Report reveals a median pay of £2.60 per hour for UK artists in public sector
Findings from Industria and A-n demonstrate a routine practice of underpayment in the arts, with 76 per cent of responses reporting fees below minimum wage.
- Liz Gorny
- 17 April 2023
Structurally F–cked, a new report looking into pay and conditions for artists, shows how publicly funded institutions in the UK are paying below minimum wage for creative commissions, exhibitions and talks. Working with A-n The Artists Information Company, the artist-run organisation Industria has gathered 104 submissions from an anonymous Artist Leaks survey for the report – the online questionnaire launched in 2020 after the Tate declined to share its artist pay structure.
The Artist Leaks survey found a median hourly rate of £2.60 for UK artists, which falls to £1.88 per hour for artists producing artworks or exhibitions; a total of 76 per cent of responses reported being paid below minimum wage. It also found that large lump-sum payments for artists are common in the sector, which often don’t take into account the hours of labour involved in a singular project.
For example, the report shares an instance when a £6,000 fee for two years of full-time work on a major public commission in London broke down to an estimated hourly rate of just £1.56.
Testimonies within Structurally F–cked show how many artists work multiple jobs to subsidise low payment, or stop working in the industry altogether. The report demonstrates the effect of the situation, pointing to 2022 data from the Office for National Statistics which shows how the number of working-class people within the creative industry has fallen dramatically since the 1970s.
While Industria states that Artist Leaks is not a scientifically designed study – the sample size is limited and participants self-selecting – it forms a snapshot of the situation matched by artist’s statements at A-n focus groups. The report concludes with measures to begin to combat the situation, including an artists and freelancers living wage, and transparency from institutions in breaking down lump-sum payments into hourly and daily rates.
GalleryIndustria / a-n: Structurally F–cked, design by Rose Nordin (Copyright © Industria, 2023)
Industria / a-n: Structurally F–cked, design by Rose Nordin (Copyright © Industria, 2023)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.