2010 W.A.G.E. Survey
A downloadable two-sided poster of the survey results in graphic form is available here
The purpose of the W.A.G.E. Survey was to gather information about the economic experiences of visual and performing artists exhibiting in non-profit exhibition spaces and museums in New York City between 2005 and 2010. The survey was distributed in two parts: one that gathered information about small to medium sized non-profit arts organizations and another that gathered information about large non-profit arts organizations and museums; the questions and structure of each were identical and only differed by their lists of institutions.
The survey was launched on September 22, 2010 and remained open until May 1, 2011. It collected responses anonymously, and was distributed via Web and Email outreach using W.A.G.E.'s mailing list, Facebook, various LISTSERVS, and an e-flux announcement. The combined reach of these mailings was to approximately 50,000 people. A total of 731 respondents provided data about Small to Medium Non-profit Institutions, while 246 respondents provided data about Large Non-profit Institutions and Museums.
This report was commissioned by W.A.G.E. and compiled by Sherry X. Xian of the Survey Research Institute at Cornell University. Her analysis combines the data of both surveys unless otherwise indicated and provides analysis only where significant differentiation within the data was noted.
Demographic information is representative of the 977 respondents who began the survey but not necessarily of those who provided specific information about their payment experiences, since only 577 of those who answered demographic questions also exhibited in a non-profit arts institution between 2005-2010.
- 43% were between 31 to 40 years old.
- 60% were male and about 2% were transgender.
- 46% did not rent a studio outside of their residence.
- 26% spent less than $5,000 in annual studio rent.
Number of Artists who received Any Form of Payment
- On average, the majority (58.4%) of respondents did not receive any form of payment, compensation or reimbursement for their participation, including the coverage of any expenses.
Number of Artists who received Any Form of Payment relative to the Number of Artists in the Exhibition
Respondents were asked to define the size of the exhibition within three different categories: solo exhibition, 2-5 artists and 6 artists or more. Results were compared using the number of artists in an exhibition as a factor.
- For solo exhibitions, 73% reported that they received some form of payment while 27% received no payment.
- For exhibitions involving 2-5 artists, compensation occurred 53% of the time.
- For exhibitions with 6 or more artists, 69% did not receive any form of compensation.
Any Form of Payment by Institution
This data illustrates whether or not artists received any form of payment, compensation or reimbursement from specific institutions, including the coverage of any expenses. The institutions included in this table are those for which there were 4 or more respondents.
Significantly more respondents received some form of payment from:
- Creative Time (87.5% vs. 12.5% who did not)
- Sculpture Center (83% vs. 17% who did not)
- Socrates Sculpture Park (86% vs. 14% who did not)
- The Kitchen (100% received payment).
Significantly more respondents reported that they did not receive any form of payment from:
- Exit Art (88.5% vs. 11.5% who did)
- Performa (92.3% vs. 7.7% who did)
Type of Exhibition and Size of Artist Fee received
When respondents reported having received an honorarium or artist fee for their participation in an exhibition, separate from the coverage of any shipping, installation or travel expenses, they were asked to define the amount of within 9 ranges. The following notes any significant differences within those ranges.
- For solo exhibitions, 26% received an artist fee anywhere between $2,000 and $4,999, while 19% did not receive any honorarium.
- For exhibitions involving 2-5 artists, 47% received an honorarium between $100 and $500, while 22% did not receive any artist fee.
- For exhibitions involving 6 or more artists, 48% received less than $300 honorarium, while 40% did not receive a fee.
- Number of Respondents per Institution
- P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center had the highest percentage of respondents (7%). This may have occurred because P.S.1 was listed on both surveys in error.
- A total of 18% of respondents reported that they did not exhibit in any non-profit institution between 2005 and 2010.
- 18% of respondents exhibited in non-profit institutions not listed in the survey. These institutions were compiled and listed together in an 'Other' category.
Amount of Artist Fee Received by Institution
This analysis does not indicate differences in the size of the artist fee received in relation to the size of exhibition. It provides analysis of the artist fee received by specific institutions.
- There was no significant difference between the ranges of payment between the two surveys, which were separated into Small to Medium Institutions and Large Institutions and Museums.
- 44% of those who exhibited at P.S.1. Contemporary Art Center, and 50% of those who exhibited at Queens Museum of Art reported that they did not receive an artist fee or honorarium.
- All of those who exhibited at Smack Mellon received an artist fee or honorarium, with 43% receiving between $100 and $299, and another 43% receiving between $1,500 and $5,000.
- 59% of respondents who indicated that they exhibited in 'other' small to medium sized non-profit institutions received artist fees ranging from $25 to $300, while 18% did not receive any.
Coverage of Installation Expenses
Respondents were asked how much of their installation expenses were covered by the institution using four different categories: None, Partial, All, and Had No Expenses.
- 42% were fully covered by institutions for their installation expenses.
- 34% were partially covered.
- 10% were not covered.
- The remaining 14% had no installation expenses.
- Gender differences in the Coverage of Travel Expenses
- 69% of female respondents reported that they did not have any travel expenses, and of the remaining 31% who did, only 10% of them were partially or fully compensated for their expenses.
- 45% of male respondents reported that they did not have any travel expenses, and of the remaining 55% who did, 50% of them were partially or fully compensated for their expenses.
The 2010 W.A.G.E. Survey poster, designed by Common Space Studio and including a drawing by William Powhida, can be downloaded here. Published in 2012.