Over the years, W.A.G.E. has collected data, written texts and open letters, made speeches, videos and graphics, taught, conducted research, and learned through discussion. The materials catalogued below include short form texts circulated as (administrative) direct action, published writing, transcripts of talks and speeches, a 2019 report on the first five years of W.A.G.E. Certification, the 2010 W.A.G.E. Survey, videos, a selected history of artist organizing, a reading list, and press coverage of W.A.G.E.'s work.
Building on Guidelines for the Postponement or Cancellation of Work, this announcement introduced a set of suggested best practice protocols for institutions for the compensation for online content, layoff and furlough transparency, and the distribution of emergency funding. April 13, 2020.
This announcement introduced some basic guidelines to be used by artists and nonprofit institutions as we began to navigate the future of work in our field during the pandemic. March 27, 2020.
A follow-up to W.A.G.E.'s Invitation to Artists Participating in the 2019 Whitney Biennial, this call invited all artists to join in pressuring the Whitney Museum, recognizing that those of us not chosen for the 2019 Whitney Biennial could just as easily be selected in 2021, 2023, 2025, 2027 and every two years henceforth. Circulated February 18, 2019.
W.A.G.E.'s contribution to Decolonize This Place's campaign challenging the Whitney Museum to remove its Vice Chairman, Warren Kanders. Find the original invitation here, and read more about the context for this action in W.A.G.E.'s history here. Circulated January 23, 2019.
Using WAGENCY, W.A.G.E. drafted and sent a Fee Request on behalf of Decolonize This Place for $383 million to Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History, as well as to other museum staff. This symbolic action was intended to call attention to the AMNH's prioritizing of capital investment over the urgent need to decolonize its holdings. October 2018.
A text published in Blackout 0: Art Labour, at the invitation of Art Work(ers), a research project by ECAV/Ecole Cantonale d'Art du Valais, November 2017.
The announcement of seven newly certified organizations and some post-inauguration thoughts on why art institutions must confront both racial and economic justice. Circulated on February 13, 2017.
An update on the development of WAGENCY, posted on wageforwork.com on January 19, 2017.
Written for and presented at Wages of Whiteness in the Art Economy, a roundtable at Artists Space, NY on December 10, 2016. This event was co-organized by W.A.G.E. and MTL+, and included speakers Mabel Wilson, David Joselit, Amin Husain, Eva Mayhabal Davis, Nia Nottage, Sneha Ganguly, and Lise Soskolne (for W.A.G.E.). Moderated by Andrew Ross.
An open letter to 'artist' and an introduction to WAGENCY, circulated on November 21, 2016.
A text commissioned (for free) by ARTnews in August 2016 in answer to the question: What is wrong with the art world and how would you fix it?
An open letter to the New Museum, written and circulated in response to the museum's announcement of expansion plans in May 2016. Circulated on May 16, 2016.
An email exchange with the New Museum, W.A.G.E.'s contribution to Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good, 2015. Published in 2016.
Written for and presented at We (Not I) at Artists Space, NY in October 2015, as part of a roundtable with Silvia Federici, Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, and Melanie Gilligan, facilitated by Marina Vishmidt.
A text written for and presented at The Alliance of Artists Communities Annual Conference in October 2015, representing W.A.G.E.'s initial thoughts on guidelines for compensation within residency programs.
A text commissioned for SUPERCOMMUNITY, e-flux journal's contribution to the 56th Venice Biennale.
A text written for and read at The Artist As Debtor: Art in the Age of Speculative Capitalism in New York in January, 2015, and at Public Assets: Small-Scale Arts Organisations and the Production of Value in London, February, 2015.
A speech given at a dinner at the Museum fur Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt on March 1, 2013 as part of artist Andrea Büttner's exhibition.
An illustrated PDF, #17 in Printed Matter's Artists & Activists series, published by Printed Matter, Inc.
How to announce to your board that your organization is going to pay artist fees.
An intervention at the New Museum (all ethics have left the building and mother is turning in her grave).
An open letter to the institution from W.A.G.E.
As requested by X Initiative for publication in Charley Magazine, W.A.G.E. 'reviews' our participation in No Soul For Sale. No response, never published.
As requested by X Initiative for publication in Charley Magazine, W.A.G.E. 'reviews' our participation in No Soul For Sale, 2009. No response, never published.
