Fees and payments

Artistsí rates of pay 1989-2004

Analysis of past and current situation for artists’ fees and payments, introducing some issues for artists, employers and policy-makers to consider in the future.


Since 1989, a-n has tracked fees and payments offered to artists for art services in the form of residencies and educational workshops. This research was generated in response to artists’ requests for key information that would support their desire to practice professionally and to create sound working relationships with arts organisations employing them. This review analyses particular aspects of the past and current situation for artists’ fees and payments and introduces some issues for artists, employers and policy-makers to consider in the future.

Data was first collected and published in a-n Magazine (formerly Artists Newsletter) in 1989, and later updated in a-n’s Rates of Pay Fact Packs in 1990, 1991, 1994 and 1999. A number of organisations were ‘tracked’ over the years, including the arts funding bodies (in their various incarnations) and galleries. Our research also revealed the application of Exhibition Payment Right (EPR), as this formed a key plank within moves by artists and arts funding bodies in the early 90s to create a wider understanding of the crucial professional relationship between artists and public galleries.

For 2004, as part of a portfolio of research and writing around artists’ fees and payments supported by Arts Council England within delivery of the Artists’ Development Strategy, we have updated the information. This is presented as a series of historical tables based on material published or provided between 1989-2004 with explanatory and associated notes.

Artistsí residencies table

In 1989, introducing research by artist Sheila Hayward into Payments for Artists, we noted that: “Existing levels of payment to artists have risen piecemeal. They have been arrived at variously by employers of artists, by trades unions and by artists’ groups”. And in her article, she clearly stated that figures demonstrated a “recommended minimum” rather than a flat rate and “the more artists there are who demand a [particular] rate, the more quickly it will become recognised by employers and funding bodies”.


Agency/Employer 1989 1990 1991 1994 1996 1999 2004
Regional arts associations / boards £12,500 (£85 day) £75-80
£100 £12,000 (£100-125 day) £12,000 (£100-125
Arts Council of Great Britain / Arts Council England £15,750         £20,000 (£150 day) £23,400
(£175 day)
Welsh Arts Council SE office/ Arts Council Wales   £11,000 £12,000 £13,000
(£75 day)
£15,000   £150 day
Cywaith Cymru /Artwork Wales             £28,500
Artists’ Agency / Helix Arts £10,000 £11,300 £13,333 £14,000 £15,000 £16,000 £9,500
Kettles Yard     £16,000   £16,000 £13,000 £15,000
Scottish Artists Union             £16,200-
27,000 (£108-214)
Henry Moore Fellowship   £10,000 £10,000 £12,000   £15,000 tbc
Momart / Tate Liverpool     £16,000     £13,000 suspended
Range of employers surveyed by a-n   £8,000-11,300
(£48-200 day)
not collected not


All figures are assumed as quoted a ‘minimum’ except where stated as a range. In the case of the Scottish Artists Union, the range is based on up to three and over five years of experience, and rates are also cited ‘minimum’.

We have only included cash value as advertised and excluded related or in-kind benefits such as studio space, accommodation, etc.

Figures for Cywaith Cymru / Artwork Wales are included in 2004 as this organisation took over the artists’ residency programme previously organised by Welsh Arts Council’s South East office).

Artists’ Agency / Helix Arts figure for 2004 is for a residency of 72 days taking place over the period of a year whereas previous years’ figures were quoted for a one-year residency. Helix Arts pays artists £175-£300 a day dependent on the nature and duration of the project.

In 2004, the Scottish Arts Council commissioned consultant Joanna Moore to make recommendations on its corporate approach to payments to artists although these were not publicly available as at December 2004.

a-n did not systematically collect data across a range of employers in 1999 and 2003.

Workshops/education table

Back in 1990, one gallery surveyed for this research wondered if it was ‘fair’ to pay artists at different rates but realised that when an artist ‘brought more to a project’ it was worthwhile acknowledging that financially. We noted the general reticence about revealing the practice, in case it offended those artists who were paid less.


