As artists we frequently get asked to make work for an exhibition for free, as it will ‘look good on our CV’ or ‘provide a real showcase opportunity’. This practice has gone on for such a long time now, that some of the larger, influential and financially sustainable art institutions, such as the BBC, V&A and Craft Council see this as common practice. The BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Craft Prize is an example of how artists are exploited by the institutions that should be setting an example and championing paying artists and challenging diversity by being inclusively accessible, inviting artists to apply to show existing work with no fee or, as they strongly encourage, propose new work to be made with no production budget.
The AUE opposes ‘opportunities’ of this kind by highly respected institutions and contests the suggestion that artists should make work for free. We have raised these issues with the BBC and the V&A, but sadly they have refused to amend the terms of this opportunity – ignoring the collective voice of artists in England.
AUE stands against the idea that art is for those privileged enough to be able to work without pay. There are, of course, times when we decide to make and show work for free – but is this what we should expect from our national, public funded institutions?
What do you think about artists making work for free? Join the discussion.
It’s your Union and your pay!