Pay the artist or help the artist? That is the question!
Kiara O’Gorman, a Navigation alumnus, gives an artist’s perspective of paid vs unpaid work in the arts industry. Kiara self-funded her own short film last year and is currently self-employed, freelancing her public relations services out for artists and arts-based organisations.
I’ve been tagged in a picture on Facebook a couple of times over the past few years by my more ‘atsy fartsy’ friends and it’s something that really prompts some serious thought.
I am certain you have seen it before – haven’t you? The one which says ‘I am an artist. Pay me please.’ It has more resonance for me now as a graduate who was, up until recently, trying to find a full-time job in my chosen artistic field – film.
I zealously went onto employment websites and found a plethora of unpaid internships. I then found myself on film websites that had career tags like ‘Editor wanted’ and ‘Producer needed’ only to find that these positions were (quote) “experience only”. This begs the question as to where we draw the line between professional, emerging and student artist? Who should get paid and how much? At what point do you stop doing projects for “experience only”?
I am of the opinion that some sort of monetary support should be offered from employers who have no intention of hiring interns after their time is up. Some sort of fuel card, public transport concession and paid lunches is something which is fair on both parties – employers need only dip into petty cash for this. Moreover, arts-based employers could be actively seeking the services out of graduates. Freelancing is something I have found myself drifting into naturally give the tight jobs market – albiet what I am currently pursuing is (reluctantly) more commercial than arts-based.
So, in short, I do not think it is unreasonable to ask for money or some sort of equal payment when doing an internship. For the more film inclined, I also think it is okay to have some sort of agreement made up if the film you are working on wins a festival – yes, even those lowly production assistants SHOULD get something! Writer Harlan Ellison summarises what I am saying in a rather…’succinct’….way in Dreams With Sharp Teeth. I suggest you watch the video and let me know your thoughts up on my website.