Gender pay gap within culture sector increases

A woman preparing for a performance
03 Apr 2024

For every £1 earned by men employed in the cultural sector women are paid 85 pence, government statistics show.

Do artists’ livelihoods matter?

Flower emerging from a skull
09 Apr 2024

After far too many decades of jam tomorrow, artists deserve better, says independent arts researcher Susan Jones.

Australia trade deal introduces royalties for UK artists

03 Apr 2024

UK artists will earn new royalties when their work is resold in Australia as part of a free trade agreement between the UK and Australia, the government has said.

The Department for Trade and Industry says rules introduced last week mean UK artists can claim resale royalties each time their art - including paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs - is resold in the Australian professional art market. 

Artists are now entitled to resale royalties in line with the Australian system, currently 5% of the sale price of artworks sold commercially for AU$1,000 or more, where previously they would not have received anything. 

Creative Industries Minister Julia Lopez said: “Thanks to this new Free Trade Agreement, British artists will be fairly rewarded for their efforts and be able to claim resale royalties in line with the system [in Australia]. 

"This is just one part of our plan to grow our booming creative industries even further, benefiting talented British artists that are in demand around the world.” 

DACS launches national survey of artists’ earnings 

08 Mar 2024

Artists across the UK are being invited to take part in a survey intended to gain a better understanding of how they earn their money.

Commissioned by DACS (Design and Artists Copyright Society), the independent study will be conducted by the Centre for Regulation of the Creative Economy (CREATe), University of Glasgow.

The work follows a 2010 study that found artists' earnings averaged around £10,000 a year.

Christian Zimmerman, DACS's Chief Executive, said: “With the effects of Brexit, the pandemic, cuts to arts funding and the challenges posed by AI, it is more important than ever that DACS campaigns for stronger intellectual property protection, for policies that better support artists’ livelihoods, and for the arts to be a secure career prospect. 

"We need to build a clear and comprehensive picture of artists’ earnings today and how they are generating income in order to understand the challenges artists face in sustaining their practice. We want to hear from artists at all stages of their careers and from all disciplines.”

The survey, accessible here, is open from March to Sunday, 7 April. CREATe will publish a report on it in late 2024.

Speakers cancel RSA events after union calls for boycott

13 Feb 2024

Internationally renowned speakers have withdrawn from engagements at the Royal Society of the Arts (RSA) after members of the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) called for a boycott of the institution in a dispute over pay and concerns about leadership.

Staff at the RSA, who went on strike in December, are calling on fellows, guest speakers, academics and the public not to attend or speak at events organised by or at the RSA. They are also asking members to withhold nominations for new fellows and for academics to abstain from participating in research projects with the RSA.

Economist Yanis Varoufakis cancelled an event at RSA on 15 February in response to the campaign. He wrote on X: “It's our hope that this boycott will help the [RSA union] to ensure that the RSA, with its historically progressive aims, offers fair pay and conditions for all staff.”

Wildlife TV presenter and conservationist Chris Packham and comedian and writer Deborah Frances-White also withdrew from engagements at the RSA.

Employees have been in talks with RSA management for six months about a pay claim submitted in January 2023. Staff want a flat £2,800 salary increase for all employees, an increase from 5.5% to 8% for pension contributions and a £400 allowance for staff who don’t benefit from hybrid working.

The union has also accused the organisation of "curtailing free speech and debate through censorship and anti-democratic decisions" and is calling for an independent review of "the suitability of the leadership of the RSA". 

An RSA spokesperson said they were disappointed by the boycott and added that the body has worked with the IWGB to find “constructive resolutions,” offering a £1,000 salary increase, which the union has rejected.

In October 2023, an employment tribunal found the RSA had unfairly dismissed an employee who spoke to the press about the organisation's refusal to recognise the staff trade union. The IWGB said the victory "has only strengthened our members’ resolve to win the ongoing pay dispute and has given them confidence and energy to transform the RSA into an organisation that respects and values their work.”

Orchestra musicians walk out over unpaid fees

12 Feb 2024

Musicians from London Chamber Orchestra (LCO) walked out of a rehearsal on 7 February ahead of a performance in protest over unpaid wages.

Around half the players, who are all freelance, took action after voicing objections to five months of overdue payments, according to a report in The Observer. A subsequent performance by LCO at Cadogan Hall went ahead after other musicians were brought in to cover.

Jocelyn Lightfoot, the ensemble's Managing Director, said the issue arose after Barclays Bank froze LCO's account “with no prior warning". The action was part of Barclays' anti-crime measures.

Lightfoot said: “We kept the musicians informed during this period that their payment would go out as soon as the account was reopened, but as the timeline of the reopening was further delayed many times, it was difficult to provide musicians with a clear timeframe.

"We understand the monumental strain on this body of freelancers whose opportunities to work have been reduced and jeopardised due to sweeping cuts to orchestral funding.”

She confirmed that the payments have since been made.

A Barclays Bank spokesperson said: “We take the protection of our customers’ funds and data extremely seriously.

“As part of our ongoing responsibility to help prevent financial crime and to meet our regulatory responsibilities, we are required to ensure we hold up-to-date information regarding our customers’ accounts. Customers are also required to inform the bank in a timely manner of any change to their legal status relating to their business, charity or trust.”

