Myths & Best Practices

It takes money to live. Money defines value. If you want something, it must have value. Arts and culture brings value to our daily lives. Yet artists and other arts practitioners often don't get paid money, or get paid fairly for their work.

Their payment is on the bottom line of many budgets, a choice between other financial demands, if there's anything left to space. An arts income is often speculative, with tons of "ifs, buts, hopefullys and maybes" between the work that was produced and a pay check.

It's a challenge. Often arts 'consumers' view themselves as being supportive, don't have access to information to understand, or guidelines to go about things differently. Art$Pay aims to provide that missing information and bust some common myths!

  • It's good exposure. Try saying that to your plumber, restauranteur, or at the box office! In this type of scenario the arts practitioner may not receive any economic benefit, and usually ends up out of pocket. For example, rarely do customers coming for dinner or drinks buy the art displayed on the wall. The artist the receives nothing for materials, work production time, overhead, transportation, installation, art labels and the work is unavailable to display somewhere that might generate income.
  • Wish I could pay you something, or pay you more but... Try saying that to your plumber, restauranteur, or at the box office. Check out our Fee Guides to learn more about partial or full exchange of value
  • That's a lot of money for that little painting! It's understood that the price of a restaurant dinner includes expenses beyond the ingredients: skilled chefs, trained servers, equipment, supplies, services, overhead, and rent... same for that painting, drawing or photograph.
  • Some people are just born with those skills and talents. This implies that art comes naturally, is produced easily, without recognizing most often there are years of post-secondary education, training, professional development and experience behind the work.
  • Everybody's got to start somewhere, pay their dues. $11.40 per hour is minimum wage for unskilled labour; $16.05 per hour is the proposed Waterloo Region living wage. No one should have to work for free, or give away their work for free.
  • Artists like to starve. It's part of the mystique! Only in fiction.
  • Artists are so disorganized! Maybe. Part of what arts practitioners do requires that we step outside of time and reality. On the other hand, working two, three or more jobs, paying bills and living within an unpredictable income, finding time for significant others, art, career developments, applications, opportunities, marketing and promotions, time to be generous to colleagues and the community - what's that called?