Since W.A.G.E.'s early origins as an activist group through the shift into a *non-bureaucratic* 501(c)3 nonprofit, our approach to organizing has remained consistent. As an active participant in the art system, we have sought to change institutional practices from within. This has often required working both against and with art institutions at the same time — publicly calling them out for exploiting unpaid labor while introducing tools to stop it and mobilizing people to use them. Here you will find documentation of some of that work in the form of data analysis, policy development and collaboration.
Especially in its early days, W.A.G.E.'s work took place in direct response to conditions in the field as we found them. Gathering data about those conditions helped us understand more precisely what the problem was and conceive of tools to fix it. Today, one of those tools, W.A.G.E. Certification, does its own work of gathering data: W.A.G.E. Certified institutions are required to report compensation details about every artist fee they pay out each fiscal year. From this aggregated and anonymized data, we can now do our own ongoing analysis of material conditions as they evolve.
In Fall 2010 W.A.G.E. launched an online survey to gather information about the experiences of visual and performing artists with the payment practices of nonprofit organizations in New York's five boroughs between 2005 and 2010. With almost 1,000 respondents, the results of the W.A.G.E. Survey became a key tool in concretely illustrating — and documenting — the common practice of non-payment. Go to page .
In October 2019, W.A.G.E. commissioned The Cornell University Survey Research Institute to produce a report analyzing data provided by W.A.G.E. Certified art institutions during W.A.G.E. Certification's first 5 years of operation. The W.A.G.E data set includes payment records from between December 6th, 2013 and November 16th, 2019. During this time period, a total of $5,557,516 was paid out in artist fees through 6,970 transactions. Go to page .
W.A.G.E.'s methedology for developing policy frameworks has evolved out of the various activist, administrative, pedagogical and organizational contexts we work within. Long periods of informal field research culled from the perspectives of multiple constituencies — artists, institutions, and art workers — leads into sketching out in policy terms what a framework could look like and how it might be integrated into W.A.G.E.’s mission and long term goals. Once the direction and desired outcomes are clear, we start building outward. This involves inviting people and organizations external to W.A.G.E. into focused discussions oriented toward a specified policy outcome. Whether working groups, roundtables, or formal summits, these gatherings are closed to the public but the preparatory materials have been made available on the pages linked to below.
Produced between 2012 and 2014, the materials cataloged on this page trace the development of W.A.G.E. Certification as its core principles and policy began to take shape. Some materials were intended for internal use while others, like graphics and posters, were designed for public talks. Go to materials .
The development of WAGENCY began in 2015 shortly after the launch of W.A.G.E. Certification. Over the following 3 years it grew from its initial conception as an individual certification program into an artists' solidarity union and platform for negotiating, transacting, and withholding labor. The internal working documents cataloged on this page track the emergence of WAGENCY's policy framework. Go to materials .
W.A.G.E.'s interest in contractual materials dates back to our founding in 2008, but work on legal tools didn't begin in earnest until 2015. Since then, we have considered contracts, riders, and work agreements as solutions to a multitude of problems including artists' resale and moral rights, NDA reform, exhibition fees for collected works, and the widespread exploitation of freelance labor across the supply chain. Go to materials .
Collaboration has been vital to W.A.G.E.'s work. This section reflects on the role it has played over the years. Whether co-organizing and co-authoring or discussion and knowledge sharing, each exchange has contributed mightily. Over time, some collaborations informally recurred while others grew into formal partnerships. Where collaboration was ongoing or produced material important to W.A.G.E.'s trajectory, we have made it available here to serve as both a living archive and a resource.
We called you out. You called us in. We called you out. You called us in. Nothing changed.
Long term relationship: partnering with institutions.
Beyond the myopia of the artist fee and toward an anti-racist cultural policy for NYC.
Aligning struggles. And when policymaking is not enough.
Artist Communities Alliance AnkhLave Arts Alliance The Architecture Lobby Art Handler Art Handlxrs* Art Handlers Alliance of New York ArtLeaks Art Workers Council Frankfurt / M (Germany) Arts Workers for Black Lives The Artists Information Company (a-n, UK) Artists of Color Bloc Artists Rights Society Artist Studio Affordability Project Artists Union England (UK) Artquest London (UK) ARTS.BLACK Arts Makers Aotearoa (New Zealand) BFAMFAPHD CARFAC (Canada) Common Field Common Practice London Common Practice New York Compensation Foundation Creating New Futures Dance Artists' National Collective Furtherafield (UK) Disability/Arts/NYC (DANT) Free Slow University (Poland) Glass Bead (France) Guerrilla Girls Gulf Labor G.U.L.F. Haben & Brauchen (Germany) HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN Intern Labor Rights Internationale Gesellschaft der Bildenden Künste (IGBK, Germany) Level It Look at Art. Get Paid Los Angeles Artist Census MayDay Rooms (UK) Model Alliance Murphy Institute Museum Hue National Performance Network National Writers Union not/nowhere (UK) Norwegian Association of Curators (Norway) Occupy Museums OWS Arts & Labor Platform BK (Netherlands) Precarious Workers Brigade (UK) Reko (Sweden) Scottish Artists Union (UK) Sol Center for Liberated Work Teaching Artists Guild Teamsters Local 814 Unge Kunstneres Samfund / Young Artists’ Society (UKS, Norway) za K.R.U.H. (Croatia)
.… as well as the ILR School of Cornell University’s Arts and Entertainment Worker Resource Center in coalition with Actors' Equity, American Guild of Musical Artists, IATSE Local 764, IATSE Local 798, Local 600 International Cinematographers Guild, Local 802 Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Writers Guild of America, East.