Waiving your fee

Being a ‘professional’ means that you should get paid for your work – how much you get paid is one of the key questions for you to consider.

The standard position should be: if you’re working, you should be paid. Since many projects in the arts are poorly funded, or completely unfunded, many artists often need to make a choice as to whether or not – or when – to waive their fee. Waiving your fee acknowledges that you should have been paid, but have actively decided that you will not take a fee, and may slowly help to change the mindset of artists getting paid.

The realities of the art world are that many events, exhibitions or talks are run for free by people committed to the project; but those people still need to pay the rent, so a balance must be struck.

When considering waiving your fee, think:

  • What is the work?  Is it likely to be in receipt of funding, or to be self-funded / self-initiated?
  • What is the overall project budget, if there is one at all?
  • How much do you want the project to happen?  Are you willing to work for low or no pay?
  • What is the minimum you need to earn to survive, and to live with some comfort?  And will doing this project allow you to continue o do this?  At some stage, everyone needs to earn money, but will it come from this project?
  • Might investing time in this project be useful for your future contacts, network or career ambitions?
  • How else do you support yourself if you are not being paid for this? Working while waiving your fee means both that you are not getting paid for this work, and you are not available for other work that could be paid.

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