W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy) is a research and advocacy group dedicated to correcting the common assumption that it’s okay for nonprofit institutions to not pay exhibiting artists for their labor because their work will be rewarded with “exposure” and/or “prestige.” Founded in 2008 and incorporated as a nonprofit in 2012, W.A.G.E. has sought to educate and raise consciousness around economic inequity in the arts through giving speeches, making videos, holding open teach-ins and workshops, and “W.A.G.E. RAGING” in panel discussions and symposia around the world.
After several years of intensive research and dialogue, W.A.G.E. has now launched W.A.G.E. Certification, the first program to publicly recognize nonprofit arts organizations that demonstrate a history of, and commitment to, voluntarily paying artist fees. With its clearly defined, sector-wide, minimum payment standards, calculated according to an institution’s annual budget, W.A.G.E. Certification is designed to be a tool for systematically creating a more equitable playing field for all cultural producers.
There is a lot of work ahead, as the W.A.G.E. team prepares to move forward with their goal of negotiating with and subsequently certifying the thousands of nonprofit art institutions throughout the country. For that reason, they’ve launched a funding campaign to pay for their direct overhead costs and their own labor, which up until this point has largely been done on a volunteer basis. Their goal of $75,000 is modest when you consider the amount of work that has already gone into this project, and the extensive and real impact it could have on American artists’ income for a long time to come.
Donate today and show your support for the cause. Every little bit helps!