I didn't earn any money tonight, but we spent a long time discussing it in the pub.

The general feeling seemed to be that we artists would be happy to do shows and projects for free that had equal benefit in terms of legacy i.e. a truly meaningful experience with long-term benefits (new work, great space or genuinely useful contacts) and CV entry rather than a show for the sake of being busy/appearing popular.

It seems editing is king.

The important point of relevance came up too. What is the point of applying for things that bear no relevance to your practice?; they may pay, but you stand little chance of success as other people's deep-rooted passions will shine through where your false claims look a little transparent.

So I suppose the conclusion was: be true to your work, think about what you actually want to happen, what will get you there and, well, get on with it.

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I borrowed £20 from my sister today, I wonder if she expects to get that back?

I also wonder how long it will take for the Tate to send expenses from a day Wolstenholme Projects organised on the 10th…that would really help.


First of all, I suppose I should reflect a little and work out why there were so few financial rewards for all that work in 2008? My fault? the opportunities I said yes to? The general state of things?

The most pleasant experience had to be showing at the Bridewell Gallery. A three-person exhibition, There in Time, with a £300 fee attached and all expenses paid. Thank you very much Bridewell.

Generally, I didn't expect to get paid to take part in shows as this is pretty standard practice compensated by the fact that galleries pay for advertising, the space and all those drinks at the opening. Plus if I did make work that could be sold, exhibitions may be more lucrative.I am also very happy taking part in low-fi, alternative events and exhibitions without being paid. These are the projects that are often the most exciting and productive.

What I did object to, however, was exhibitions where additional events held alongside the show were paid when the artists were not. There was also a real lack of transparency in these situations, which only compounded the bad feeling.

My first experience of this was finding out some artists in a group show had been paid or given expenses, and others hadn't (me included). A storyteller involved in an evening event for a few hours was also paid for their time (around £180 I believe). Why was this? Quite simply because no other story-tellers would work for free, but there is a queue of artists who would.

Next – a biennial show where artists worked site-specifically for a week installing/making work. No expenses here, and certainly no fee. The bands and other entertainment doing half-hour sets at the opening of the exhibition, did get paid. So why is the hard work of the artists valued so much less than the entertainment that announces the show?

I don't really have answers yet and when I speak to my peers about these issues, the general response seems to be 'that's just the way it is'. Do we artists not bear some responsibility then for changing this situation? But how is this possible when there is so much competition…(long sigh).

Personally, 2009 will have to be for looking after myself and making sure I can pay my rent. Thus far that involves taking work at the Tate whenever possible (Information Assistant) and only applying for things that pay in accordance with recommended daily rates, or almost at least. It also means (sadly), less hours towards favours for friends and random voluntary things.

An excellent article on the subject, written by fellow studio member Tracey Eastham can be read here: http://www.newartcriticism.co.uk/fundedartshows.ht…


This blog is not meant to be a rant, although I do apologise in advance if I get a little, well, passionate once in a while.

It stems from that New Year tradition of deciding this is the year! The year of some measurable success, the year of earning some amount that may feed and house me and of making time for my work. Good intentions ahoy. But I have been here before, and although I had a great year last year, took part in some really interesting exhibitions and got more work done than any other year, I made less than £5,000. How could this be if I was working all hours and being incredibly proactive?

I love that a-n publishes good practice guides and recommended daily rates for artists and all of those incredibly useful and inspiring documents, but I need to find a way that these can actually be put into practice.

I have knowingly chosen an industry that is driven by people who work for free because of a need or love for/of art and is notoriously hard to make a living out of. But it is possible to be paid properly; as artists are increasingly slotted into new projects and policies to make them whole, funding is made available and there are organisations such as creative partnerships who pay recommended rates. But is it the case that I have to include children or communities in my practice to obtain these rewards? I will be looking into it…

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