Artists deserve more than just free meals and “exposure”
It's 2019, why is this still an issue?
Aug 12, 2019
When most people disregard compensated labor for works done by artists, you realize that art is being devalued in a society.
It happens in different situations whether a writer was told to worry about the fee after publishing his work, a graphic designer chasing a client after not receiving her due, or dancers getting their free meals as compensation after their performance.
On Aug. 2, actor and spoken word poet Juan Miguel Severo called out a mall for asking him to perform in exchange for a free meal. “Be better. You don’t celebrate Buwan ng Wika by exploiting artists that promote our national languages all year long,” Severo said.
It even gets more troublesome when some clients or institutions ask questions like:
“Do I still have to pay you? It’s your hobby, right?”
“Pwede ba food nalang? May exposure ka naman eh.”
“Wala bang discount ‘pag friend?”
For some artists, these questions are still asked when they’re about to discuss compensation with their clients and for their part, it’s insulting.
To give reasons why we should pay our artists, I’ve asked several people I know who are from the general art industry and here’s what they have to say about it:
Proper compensation makes better output
For freelance photographer Wanda Domingo, taking photos also means making informed creative decisions that would meet your client’s need and vision. When clients are properly compensated for the work they’ve done, it also encourages them to assess their improvements for their next works. Children’s book writer Rommel Pamaos said if artists are given proper due with their craft, it makes them more inspired to continue making art which can later on foster the whole art community.
Learning the craft takes time and it’s not free
Artists spent years crafting their works and honing their skills. Some of them have taken formal education in learning their craft while some have taught themselves in the process to increase artistic knowledge. For creative writing student and photographer Kyla Angel Bascon, producing quality content means investing in the right equipment needed for every field of art; and while learning the craft takes a significant amount of time and practice, it’s also their time, skill, energy, and knowledge that we’re supposed to pay for.
Art is not just a hobby, it’s also a living
While others think that there are only acceptable professions that are “more deserving” to be paid, art is usually given low regard when it comes to paying proper dues. For User Experience and User Interface designer Patricia Espino, some clients make transactions with their artists through “handshake agreements” without proper paperwork. And at some point after the artist has finished the output, there’s nothing between them and their clients to fallback for since there are no formal agreements when it comes to their due. For artists, making art is not just a hobby, it’s also a source of living.
Respect on both sides
There are instances when artists themselves insist on offering their services for free, whether it may be a gift or other specific causes, receivers on the other end must provide proper credit to the artist. In some circumstances, clients exchange service with free meal compensation and it only shows how they look at the art profession as an entirety.
Our society is built and nurtured from the ends of every art which humanity often lacked giving credit to. We owe so much to the impact of art thus by giving artists their proper compensation also means giving respect to the time, skill, energy, and knowledge they’ve learned and acquired along the way, just like the other professions.
Arts keeps the society moving
There is an unexplainable judgment that science weighs over art. While both disciplines are needed by society, art is usually seen in the lower tier of importance. When practicality became the means of survival, art is deemed to be an ideology where people can just express their emotions and thoughts. But what we’re actually missing between these judgments is that art keeps the society moving by inspiring people make innovative machines and technology in assisting human life.
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