What follows is W.A.G.E. Certification as of January 1, 2013. The program remains in development but these are its central principles.
Principle 1: Equity
W.A.G.E. demands compensation for the cultural content that we provide within the non-profit sector. Without the contribution and participation of cultural producers, arts institutions would cease to function. Core to W.A.G.E. Certification is a redefinition of equity that stems from this principle:
Equity begins with recognizing that the contribution made by cultural producers is integral to the functioning of an arts institution.
Financial compensation for this contribution acknowledges its value.
Payment must be conceived and established in direct relation to what an institution chooses to pay its employees and subcontractors.
Principle 2: Wage for Work
W.A.G.E. is not demanding compensation for work that may have been done prior to entering into a relation with an arts institution; rather, we're demanding to be compensated once the work(s) enter the marketplace. Non-profits are, without exception, part of the marketplace. The machinations of the non-profit institutional arts sector are inextricably intertwined with valuation within the commercial auction and sales markets. When cultural producers collaborate with an arts organization to participate in an exhibition, performance, lecture, screening etc., we are entering into a transactional, contractual and recognizable work relationship.
Principle 3: From Each According to its Ability
Instead of applying a single fee schedule to the great variation of arts presenting organizations, exhibition types and modes of production, W.A.G.E. Certification considers the particularities and contingencies of each organization on a case-by-case basis. W.A.G.E. Certification first examines the conditions under which an institution operates, and then redefines what equity means under those conditions using the artist fee as a starting point.
For example, an organization's relationship to real estate: does it rent or own? Its age: is it long established or newly formed? What are its long-term and short-term investment and funding strategies? What is its mission? What is its total operating budget? Does it have an endowment? How many exhibitions does it produce each year and how many cultural producers tend to participate annually? How much does it spend on the production of new work in mounting an exhibition or working with an artist? W.A.G.E. gathers this information through an Intake Form
, which in its current configuration can be found here
Once we have a complete picture of how an organization derives its income and chooses to spend it, we can begin to consider what fairness and equity are within the context of what is fundamentally a micro-economy, and one whose non-profit status makes it exceptional in its ability to determine wages and salaries independent of profit motive. W.A.G.E. Certification determines the artist fee with this in mind, and uses it as a starting point in looking at all
of the workers within its organizational structure, including non-artistic labor.
1. Artist Fees must be paid.
2. The Artist Fee is separate from, and must not be used to cover travel, lodging, installation, shipping or any other expenses associated with production.
3. 'Artist Fees' must be included as a distinct and visible line item in annual operating and program budgets.
4. The size of the fee is determined in direct relation to:
• Size of annual operating budget
• The salaries of other employees and subcontracted workers who provide services and content, including the director, curator, administrators, designers, art handlers, assistants, and janitorial staff, among others.
• When decreases in funding occur, the artist fee will only be reduced along with reductions to other expenses which may include salaries, marketing, fundraising, entertainment, travel, research & development, among others.