Report work group Fees & Conditions

This post is also available in: Dutch

Together with the Norwegian Association of Curators and W.A.G.E. Platform BK presided a work group about Fees & Conditions on Monday 27 November 2017 at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem. The work group was part of the three-day international gathering Humans of the Institution that took place in Amsterdam. Humans of the Institution called upon people to analyse various aspects of the position of freelancers in the arts in relation to cultural institutions. On Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 November various speakers addressed themes such as boycot, emancipation, sustainability, globalisation, democracy and social networks, which are of importance to freelancers (primarily curators) worldwide. The Norwegian Association of Curators, W.A.G.E. and Platform BK were asked to share their knowledge concerning fees and conditions, and their experience with developing a guideline for artists’ fees.

The work group Fees & Conditions consisted of curators and artists with diverse professional backgrounds from nine different countries from Europe and North America. Martin Braathen and Silja Leifsdottir of the Norwegian Association of Curators spoke about a survey that they had conducted among their members, 75 curators in Norway. An interesting outcome showed that curators have a greater desire to work for a museum, than museums do to hire independent curators. Museums do however appreciate the benefit of engaging the knowledge and networks of multiple independent curators without a long lasting connection through contracts. Lise Soskolne of W.A.G.E. gave insight into the ways that W.A.G.E. has committed itself to sustainable economic relationships in the contemporary non-profit visual arts sector in the United States since 2008. W.A.G.E. vouches for self regulation of the sector and has developed a fee calculator and certificates. More than fifty percent of the non-profit organisations are now certified, which means they follow and apply the W.A.G.E. guideline for minimum fees. Joram Kraaijeveld and Rune Peitersen gave insight into the development of the guideline for artists’ fees in the Netherlands and the launch of a calculator on kunstenaarshonorarium.nl.

In conjunction with the other five work groups of Humans of the Institution, the work group Fees & Conditions concluded with a statement that will be published on www.internationaleonline.org in February 2018. The work group has drafted a list of activities a curator regularly executes for their work, which indicates a growing precarity of the independent curator. The group was convinced that the efforts for artists’ fees can serve as an example for more honest fees and conditions for independent curators.  It is important to note that the people in the work group all realised that honest working conditions of freelancers within the sector could lead to a decrease in production. They understood that the battle for an honest pay is part of a larger battle for social justice. They were convinced that transparance about payment and fees is beneficial for the entire sector. Another important issue that rose during this meeting is that it it important to say no to practices that are not fair, to make them visible and to approach them as a collective. Lastly the work group thinks it necessary to conduct further research to find out whether independent curators prefer a fee or a salary according to a collective labour agreement. Some of the curators present considered this work group and the call for transparency a motivation to involve themselves directly in the continuation of these questions. Together with Platform BK they will work on improving the fees and conditions of independent curators.