Paying for Art – What it’s Worth

by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor


Artists, writers, dancers, musicians and just about every creative has undoubtedly encountered this troubling proposition: “We can’t afford to pay you for your (painting, performance, poem, illustration, etc.), but it would be great recognition and who knows where that could lead!”


It’s troubling because those artists, writers and dancers are professionals. They are people with bills and kids and cars, people who are probably still paying off an expensive education to learn those professions, and those responsibilities can’t be paid with recognition.


Below are several reasons for artists on why it’s not a good idea to work for free.


Professionals Get Paid: As an intern or student you might find yourself working for next to nothing, but once working as a professional you need to be get paid as a professional.

Accountants Wouldn’t Do It: Trying to find someone to do your taxes in exchange for a positive shout-out on Facebook? Good luck.


Free Work Spawns More Free Work: In the world of free blogs, free news sites and free clip art, once you work for free it’s hard to find someone who will pay you.


No Money is Actually Negative Money: The time spent on a project will usually include a coffee break, lunch, gas or travel expenses, all monetary losses if you are not earning anything.


They Weren’t Paying You Much to Begin With: Musicians perform for bar tabs, actors perform four-week runs in professional theaters for a couple hundred dollars or less, writers are paid by the word, but that’s more than nothing.


The next time someone asks you donate your time or talents, ask them to donate to your wallet.

(Adapted from The Dallas Observer)

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