Galleries commit to paying artists fees

We all know how hard it is for artists to earn income and accrue superannuation from their practice, so when organisations make a commitment to pay artists, we celebrate them.

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. And, like other working people, artists and other art professionals need superannuation in order to have some retirement income in their old age. 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 are 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. We asked a few galleries why they pay artist fees and superannuation.

ACE Open

As a newly established contemporary art organisation, ACE Open finds itself in the unique position of being able to define its core values to better reflect the current opportunities and challenges relevant to our industry. The Board and staff of ACE believe that professional artists deserve adequate remuneration for their work, including superannuation. We aspire to foster a broader community culture that considers an artist's physical, mental and emotional labour as no different to any other form of work. For us, this has to start with the industry establishing fair and reasonable working conditions for artists.

Australian Centre for Photography (ACP)

The ACP pays artist fees to support economic equality. We pay artist fees and make superannuation payments to artists and the large number of professional photographic tutors working within our exhibition and workshop program. We are committed to safeguarding and strengthening the arts and culture sector for the benefit of the artists and the communities and audiences they serve.

Why is it, in an industry that contributes more than $86 billion annually (ABS 2014) to the national economy, that artists are often the last and lowest paid participants? The non-payment of artists undermines the very ecology that supports our industry. The ACP believes that paying artists makes good cultural, business and economic sense and is an investment in the sustainable future of the sector.

The ACP recognises the time, expense and creative impulse that supports our exhibition and workshop program by photographic and photo-media practitioners. We support the development of national policy and guidance to lead the sector, artist fees as a non-negotiable part of funding agreements and continued research into the contribution of the arts to the Australian economy and community development.

The ACP believes in supporting our artists, our photographers and the sector though the payment of artist fees.


Artists are at the centre of everything we do at Artspace and we firmly believe that they must be paid for the work they provide. As the main benefactors supporting the infrastructure of the art world artists need to be recognised for their contribution as key producers driving Australia’s cultural economy. It is the responsibility of arts organisations to ethically remunerate artists to their highest capacity. Artspace ensures that every artist is paid an artist fee and in addition superannuation because we believe it is not an entitlement but a right, and should be awarded to artists as it would be to every other Australian worker. Without artists there would be no Artspace and it's fundamental that they are remunerated.

Performance Space

Over its 34 year history Performance Space has a long standing commitment to paying artists fees. Remuneration for artists is an important part of supporting independent artists’ practice which is a core pillar of our vision. Through our all stages of Performance Space's engagement - from development, commissioning, producing and presenting work we are committed to remunerating artists. This includes the payment of superannuation, as artists’ work should not be seen as different to other forms of work.

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NAVA continues to work towards ensuring artists are paid for their work at fair and equitable rates. Find out more on our #FairPayForArtists campaign page. If your organisation is committed to paying artists fees and superannuation, let us know! Email nava[at]