During W.A.G.E. Certification's first 5 years of operation, over $5.5 million was paid out in artist fees through nearly 7,000 transactions. Using data gathered through the program's administration, this three-level report is based on analysis by the Cornell University Survey Research Institute as commissioned by W.A.G.E. in September 2019 to mark the program's fifth birthday. Click here to read the report.
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.
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.
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:
Significantly more respondents reported that they did not receive any form of payment from:
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.
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.
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.
Made in response to an off-the-cuff remark by the Artistic Director of dOCUMENTA (13). 2013. We R not amused. Watch in full screen for best effect! Or view here.
Creative Time presents Democracy in America: W.A.G.E. at the Park Avenue Armory. 2008. Video by Benjamin Brown.
W.A.G.E. Womanifesto, broadcast on Manhattan Neighborhood Network, made as a Performa09 TV Commission with CIRCULAR FILE.
W.A.G.E. RAGE, broadcast on Manhattan Neighborhood Network, made as a Performa09 TV Commission with CIRCULAR FILE.
Dear Arts Administrator, broadcast on Manhattan Neighborhood Network, made as a Performa09 TV Commission with CIRCULAR FILE.
Fighting censorship and advocating for artists' interests and welfare, the Artists' Committee of Action was formed by Hugo Gellert, Saul Belman, Stuart Davis, and Zoltan Hecht soon after a protest they had organized in response to the destruction of Diego Rivera's pro-labor mural at Rockefeller Center.
Based in New York City, The Artists' Union was a leading voice for unemployed artists, advocating within the Works Progress Administration-Federal Art Project (WPA/FAP) for more positions, better pay and working conditions, and lobbying against proposed cutbacks. Beyond the WPA/FAP, the Artists' Union fought censorship, lobbied for permanent federal funding for the arts, and for a Municipal Art Gallery in New York City in response to the destruction of Diego Rivera's mural at Rockefeller Center. After the gallery opened, they fought to remove a provision that excluded foreign-born artists from exhibiting work.
The visual arts division of the New Deal/Works Progress Administration provides employment for approximately 5000 artists across 48 states through the Federal Art Project until 1943.
Organization founded in 1936 in response to the call of the Popular Front and the American Communist Party for formations of literary and artistic groups against the spread of Fascism. In May 1935 a group of New York artists met to draw up the 'Call for an American Artists' Congress'; among the initiators were George Ault, Peter Blume, Stuart Davis, Adolph Denn, William Gropper, Jerome Klein, Louis Lozowick, Moses Soyer, Niles Spencer and Harry Sternberg. Davis became one of the most vociferous promoters of the Congress and was not only the national executive secretary but also the editor of the organization's magazine, Art Front, until 1939.
Established by Canadian artists in 1968, CARFAC is the national voice of Canada's professional visual artists, defending artists' economic and legal rights and educating the public on fair dealing with artists.
In the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library's Archives: the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition was organized in January 1969 by a group of Black artists in response to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibition, 'Harlem on My Mind', which omitted contributions to the Harlem community by Black painters and sculptors. Self-described as "an action oriented watchdog group that strived to develop the legitimate rights and aspirations of individual African-American artists and the total art community," the BECC's main goal was to agitate for greater representation of Black artists in New York City museums and establish a Black curatorial presence. In 1971, the BECC called for the boycott of an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art after talks between the coalition and the museum failed to produce greater participation and visibility for Black artists. With the creation of an Arts Exchange program in correctional facilities in 1972 in response to major riots at Attica, the BECC's work moved beyond the arts industrial complex and into the prison industrial complex.
In the summer of 1969, artists Marcos Dimas, Adrian Garcia, Martin Rubio and Armando Soto joined the Art Workers Coalition and began collaborating with Rafael Montanez Ortiz, co-chair of the Art Workers Coalition Decentralization Committee, and founder of El Museo del Barrio. By winter the Puerto Rican branch of the Art Workers Coalition was formed. Read more from the history of Taller Boricua 1969-2010.