Agency/Employer 1989 1990 1991 1994 1996 2004
Shape / Artlink   £75     £75 £111
Whitechapel Art Gallery   £70 £75 £75 £80 £140
Cornerhouse   £80 £80 £100 £100 £150
SAC gallery education         £100-
Engage (England)           £175
Engage (Scotland)           see
Scottish Artists Union           £108-
Range of employers surveyed by a-n   £50-
Cross artform            
Creative Partnerships (London East)           £200
Creative Partnerships (Sunderland)           £180
Creative Partnerships (Northern Ireland)           £125
Other artforms            
National Association of Writers in Education           £250
Society of Authors           £150
Apples and Snakes           £250
Community Artists Network           £120
Foundation for Community Dance           £160


Each Shape / Artlink organisation is run independently, and figures given throughout the table are examples rather than uniform across these organisations. The 2004 figure is for contact sessions for self-employed artists, with lower rates for planning and review sessions.

Whitechapel Art Gallery 2004 rates are for contact sessions of 5 hours maximum, with lower rates paid for planning and evaluation sessions.

Scottish Arts Council – see previous table notes.

Cornerhouse rates due to rise to £175 in 2005.

Engage rates are based on information gathered from a range of galleries who are members of Engage, as Engage itself does not stipulate a rate.

Engage Scotland rates are informed by Scottish Artists Union guidelines.

Creative Partnerships offices operate independently whilst being under the umbrella of CP, and figures illustrate regional variations. Creative Partnerships London East says that if an artist wishes to charge more than their stated rate, they have to prove they have been paid this higher rate on three previous occasions.

Apples and Snakes recommends £250 a day or £150 a day for a workshop by a performance poet and up to £400 for a performance.

Community Artists Network comments that the minimum £120 musicians’ day rate for those not covered [by specific unions or professional bodies] is based on the day rate for a standard classroom teacher, plus on costs, this recommended in the research report ‘Towards a youth music makers network’.
Foundation for Community Dance has an established framework for dancers that recommends annual and daily rates for a freelance independent community dance artists, with specific figures and scales to denote level of experience and budget responsibility. The daily rate given is a minimum as this should reflect the type/level of work and range of roles being undertaken, the experience/qualification of the individual concerned, and the length of the contract in that usually, shorter contracts will attract a higher daily or hourly rate.

Comparator professionals table

Arts Officers 1990 1991 1994/5 1996 1999 2004
Visual Arts Officer Regional Arts Board   £16,014 £17,208-
Arts Council England artform officer / development officer           £24,100
Local authority arts / Exhibitions Officer Scale 4 £9,795 £10,392 £11,863      
Local authority arts / Exhibitions Officer Scale 5 £11,241 £12,747 £13,863   £14,766-
Local authority Senior Visual Arts Officer (Scale 6-SO1) £12,747   £14,319-
Local authority arts development officer SO1           £21,867-
Lecturer / Senior Lecturer   £18,108-


NALGAO members’ survey published 2004 identifies the average wage band for local authority arts officers as £20,000-£24,999 (SO and PO1&2) although most officers are on £16,000 (Scale 5). A study in 2000 showed that 40% were on £20,000-£25,000, indicating that salaries have faired poorly in line with inflation.

Exhibition Payment Right table

A strategic campaign involving artists and Arts Council of Great Britain and the regional arts associations to secure the principle and widespread application of EPR was started way back in the 1980s, with £100 the magic figure, and when an arts officer could command the princely annual salary of £6,313, making the fee equivalent to 1.5% of this salary. Exhibition payment of £1,000 per solo show in 2004 represents 4% of an arts officer’s salary of £24,100.

In 1991, we noted that the “Regional arts associations and arts councils have been moving towards the implementation of a national scheme of payments to artists for exhibiting”. The suggestion was a minimum of £250 for a solo show. And back then, Cambridge Darkroom was paying £300-£650 for a show originated by the gallery or £250 for an incoming show.

a-n’s The Directory of Exhibition Spaces 1993 edition identified that 14% of galleries “openly declared that they paid artists a fee for exhibiting”.

