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**UPDATE – February 12, 2018 – Thanks to everyone who has shared and commented on this letter. Please feel free to use, adapt, circulate. I am also open to feedback on how to improve/strengthen the wording. This letter was informed by ongoing conversations I’ve been having about artistic/academic labour with other cultural workers. There are lots of groups out there working on these issues already, so please check out the links below to see some of the sources. Merci aussi à Simon Brown pour la traduction!**

Dear________,

Thank you for thinking of me and extending the invitation to contribute to your project.

Perhaps you are already familiar with the ongoing conversations around precarious labour in both academic and artistic fields, but this is an issue that is very dear to my heart and I made a choice a while ago to not work for free. I’m a bit surprised that a ____________ focused on ______________ would be continuing to perpetuate the idea that working for ‘exposure’ is fair compensation.

Writing, research, editing, _______, ________, and administrating are all WORK. In Canada, we have an organization called CARFAC that sets minimum fees for any kind of artistic work, and in the U.S., W.A.G.E has been advocating for similar practices in museums and institutions there.

Those of us working in the field of  _________________ are also affected by the pressures of economic precarity and the undervaluing of our work, whether working in academia, for institutions, or as independent producers. When we work for free, we perpetuate the idea that our labour is not ‘real work’ and reinforce the conditions where only those who can afford to work for free are able to continue. It should go without saying that these labour conditions disproportionately affect women, people of colour, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ folks.

Perhaps these are issues that you might also consider addressing in your __________.
Best of luck with your project,

__________________

///

Chère ________, Cher ________,
Merci de m’avoir invité·e à participer à votre projet.

Il se peut que vous soyez déjà au courant des réflexions et discussions actuelles autour de la question du travail précaire dans les domaines artistiques et universitaires. C’est un sujet qui me tient à cœur, et, par conséquent, j’ai pris la décision il y a quelque temps de ne plus travailler sans rémunération. Je dois avouer être un peu surpris·e d’apprendre qu’un organisme comme le vôtre, qui prétend porter les valeurs de ____________ et de ____________, entretienne l’idée que la « visibilité » ou ____________ constitue une rémunération équitable pour quelque travail que ce soit.

Qu’il s’agisse de la rédaction, de la recherche, de l’administration ou de _____________ — toutes ces activités constituent du travail, et non pas du bénévolat. Au Quebec et au Canada, des organismes comme le RAAV et le CARFAC établissent des barèmes de rémunération minimale pour le travail artistique et culturel. Dans d’autres pays, ce sont des organismes comme WAGE ou la SAIF qui militent pour la rémunération équitable des travailleurs culturels et artistes.

Ceux d’entre nous qui travaillent dans le domaine de _________________ ressentent sur une base quotidienne les effets de la précarité et de la sous-évaluation de notre travail, que ce soit au sein des organismes culturels, des universités, ou à titre de travailleurs autonomes. Le fait de travailler gratuitement entretient à la fois l’idée que ce que nous faisons ne constitue pas du « vrai travail », et une situation où seuls ceux et celles ayant les moyens de travailler sans rémunération sont en mesure de travailler tout court. Il va sans dire que de telles conditions de travail défavorisent démesurément les femmes, les personnes racisées, les autochtones et les membres des communautés LGBTQ+.

Ce sont des questions auxquelles votre organisme est peut-être déjà en train de réfléchir.
Je vous souhaite la meilleure des chances avec votre projet.
Cordialement,
___________


See also:

Carrot Workers
Precarious Workers Brigade
Republicart
FUSE’s final issue
Should I Work For Free
Hyperallergic article on WAGE
Sarah Wookey’s letter
Broken City Lab
Ragpickers
BFAMFAPHD
Who Pays Artists, Bad At Sports
Standard Deviation
Art Work

 

Ever feel like your job has started to take on a somewhat performative quality? Tired that artists and athletes are getting all the recognition and the fun? Want to put your over-developed administrative skills to the test and show off your hidden talents for organizing, planning, and figuring out brilliant last-minute solutions while working under pressure with a tight budget? Have we got a race for you!

The Art Administrator’s Race is a day-long game based on popular television programs like The Amazing Race or Survivor, childhood memories of Capture the Flag, and the absurdity and humour in our day-to-day lives as arts administrators and cultural workers.

//

Avez-vous déjà eu l’impression que votre travail comporte un aspect performatif? Êtes-vous tanné-e du fait que les artistes et les athlètes sont les seul-es à recueillir la gloire? Avez-vous envie de tester vos habiletés surdéveloppées en matière d’administration des arts et de pavaner vos talents cachés pour l’organisation, la planification et la résolution de problèmes de dernière minute tout en travaillant sous pression selon un budget limité? Eh bien, nous avons une compétition pour vous!

La Course annuelle des administrateur-rice-s des arts est une compétition d’une journée, basée sur les populaires émissions de télévision telles Amazing Race et Survivor, les souvenirs d’enfance de capture du drapeau et le côté absurde et humoristique de notre quotidien d’administrateur-rice-s des arts (AA) et de travailleur-euse-s culturels.

Organised by Amber Berson and Nicole Burisch, the first race took place in Montreal on May 20th, 2013, from 2-5pm (https://www.facebook.com/events/113142445556510/). Four teams met at Eastern Bloc and then raced throughout the Mile Ex/Little Italy/Mile End neighbourhoods to complete a set of arts-admin related challenges.

The rules were:

  • The whole team must do the challenge at the same time. No splitting up.

  • You must take a photo at each station (and try to upload it to Facebook for good PR and communications)

  • You must begin and end at Eastern Bloc, but otherwise can do the challenge in whatever order you want.

Challenges included:

  • Translate a text that was written in English by a non-native speaker, to actual English. In less than ten minutes so it can go to press.

  • Bring Your Kid to Work Wild Card Challenge (30 mins max)

  • Schmooze with a Collector + Bonus Point Round! (30 mins max)

  • Old technology / equipment pickup / installation challenge (30 mins max)

  • Visit two board members who work on opposite ends of town to sign a document and then drop it off at an art council office (i.e. with the judges), in less than two hours.

  • Photocopy challenge. Make a posters with images from your challenge stations. Make enough copies for every team.

  • Explain your financial statements to your membership. You must be back at Eastern Bloc by 4:45 for this challenge.

The race concluded with after work drinks/judging at Alexandraplatz, where celebrity judges/board members Libby Shea, Anne Bertrand, and Saelen Twerdy evaluated each team’s performance, and tallied scores from the various challenges.

After thorough consideration (and a shocking last-minute disqualification) the results were announced:

1st place: Michelle, Anna, Sheena
2nd place: Florence, Virgine, Pedro
In a category of their own: Chris and Rose
Disqualified: Amber and Nicole

Thanks to all who participated and offered their homes, resources, and ingenuity. If you are interested in participating, contributing, or suggesting potential future challenges, please send an email to citiusaltiuspervilis(at)gmail(dot)com.

Merci beaucoup à tous les participant.e.s: Anne, Saelen Libby, Olya, Florence, Virginie, Pedro, Claudine, Chris, Rose, Sol, Michelle, Anna, Sheena, Eliane. Vous êtes toutes et tous des gagnant.e.s!