Formed in October 1969 by artists Jon Hendricks, Poppy Johnson, Silvianna, Joanne Stamerra, Virginia Toche and Jean Toche, GAAG used violent-non-violent direct action to attack and ridicule an (art) establishment corrupted by profit and private interest. Sound familiar? Blood Bath. Cockroach release. Letters. Manifestos. Licensing cards.
Until things change: use this contract. Hans Haacke still does.
An artists' union forms in Boston and remains active until 1979. In 1977 members of the BVAU protest the $4 entry fee for "The Massachusetts Open" at Worcester Art Museum.
Founded in 1972 with the publication of Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community by Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma James, the International Wages for Housework Campaign demanded remuneration from the state for unwaged work in the home and community, asserting that the work women do outside of the market reproduces the entire working class—and thus, the market economy is entirely built on the unwaged work of women. Out of this movement came Black Women for Wages for Housework, Wages Due Lesbians, the English Collective of Prostitutes and WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities).
Some things never change: The elucidating letter written to MoMA's Curator of Film by Hollis Frampton in 1973.
An extension of the WPA, CETA was enacted in 1973 to train workers and provide them with jobs in the public service. Under it, artists were recognized as chronically unemployed and in 1974 the San Francisco Arts Commission initiated the CETA/Neighborhood Arts Program, employing artists as salaried, community-based cultural workers. Providing free performances, workshops, classes, and exhibitions, CETA artists were pivotal to the revitalization of neighborhoods by bringing with them critical funding that sustained small cultural organizations serving Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American communities. By the late 1970s CETA was the largest public funding source for the arts, employing over 10,000 artists nationwide with an annual budget in 1978 of $75 million. In New York, the formation of CETA Artists Organization (CAO) served to unify artist workers. While not recognized as a collective bargaining unit, it advocated for more jobs under CETA and to make the program permanent. It also worked with non-artist CETA workers, including District 37 Municipal Labor Union.
Almost 40 years after the first congress in 1936, Survival!, the second convening, was hosted by the Boston Visual Artists' Union, the largest individual artists organization in America.
Reinventing the "f" word for the art world - feminism.
Art New England, May/June 2021
Hyperallergic, January 2020
ARTnews, December 2019
Next City, December 2019
Mission Local, May 2019
Tikkun, April 2019
The Observer, April 2019
The Paris Review, March 2019
Artforum, February 2019
Artnet, February 2019
Artforum, February 2019
The New York Times, February 2019
The Art Newspaper, February 2019
Frieze, February 2019
PARIS-LA, January 2019
ArtNews, January 2019
ALL ARTS, January 2019
Frieze, January 2019
Artforum, January 2019
Hyperallergic, January 2019
Spike Magazine, December 2018
The New Yorker, December 2018
Girls Like Us, Issue #11, November 2018
Apollo, November 2018
ARTnews, October 2018
4Columns, September 2018
Frieze, September 2018
Artforum, September 2018
Artnet, September 2018
The Art Newspaper, September 2018
Tribune de Geneve, September 2018
Esse 94, Fall 2018
The Philadelphia Citizen, June 2018
Metalsmith Tech, Spring 2018
Nonprofit Quarterly, April 2018
Le Courrier, March 2018
Artnet, March 2018
Grantmakers in the Arts, March 2018
ARTnews, March 2018
Artforum, March 2018
Hyperallergic, March 2018
Hyperallergic, December 2017
ARTnews, December 2017
Artforum, December 2017
Artdaily, December 2017
Le Courrier, August 2017
Art511 Magazine, July 2017
Artforum, April 2017
The Buffalo News, March 2017
ARTnews, January 2017
Cultured Magazine, November 2016
United Motion, November 2016
ARTnews, November 2016
Multitudes No. 57 - Valuations , November 2014
Hyperallergic, October 2014
Italian Financial Times, October 2014
Frieze, April 2013
Artinfo, April 2012
Artforum.com, November 2011
Labor Journal #1, September 2011
Possible Press, Volume 2, Issue 2, May 2011
Artforum International, March 2011
Taipei Biennial 2010, organized by Tirdad Zolghadr, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan, September 2010
Sternberg Press, June 2009
HART INTERNATIONAL, #53, June 2009
Artists: Diversify your hustle!
TimeOut New York, May 2009
Art 21 Magazine, April 2009
W.A.G.E. rage inside 'Democracy in America'
JamesWagner.com, October 2008