can be set by workers. In practice it means that the ICA Philadelphia will pay fees according to a minimum schedule determined by its operating expenses of $4.8/€4.1 million in the 2018 programme.
W.A.G.E. have a link to their Fee Calculator for all certified organisations, here.
The Fee Calculator is a 3-tiered system that determines fair compensation using two mechanisms: it establishes an industry-wide minimum (FLOOR W.A.G.E.) for fees in 14 categories, and it scales these fees up from the floor using a fixed percentage of an organisations total operating expenses.
Published in July 2018