The New York-based artist/activist organisation W.A.G.E. has automated its W.A.G.E. Certification scheme in an effort to make the monitoring of payment standards for artists more manageable.

An announcement from W.A.G.E. states: “We recognise that choosing to get W.A.G.E. Certified is a big step for an institution, also requiring the work of first reconceiving what constitutes labour and then either raising or redistributing money to pay for it.

“Overseeing the compliance of over 40 institutions is also labour intensive for us… It has become a job too big for a person and an Excel spreadsheet – so we automated it.”

The voluntary W.A.G.E. Certification scheme was launched in 2014 by W.A.G.E. in order to publicly recognise “those nonprofit arts organisations demonstrating a history of, and commitment to, voluntarily paying artist fees that meet minimum payment standards”.

Its website currently lists 44 W.A.G.E. Certified organisations with recent additions to the scheme including the Vera List Center for Art and Politics (New York) and Transformer (Washington DC). Other certified organisations include the Swiss Institute (New York) and Yale Union (Portland, Oregon).

Describing the introduction of payment standards for artists as “an act of self-regulation”, W.A.G.E. add that while its newly automated process is a response to an administrative need as the scheme grows, it also forms part of a wider strategy to ensure the fair payment of artists.

“Automation adds precision, security, and convenience. It also introduces administrative coercion as a strategy in our campaign: the easier we make it for institutions to pay artists, the harder it will be for them not to.”

The automated process is the first of a series of new initiatives W.A.G.E. is launching on its redesigned website.

For information on a-n/AIR’s campaign for fair pay for artists working in the UK, visit

Screengrab of W.A.G.E. website home page

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