An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.
Lately, due to the nature of the economic beast, how much we get paid is a bigger issue then it’s always been…and yes, it has always been a big issue. As the design above states: I have bills to pay, and people to feed. As much as I love my craft (and I do) getting paid for it helps to be able to survive to perform and write another day. Being paid, in a timely matter, is a lovely thing. Thank you.
Why do places (aka Those Who Hire Us) with budget problems seem to lose that concept? It’s one thing to commission an artist in whatever art form he/she lives in. There is grant money-yes, there is still some grant money flitting around-but a great majority of Teaching Artists, Performing Artists, Performers (and yes, there is a difference in the three), well, we get paid by the hour, or class, or performance.
If you haven’t guessed it by now, I network among my fellow artists. We talk shop, fees, audience stories, great and less than so treatment by our clients/patrons. Because we are normally limited in our association (and yes, I do count even a three/four month residency as limited), we often are not given the same “rights” as someone full time. Most times, we don’t want that, seeing how full time people are treated. I’ve heard the stories, good, bad and all the shades in between.
Here’s all we ask for:
- Don’t play games with us. Treat us in a professional way when we are professional acting.
- Bookers: Before dismissing what we have to offer, look through the lens of YOUR patrons/communities, not your own personal taste.Hand in hand with this: if your audience/class/whatever loves our work, and tells you so, go with it. It’s a good thing.
- Tell us how much you have to pay; playing the “what do you charge?” game sucks on so many levels. If we quote too high a price, you won’t hire us. Too low, in trying to get the job, and you’re just taking potential money out of our pockets. Tell me your budget: if you want me, and I can afford to do the show for that price, I will.
- Understand that if you’re asking us to travel one hour, 1.5+ hours or more to a location, it really means double that, and gas and tolls are now crazy monsters.
- Make sure your expectations of what we offer are realistic. Don’t expect the moon if we promise you something else.
- Pay us when the job is done right after we’re finished. We don’t always have the luxury to wait up between two to six weeks to get paid. (I once had a librarian “forget” to put in for my pay, and I had to wait just over six weeks to get paid due to her board of trustee rules, or so she said). How would you like it if your job said “oops…we made a mistake. We’ll pay you next month.” NO ONE would like that. No one.
- Understand bartering is a great tool for local artists, not one coming from far away. Usually. Depends on the bartering.
- PLEASE understand we are NOT babysitters, and if we ask for certain help from staff and family members, it is because of just that: you hired us for our talent, not as children management. That is not our job.
BTW, I might work for free, but it’d be for a really good reason. Just understand that if you can pay us, please do. Bill collectors don’t understand altruism.