Announcing W.A.G.E. Certification

Announcing W.A.G.E. Certification


October 13, 2014

W.A.G.E. Certification

Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.) is proud to announce the launch of W.A.G.E. Certification, a paradigm-shifting model for the remuneration of artistic labor in the non-profit sector. 

Initiated and operated by W.A.G.E., Certification is a program that publicly recognizes non-profit arts organizations that demonstrate a history of, and commitment to, voluntarily paying artist fees—it is also the first of its kind in the U.S. that establishes a sector-wide minimum standard for compensation, as well as a clear set of guidelines and standards for the conditions under which artistic labor is contracted. 

W.A.G.E. worked in dialog with artists, arts organizations, writers, sociologists, labor historians, and critical theorists over the past four years to produce a scalable model that can be applied across the non-profit arts economy in all its variation: from small artist-run spaces struggling to support a single employee to large institutions with hundreds of full-time workers and top salaries in the seven figures.

Certification was introduced as a policy at the 2014 W.A.G.E. Summit, where A.K. Burns, Howie Chen, Andrea Fraser, Alison Gerber, Stephanie Luce, Andrew Ross, Lise Soskolne, Marina Vishmidt and staff members of Artists Space debated, negotiated, and arrived at a fee calculator, along with a full set of principles that are now available at The W.A.G.E. Summit was the culmination of a two-year Research Partnership with Artists Space during which the organization functioned as a test case in the development of Certification.

We are also proud to announce that, working with W.A.G.E. over the past year, Artists Space has met the policy’s requirements and paid fees meeting a minimum standard specified by the program’s fee calculator—making it the first organization to be W.A.G.E. Certified

For more information, please visit

W.A.G.E. wo/manifesto
W.A.G.E. works to draw attention to economic inequalities that exist in the arts, and to resolve them. W.A.G.E. has been formed because we, as visual & performance artists and independent curators, provide a work force. W.A.G.E. recognizes the organized irresponsibility of the art market and its supporting institutions, and demands an end of the refusal to pay fees for the work we’re asked to provide: preparation, installation, presentation, consultation, exhibition, and reproduction. W.A.G.E. refutes the positioning of the artist as a speculator and calls for the remuneration of cultural value in capital value. W.A.G.E. believes that the promise of exposure is a liability in a system that denies the value of our labor. As an unpaid labor force within a robust art market from which others profit greatly, W.A.G.E. recognizes an inherent exploitation and demands compensation. W.A.G.E. calls for an address of the economic inequalities that are prevalent, and pro-actively preventing the art worker’s ability to survive within the greater economy. W.A.G.E. advocates for developing an environment of mutual respect between artist & institution. We demand payment for making the world more interesting.

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October 13, 2014

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