Please, Sir, May I Have Some More? - On Artists and Earnings-

Oh, Oliver Twist, you silly little boy. Asking for seconds at the orphanage!

And you, silly little artist, whether dancer or poet or musician, you want to earn a decent wage for your creative efforts?!

A brave new post at "The New Inquiry" from performance artist Sarah Wookey addresses just such a situation. The gist is that she was asked to do a great deal of work for very little compensation at a MOCA LA event as part of a Marina Abramovic piece. Instead of agreeing to it, she turned down the offer. And she also spoke up about the inequity of it. From the article:

I am a professional dancer and choreographer with 16 years of experience working in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and I hold a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance from the University of California, Los Angeles. As a professional artist working toward earning a middle-class living in Los Angeles, I am outraged that there are no official or even unofficial standard practice measures for working conditions, compensation, and benefits for artists and performers, or for relations between creator, performer, presenting venue, and production company...

Artists of all disciplines deserve fair and equal treatment and can organize if we care enough to put the effort into it. I would rather be the face of the outspoken artist then the silenced, slowly rotating head (or, worse, “centerpiece”) at the table. I want a voice, loud and clear.

There isn't a lot of money to go around out there, but that doesn't mean there should be nothing. Money is a funny subject for people though. We are so delicate about it and don't want to seem like we're only in our artistic endeavors for the money. But it isn't so much about cash as it is about value. Good work should be valued and appropriately compensated, whether it's nice tile work in the bathroom or a thought-provoking, physically demanding performance piece at a museum.

Sarah Wookey's article:

LA Times article:

NY Times artice: