The peak body protecting and promoting the Australian visual arts sector

Fair Pay for Artists

Sign the Petition. Click here for the link.

Based on the evidence revealed by NAVA's 2016 survey of art industry practices around the country, NAVA has renewed its campaign to gain recognition of a group of rights for artists and other art professionals. This includes artists’ fees, superannuation for artists and art workers and a pension supplement to be paid when artists' incomes drop below the poverty level.

The success of this campaign will substantially contribute to ensuring that artists can have sustainable careers over their lifetime, and thus enable the community as a whole to enjoy access to contemporary Australian visual culture.


Campaign Announcement

Fair Pay for Artists

Photo: Tanja Bruckner, 2017

On 31 January 2017, NAVA launched its #FairPayForArtists campaign, asking people who care about ensuring the viability of artists' careers, to sign a petition calling for a new allocation by the federal government of $5 million a year to enable the payment of artists' fees by underfunded public galleries, at least at the standard rate listed in the industry's code of practice.

Artists’ Fees

Industrial fairness

Artists Fees are my Award

Photo: Tanja Bruckner, 2017

Artists fees are a payment for the time, intellect, labour and skill that an artist expends in creating works and making them available to the public through exhibitions where their work is not available for sale. This fee would be over and above production costs and paid either for commissioned work or for works loaned for an exhibition. Currently, many artists are being underpaid for the work that they do, because some in the industry are of the view that the opportunity for artists to have their work exhibited is a sufficient reward in itself. Artists are often working for free whilst everyone around them is being paid. Industrial fairness requires that this must change.

NAVA sets the recommended fees scales for artists in its Code of Practice for the Professional Australian Visual Arts, Craft and Design Sector. Though the Code is widely respected across the industry, NAVA’s 2016 national survey of art industry practices revealed that the payment of fees for the loan or commission of artworks is not consistently adopted and practised around the country.

NAVA is calling for:

Govt. $5million

Photo: Tanja Bruckner, 2017

  • a new allocation by the federal government of $5 million a year to enable the payment of artists' fees by underfunded public galleries, at least at the standard rate listed in the the NAVA Code of Practice for the Professional Australian Visual Arts, Craft and Design Sector;
  • these funds to be managed by the Australia Council through the establishment of an Artists Fees Fund specifically for this purpose;
  • all arts funding bodies to make it a condition of grant that artists’ fees must be paid at least at the art industry rates recommended in the Code;
  • the adoption of a framework agreement between the federal government and major public galleries and events which forms the basis for individual agreements to be made between exhibition organisers and artists specifying the terms and conditions to be included and the fees to be paid.
Artists Fees

Infographics by T. Andrew. Statistical References 1 - 5

Arts Professionals’ Superannuation

What are your rights?

Super for Artists

Photo: Tanja Bruckner, 2017

There is confusion over whether artists and other art professionals like installers, should be paid superannuation. Information from the Australian Tax Office is ambiguous which has resulted in many who are providing their services to galleries and public events not being paid the super to which other Australian citizens are entitled.

Like other working people, artists and other art professionals need superannuation in order to have some retirement income in their old age. NAVA is pursuing expert advice and clarification in order to be able to advise and encourage employers and commissioners to understand when payment of super should be made in order to meet their obligations.

Artists’ Income Supplement

Pension Scheme

Photo: Tanja Bruckner, 2017

Photo: Tanja Bruckner, 2017

In Australia there is no assistance provided to artists in recognition of the particular challenges in their sustaining a lifelong career. In relation to social security, artists find it almost impossible to get recognition by Centrelink of their professional status when they require assistance. In many countries in Europe and the UK, there is a commitment to assisting artists to have sufficient income to be able to sustain their practice across their lifetimes. Imaginative measures have been adopted to make sure that artists are supported when their income drops below a certain level.

An Artists Income Supplement pension scheme needs to be developed and implemented. Pensions would be paid when artists’ incomes drop below the poverty line to bring it up to the level of the minimum wage. To distinguish between professional artists and hobbyists and prove their eligibility, applicants would be assessed against the criteria used in the Australian Tax Office ruling.

The Tax Ruling: carrying on business as a professional artist (TR 2005/1) came into effect in January 2005 after an eight year campaign led by NAVA. Follow this link for more information.

International Comparisons

Paying Artists

Libita Clayton takes part in Bristol relay race, Paying Artists Campaign, May 2015.

