Download a PDF of Definitions & Requirements here
"Artist" refers to all those who supply content and services in a non-profit visual arts presenting context, including visual artists, performers, dancers, poets, filmmakers, writers, and musicians among others. W.A.G.E. does not distinguish between individual and collective/collaborative providers of content and services. All are covered under the term "artist." W.A.G.E. does distinguish between the "Contracted Artist" who has been engaged by an organization to participate in programs, and the "Sub-Contracted Artist" who may be engaged by an artist to participate in a project or program.
II. Non-Profit Arts Organization
A non-profit arts organization refers to 501(c)3 tax exempt arts organizations and institutions that produce programs and exhibitions for a viewing public in a visual arts presenting context, as well as programs and services that engage and support the practices of artists, but do not necessarily engage a viewing public directly.
III. Artist Fee
An artist fee is compensation for time-limited content and services provided by artists to non-profit arts organizations as contracted by non-profit arts organizations in the course of mounting programs, as defined by their mission. The artist fee is distinct and separate from basic programming costs and services, production expenses, and the purchase of art works or copyrights. Payment of an artist fee does not imply the transfer of ownership or rights from artist to organization. Any transfer of ownership or rights must be negotiated between artist and organization under a separate agreement. The payment of artist fees meeting the minimum standard as determined by the W.A.G.E. Fee Calculator is required for W.A.G.E. Certification. "Artist Fees" must be listed as its own distinct and visible line item in exhibition and operating budgets.
IV. Basic Programming Costs and Services
An artist fee is distinct and separate from basic programming costs and services. Basic programming costs are the costs associated with the basic requirements of mounting programs as defined by the organization's mission and are irrespective of specific content. These basic requirements also constitute the basic programming services an organization must provide to artists in mounting programs. The provision of basic programming costs and services are required for W.A.G.E. Certification and include:
• Provision of exhibition, performance, or projection space
• Preparation of exhibition, performance, or projection space for the program
• Shipping and insurance costs when necessary
• Presentation infrastructure, including display equipment, exhibition furniture and lighting
• Documentation of exhibition or event
• Promotion of exhibition or event
• Travel and accommodation when necessary
• Obtaining and paying for image rights for commissioned and existing texts
Criteria for organizations supporting non-material practices that are not exhibition or program-based, and whose presentation or execution does not utilize physical space are in development.
V. Production Costs
Production costs are also distinct and separate from basic programming costs and services, and from investments an organization may make in display equipment or exhibition furniture in conjunction with the presentation of a specific program when these remain the property of the organization for future use. The organization may negotiate reimbursement of production expenses if the work is sold subsequent to exhibition. Production costs may include (but are not limited to):
• Fabrication of work
• Specialized installation expenses above and beyond basic programming costs and services
• Studio rental
• Equipment rental
• Subcontracted labor by graphic designers, fabricators, performers, lighting designers, etc.
The coverage of production costs by the organization is not required for W.A.G.E. Certification. However, W.A.G.E. Certified organizations may not reduce or omit artist fees in connection with the coverage of production costs. Production costs and artist fees must constitute their own separate and distinct line items in exhibition and operating budgets.
VI. Fee Categories
W.A.G.E. has identified fourteen units of content or services commonly supplied by artists in a non-profit visual arts presenting context:
1. Solo Exhibition
is an exhibition focused on a single artist. It may extend across a full floor or a series of spaces or include a series of programs. It may involve existing, new and commissioned work and often involves the presentation of a number of different works and the publication of a catalog. A Solo Exhibition is defined as inclusive of a range of content and services, including some of the categories listed below (performances, programming, screenings).
2. Solo Project
is the presentation of commissioned work by a single artist that comprises a single work, body of work or project.
3. 2-Person Exhibition
is an exhibition focused on the work of two artists. This may involve existing, new or commissioned work.
4. Group Exhibition, 3 - 5 Artists
is an exhibition focused on the work of three to five artists. This includes works of performance.
