Rates of Pay

Updated: Aug 16, 2021


AUE objects to the growing number of fee-based 'opportunities' and the normalisation of this practice within the arts sector. In an increasingly competitive culture, fee-based opportunities further disadvantage freelance and precarious workers and exacerbate inequality.

Hourly Rates
£22.69 p/hr new graduate artist
£29.42 p/hr with 3 yrs+ experience
£35.02 p/hr with 5 yrs + experience
*£38.52 p/hr Lead Artist/Project Manager*

Sessional/Daily Rates
£179.33 p/day (£ 89.67 p/ 1⁄2 day) new graduate artist
£235.37 p/day (£117.69 p/ 1⁄2 day) 3 yrs+ experience
£291.41 p/day (£145.70 p/ 1⁄2 day) 5 yrs+ experience

See the chart and text below for more detail about pay rates in particular employment situations. Figures updated from Sept 2017, using CPI of 4.2% to June 2019, then recalculated again in August 2020 using CPI change over 12 months at 1.1%, and again in August 2021 using CPI change over 12 months at 2.4%.

*New listing: a 10% increase on highest hourly rate to reflect the greater responsibilities held with managing a project, which also may involve supervision of other artists

This document is designed to help artists’ and their employers to determine fair remuneration for artists’ labour. Artists should use these guidelines when paying other artists. Artists’ Union England has drawn upon existing documents produced by other unions, especially Scottish Artists’ Union. The rationale and source of each section is explained in appendices.

Artists carry out many tasks that merit fair remuneration and this list is not considered exhaustive. These rates of pay should apply to a wide range of freelance and short contract employment for artists, working within the field of visual art (refer to AUE’s membership criteria for more details) – from consultancy work, project planning and development, exhibition fees and all aspects of workshop delivery (set up, execution, clear up) and other freelance activity. They do not include equipment rental costs, travel costs, publication costs, insurance or shipping, or any other cost associated with art production (or VAT where relevant) – they are compensation for an artist’s time and labour only.

It is important to recognise that these figures do not include commitments for Income Tax or National Insurance Contributions. Self-employed people are recommended to set aside 25% of their earnings to meet these obligations.

In the future AUE aims to produce separate guidelines on exhibition fees and sales. This document applies to work carried out by an artist as an artist. Therefore, these rates may not apply to, for example, front of house work, technician work, documentation – artists may want to consult rates of pay guidelines from other relevant unions for these activities. Artists working regularly in higher or further education should contact the University and College Union for relevant rates and advice – AUE considers them to be working in the first instance as teachers, and are paid accordingly (in line with peers in other subject areas).

These Typical Rates of Pay are provided for guidance purposes; artists are at all times free to negotiate rates of pay different to those set out above. Rates assume appropriate professional conduct by the artist themselves.

Section 1 – Labour by the Hour or Day

It is for the artist to assess what a work day/hour constitutes for their practice – for example, a ‘day’ might be spent as consecutive hours in a studio, or may be part of a social practice spread out over several weeks (see section 6). Whatever the practice, the artist needs to ensure they are remunerated fairly for the hours worked.

Hourly Rates, Sessional/Daily Rates
↑ Click to go to the top of the document to see these rates

The variations in rates relate to qualifications/experience, which are defined by ‘years as a working artist’, and would be evidenced by a professional CV, indicating the artist’s art-world track record and/or unique attributes.

Section 2 - Sessional Rates adjusted according to nature of work

Presentation - Presentation would include speaking or teaching about an artist’s own work or any area of expertise associated with the work or one’s life as an artist, leading workshops or tours, speaking to school groups, and so on.

Consultation - Consultation means the giving of advice, input or opinions that might be associated with project development, exhibitions, or commissions concerning the artist’s own production, or participation in a consultative process concerned with, for example, policy development in the cultural arena, or participation in a jury or other selection process.

Installation - Installation means overseeing or participation in the installation or de-installation of works for an exhibition on the exhibitor’s premises. Activities associated with installation may include unpacking or packing of works, placing works in an exhibition space, ordering, hanging, adjustment of equipment, and so on.

Preparation - Preparation is the work associated with producing an exhibition that is done outside the exhibitor’s premises. Preparation might include correspondence, telephone calls, preparing plans or reproductions, writing statements, proof-reading, overseeing packing and shipping arrangements, and so on.

Rates variation is linked to the qualifications/experience of the artist, this is defined by ‘years as a working artist’.

(NB – this structure is taken from CARFAC’s document, but with half-day rates increased from 50% to 55% of full day)

Section 3 - Residency Rates

£24,770.04 p/annum (pro rata) new graduate artist
£36,426.52 p/annum (pro rata) with 5 years + experience

All residencies should be calculated on a pro rata basis where the residency is of 20+ working days. The variations in rates relate to qualifications/experience as above.

Section 4 - Screening Presentation Fees

For a single presentation of a work in a group programme of screened video and/or film works, for example in a gallery or cinema, the artist should expect a fee, excluding expenses of presentation (technical, transport etc) of at least £52 – although artists should negotiate a higher fee if they want.

(NB – this is derived from the LUX collection’s lowest rental rate)

Section 5 - Performance Presentation Fees

Performance fees should be worked out using the hourly/sessional rates above. Artists and employers should consider whether performers other than the artist themselves should be paid in this scale, or another more relevant scale (for example, BECTU’s). Fees do not include general equipment (i.e. lights, projectors, video, audio) that should be provided by the gallery / host. Special equipment integral to the work is the responsibility of the artist. Fees do not include artists’ travel costs.

Section 6 – Social Practice Fees

Artists’ Union England recognise that artists working in social practice may find it difficult to categorise long projects. We suggest that artists use the structures above, but acknowledge that an hourly or day rate might have to be spread over a much longer period of time. For example, 10 days at £291.41 per day might be available to be negotiated with community partners over a period of, for example, 6 months or 1 year. It should be noted that artists working in this manner need to be careful to still charge properly for work carried out.


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