Libita Clayton takes part in Bristol relay race, Paying Artists Campaign, May 2015. Photo: Richard Broomhall.

NAVA maintains close contact with a-n The Artists Information Company, a sister organisation in the UK which is conducting a parallel campaign to secure industry adherence to payment of artists' fees.

a-n has published survey findings about artists' experience of exhibiting in publicly funded galleries in the UK and is undertaking a campaign 'Paying Artists' to ensure the payment of artists' fees.

There are good models in Scandinavia. In 2009, the Swedish government adopted a new agreement for remuneration to artists for the display of work. In Norway, artists receive a two-fold 'compensation' for the exhibition of their works, one for exhibiting, and the second to compensate their lack of access to using or selling their artwork during the time of exhibition. They are paid according to the number of works and duration of the exhibition.

In Canada, artists' rights for payment when their work is used in exhibitions are legally enshrined.

Poland's artists are also paid a fee linked directly to the average working wage and can negotiate from there.

More information on international comparisons can be found as support material for NAVA's 10 Key Recommendations for National Arts Policy.

Join the Campaign

Sign the Petition

GOVT: $5million

Photo: Tanja Bruckner, 2017

Until March 2017, NAVA will be seeking signatories to a petition calling for the Federal Government to allocate $5 million a year to be paid out to underfunded galleries to assist them to meet industry standards in paying artists fees.

This petition will then be delivered to the Arts Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield and copies provided to other political parties.

Meetings will be held with politicians in all political parties with responsibility for arts policy, seeking their support for this proposal. It is already written into the Australian Greens’ arts policy. NAVA will organise delegations of representatives to attend these meetings.

Fair Pay Campaign Pack

Fair Pay Campaign pack

Download the NAVA Fair Pay for Artists Campaign Pack here - includes campaign actions, background information, statistics, letter templates, advocacy tips and more.

NAVA’s artists fees stamp, graphics for social media and email signatures will be available for download shortly ... watch this space!

Letters to Key Decision Makers


Arts sector representatives are being urged to send letters the three major parties asking for their support as well as to their local member. Follow these links for contact details:

- your Senate representative

- your local member

- Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, Minister for the Arts

Letters have already been sent by NAVA requesting meetings.

Letters should also be sent to the Australia Council and state/territory arts funding authorities asking them to make paying artists’ fees mandatory for all grant recipients.

Editable letter templates are provided below so you can add your own thoughts and stories.

Posters and Graphics

Artists need super too

Help promote the campaign - print out these posters for your studio, office, or community noticeboard, and / or download one of our Fair Pay tiles for your Instagram feed or Facebook profile.

4 x A3 Fair Pay colour posters (5.2 MB)

11 x B+W Fair Pay slogan posters (65.4 KB)

'#FairPayForArtists' Tile (1.6 MB)

'Govt: $5M' Tile (1.5 MB)

'Artists Need Super Too' Tile (701.0 KB)

Campaign Background

Artists Fees

Code of Practice

Until 1997, the Australia Council mandated the payment of artists' fees according to a schedule it published in its Grants Handbook. As responsibility for industrial matters was transferred from the Council to peak arts bodies NAVA took up the task and in 2001, and published recommended fees scales in its Code of Practice for the Australia Visual Arts and Craft Sector. These were updated in 2004 and 2007. They were updated again in early 2016, and again in 2017.

In 2005 a group of artists (Sydney Art Seen Society) instigated by Gail Hastings called for the mandating of artists' fee payments for any exhibition of their work in a public gallery. They staged protests which were emulated in several other capital cities, calling for a minimum payment to an artist of $2,000 for a solo exhibition.

In response, and to assess the art sector's attitudes and practises, that same year NAVA undertook research, conducted interviews with a range of organisations and practitioners and sent out a survey. We found that there was very variable compliance with industry standards by public institutions across all levels including national, state and regional galleries, university galleries, contemporary art and craft spaces and major events (like festivals and biennales). Some paid at the minimum recommended rates or higher, but most paid less or nothing at all. Artist run initiatives were not included in the survey, understanding that they mostly are not funded and run on a volunteer basis.

The outcome was that NAVA adopted $2,000 as the new minimum standard for a solo exhibition, adding CPI every year from then on. Currently the recommended rate for solo exhibition artists' fees is $2,564-$3,478 variable based on the stage of the artist's career. Note the artist fee is separate to production and/or material fees.