5. Group Exhibition, 6+ Artists
is an exhibition focused on the work of six or more artists, including a recurring survey exhibition such as a biennial. This includes works of performance.
6. Performance of Existing Work
is for each performance of an existing work. Fees in this category are paid to the Contracted Artist. For fees to other performers see "Day Rate for Performers".
7. Performance, Commission of New Work
is a new performance work commissioned by a host institution. Fees in this category are paid to the Contracted Artist. Fees to other performers are dispensed under 'Day Rate for Performers'.
8. Solo Screening with In-Person Appearance
is the screening of a film or video accompanied by an in-person appearance by the artist. The continuous screening of a film or video in an exhibition is covered under exhibition categories listed above. In the case of both single and continuous screening, institutions are not required to pay an artist fee if a fee is paid to a distributor.
9. Event with Multiple Participants
is a single event with three or more artists. This may take the form of a presentation of discrete works including but not limited to performance, screening, or reading, or it may be a panel discussion.
10. Artist Talk or Reading
is the delivery by a single participant of an existing lecture or visual presentation of works, or the reading of a text to an audience.
is the delivery of a new keynote presentation, new lecture or a new interactive seminar or workshop by an artist.
12. Existing Text for Publication
is the reprinting of an existing text in a publication issued by an organization.
13. Commissioned Text for Publication
is a new essay or text commissioned for publication by an organization. (Copyright remains with the artist/author: payment of a fee does not render the commission "work for hire.")
14. Day Rate for Performers
are fees paid to performers participating in commissioned and existing performances created by the Contracted Artist. Fees are paid to performers directly by the organization.
VII. Fee Calculation
W.A.G.E. Certification sets standards of compensation to be paid to artists for the fourteen fee categories listed above. The level of compensation an organization must provide in order to be W.A.G.E. Certified is determined by its projected total annual operating expenses
(TAOE). Fees for each category are calculated as a fixed percentage of each organization's TAOE by W.A.G.E.'s Fee Calculator
and are assigned to each organization as part of the Certification process. The assigned level of compensation will fall into one of the following three tiers:
1. Floor W.A.G.E.
for organizations with Total Annual Operating Expenses below $500,000. Organizations with TAOE below $500,000 must pay fees at floor level in order to be certified.
2. Minimum W.A.G.E.
for organizations with Total Annual Operating Expenses above $500,000.
Organizations with TAOE over $500,000 must pay Minimum W.A.G.E. fees in order to be certified. Fees must be no less than the specified fixed percentage of the organization's TAOE, scaled up from the compensation floor, or 'Floor W.A.G.E.'.
Scaling for fee categories 12 to 14 for organizations with TAOE between $500,000 and $5,000,000:
• Existing Text for Publication: $50 minimum fee or 10% of the rate the organization would pay for a Commissioned Text for Publication, whichever is higher.
• Commissioned Text for Publication: Between $0.25/Word and $1.00/Word.
• Day Rate for Performers: $20/hour or $100/Day, whichever is higher. $200/Day is recommended for organizations with TAOE over $5,000,000.
3. Maximum W.A.G.E.
for organizations with Total Annual Operating Expenses over approximately $15,000,000. Institutions with TAOE of approximately $15,000,000 and over must not exceed a specified maximum rate of compensation. At the maximum rate, or 'Maximum W.A.G.E.' compensation at the Solo Exhibition rate is capped at the average salary of the institution's full-time employees. An average salary varies from institution to institution, but has been estimated at $30,000; W.A.G.E. will use an institution's actual average salary when working with it during the process of certification. Fees for each of the other thirteen categories are calculated as a proportion of the Solo Exhibition rate, with the exception of Existing Text for Publication, Commissioned Text for Publication, and Day Rate for Performers. Fees in these categories must not exceed the rate specified for TAOE of $5,000,000 (except
Day Rate for Performers for which $200/day is recommended for organizations with TAOE over $5,000,000).
To view illustrated reference tables and to use the Fee Calculator click here