In a-n’s 1994 review of fees and payments to artists, Yorkshire and Humberside Arts ‘insisted’ that all clients in receipt of grant aid towards exhibition production paid £250 minimum and £60 for each venue in a touring show. By 1996, artists exhibiting in South West England could benefit from the Art Electric EPR scheme, worth £300 per solo show. However it was noted at that time that although regional arts boards and all arts councils generally endorse the principle, “how they apply it varies. And although in some regional arts boards budgets are set aside to EPR, whether eligible artists receive it is dependent on whether the fund is exhausted”.

  1989 1990 1991 1994 1996 2004
Arts Council of Great Britain £250 £250       no
Regional Arts Associations (best rate) £450 £250       see
Yorkshire & Humberside Arts     £250 £250    
Scottish Arts Council         £250 £400/
Castlefield Gallery           £250
South West Arts Board         £300  
Ikon Gallery           £1000
Fruitmarket Gallery           £1000
Ormeau Baths           £2000


The growth of commissions for installation-based exhibitions has generated new ways of thinking around exhibition fees. Amongst alternatives to EPR is the Film and Video Umbrella approach that pays artists a combined commission and exhibition fee. Standard practice, followed over last 5 years, is that the artists’ fee is 10% of the overall budget. Fees range from £2,000 to £7,000, which reflects the scale of project (£20,000 to £70,000). The 10% formula works because of nature of FVA activity: all stages from commissioning through to touring exhibitions. If works tour to more than three venues, artists are paid half the fee secured for the additional exhibition.


Are current rates of pay for artists, as proposed by arts employers, appropriate and have they remained in line with comparator salaries over the years? We asked chartered accountant Richard Murphy to tell us what some of the 1989/90 stated rates would be now if they had been ‘index linked’ to the retail price index, the most common measure of inflation.

Type 1989/
2004 value 2004
Residency £12,000 £19,496 £23,400 (£175 day)
Local authority arts officer
Scale 5
£11,241 £16,686 £17,340
Arts officer
£11,475 £17,028 £24,100
EPR £250 £406 £1,000


In broad terms, this might be translated as indicating that the Arts Council England 2004 guideline for a minimum rate for artist’s residencies is 2% better in financial terms when set against the 1998/90 rate. Whilst salaries for local authority arts officers have remained much in line, those for arts officers within the English arts funding system are 41% higher than the1989/90 rate when index-linked. As most wages over this period have run ahead of retail price inflation, this is what we would expect the table to show.

Note that Establishing a charge rate for a working artist, published by a-n The Artists Information Company in November 2004 sets the professional status a new graduate visual artist against that of a new graduate teacher. Using these guidelines would suggest an annual remuneration for artists of £21,090 and day rate before overheads of £119. Adding an annual overhead cost of £10,000 provides a base rate of £175.

Whilst the £1,000 rate currently paid by some ‘national’ galleries as a fee to artists for exhibiting is considerably bettering real terms than the 1989/90 rate, this figure is unlikely to be the norm across major galleries. Art work: a review of opportunities for artists 1989-2003 published within the Fees and Payments section on www.a-n.co.uk has revealed that exhibitions make up 38% of all opportunities for artists but provide on average a mere £200 in monetary value. Significantly, it is also estimated in Taste Buds: how to cultivate the art market by Morris Hargreaves McIntyre that 41% of all artists would rather hold exhibitions that provide a critical framework for their work than sell work to non-influential purchasers, that is those who don’t get to artists through commercial dealers.

What is clear, therefore is that new, strategic approaches are required by artists, galleries and public policy-makers if notions of valuing artists’ contribution to cultural well-being and thus making appropriate payment to artists for exhibiting their work in public galleries are to become part of twenty-first century thinking.

The writers

Susan Jones is Director of Programmes at a-n THE ARTISTS INFORMATION COMPANY. Between 1980-1999, whilst maintaining a studio-based practice as an artist, she contributed to the company's work through commissions to undertake research, critical writing and editing and leading specific development initiatives. In 1995, she instigated and gained funding from a range of public and private sources to undertake the first ever national study of the scope and value of artists' organisations, including seventeen case studies and publication in 1997 of Measuring the Experience and Roles and reasons.

Paul Glinkowski is a freelance arts writer.

Susan Jones, Paul Glinkowski

By Susan Jones With additional research by Paul Glinkowski

First published: a-n.co.uk January 2005

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