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Australian party proposes a living wage for artists

The Green party have pledged to implement new funding for creatives: funding wages, pensions and making sure they’re paid for exhibiting work

Artists: tortured and broke right? For creatives, doing what you love can mean living off beans on toast and sofa-surfing, rubbing pennies together to pay for paints, performance space or costumes, once in a blue moon. However, Australia’s Green party has pledged to introduce an arts policy that would invest $270 million in the arts sector, and actually provide artists an actual living wage.

Under the policy, artists would be subject to income tests so they could receive the payments. The party has also proposed increasing the amount of “superannuation offset” (like a pension) artists can qualify for, bringing it from $500 for those on a low income to $1000. They also intend to see that galleries who exhibit the work of artists pay them fairly. The party’s arts spokesperson Adam Bandt called it a “drop in the ocean” with regards to their budget, envisioning a total cost of $20 million annually, as they plan to reverse some of the $100 million cuts made to the Australia Council, which heads up a lot of creative output in the country.

“Most artists have to supplement it with other forms of work,” explained Bandt. “They're expected to be proficient in their field and always improving.” He pointed out that many live “hand to mouth”, and given rising housing costs in city areas where artists gravitate to, life is difficult.

The government’s ability to help the arts is totally untapped right now, despite the fact the arts sector offers so much in return. Artists deserve recognition and fair work anywhere on the planet, so let’s hope something similar could be implemented in our part of the world too.