Barclay’s anti-crime measures are understood to have affected other organisations, including the classical music venue, St John’s Smith Square, Surrey-based Clockwork Charitable Trust and the Ogmore Valley Male Voice Choir.

Equity and ITC strike pay deal for theatre workers

A man sitting down signing documents
31 Jan 2024

Equity and ITC said that they hoped the outcome of their negotiations would serve as a positive example for the theatre sector.

Music streaming code of practice published

31 Jan 2024

A code of practice to provide clarity over methods of calculating and reporting revenues from music streaming has been published.

Music Week reports that the voluntary code, published by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), has been developed and agreed by 12 music industry bodies representing music creators, record labels, publishers, digital service providers, distributors and collecting societies. 

Those to have signed up include Association of Independent Music, the British Phonographic Industry, the Independent Society of Musicians, the Musicians’ Union and PRS For Music.

The IPO will have oversight of the code and its implementation and will convene meetings of signatory organisations every six months to consider how the code is working, with a formal review in 2026.

"The Code is intended to act as a stimulus for companies and organisations to provide ever better communications with each other and with music makers," the IPO said. 

"It seeks to create a race to the top by driving up standards and encouraging parties to be transparent.  

"For the avoidance of doubt, any failure to abide by this Code shall not constitute a breach of any legislation or any relevant contracts, including licensing, recording, publishing and distribution agreements, which are regulated by their own terms."

'Revolutionary' employment scheme for artists launches

The four LABA artists. From left to right: Ed Patrick, Munotida Chinyanga, Viv Gordon, Jamaal O’Driscoll
14 Dec 2023

Gloucester-based National Portfolio Organisation wants to see a 'step-change' in how artists are supported so they can work without pressure.

Crisis grant scheme for theatre workers launches

Display of tin soup and packet soup inside Morrisons supermarket located in the town of Cromer, Norfolk, England
02 Nov 2023

Royal Theatrical Fund says it does not want people in the industry to be unable to feed themselves or their family during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

Freelance frustration

Royal Shakespeare Company's Dream, February 2021 set-up shots.
19 Oct 2023

Arts Council England’s call for freelancers to participate in yet another survey has been met with anger and dismay by the freelance workforce, for reasons Chrissie Tiller explains.

Renewed calls for freelance commissioner

Image of parliamentary committee room with culture leaders giving evidence to MPs
19 Sep 2023

Culture, Media and Sport Committee hears from sector leaders that more joined-up thinking is required to address precarity of creative freelancers. 

Third of UK musicians earn less than £14k

Two cellists performing in public
11 Sep 2023

First census of UK musicians highlights the challenges of a career in the music industry, with low earnings proving a career barrier for many and significant numbers struggling to support their families.

Hollywood strike action hits UK film and TV crews

07 Sep 2023

A survey commissioned by the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (Bectu) suggests that industrial disputes in the US are having a significant adverse effect on the UK’s film and TV workforce.

The union questioned nearly 4,000 freelance film and TV workers in this country about the impact strike action by American writers and actors has had on their employment, finances and mental health.

Three-quarters of the survey respondents reported currently not working, and 80% said their employment had been directly impacted by the US industrial disputes.

Over a third of participants said that they are struggling to pay household bills, rent or mortgages, while 90% said that they were worried about their financial security, 

Nearly a quarter said they did not see themselves working in the industry in five years' time.

Commenting on the survey results, the head of Bectu, Philippa Childs, said, “Much of the rhetoric surrounding the US dispute is about the actors, but as our survey shows, the impact on crew and other film and TV workers is severe and cannot be underestimated.

“This is a workforce that has already faced incredible hardship throughout and following the pandemic and has now been hit by a second crisis in just a few years. 

“Many of our members have been laid off from productions under ‘force majeure’ clauses with little notice or pay, and with 6 in 10 respondents telling us they are struggling with their mental health, it’s clear the impact also extends beyond financial insecurity.

“For too long, we have seen a pattern of engaging crew where they are picked up and dropped again with little notice, protection or reassurances about future employment. They are often the first to suffer and the hardest hit when production is impacted.

“The government is vocal about the huge cultural and economic value of the creative industries; it must put its money where its mouth is and look after those who work in the sector. Likewise, urgent industry collaboration and commitment from employers to support the freelance workforce is critical if we want to UK to remain a cultural hub.”

Royal Society of Arts staff set for two-day strike

05 Sep 2023

Staff at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking strike action for the first time in the organisation’s history.

The action will take place on Tuesday 19 and Thursday 21 September, after 93% of union members voted in favour on a turnout of 79%.

Union members were balloted for strike action following a below-inflation pay offer.

One member of staff told The Observer management refused to negotiate from an offer of £1,000 for all staff following five rounds of discussions.

They added negotiations had been “totally dismissive, anti-democratic and hypocritical”.

RSA’s impact report for 2022/23 shows money spent on the leadership team’s total remuneration package increased by 170%, from £359,000 to £976,000. Its reserves currently stand at £32m.

Confirming the action on Twitter/X, RSA Union said the strike “is easily avoidable if management return to the table with an improved offer that would cost them less than 3% of unrestricted reserves”.

Founded in 1754, the London-based charity became joint-hosts of the Creative Policy and Evidence Centre earlier this year.

Ahead of the ballot result, RSA released a statement claiming its reserves are not available to cover operating costs including staff salaries.

It adds the charity is committed to a review of staff pay in September following reforecasting income and expenditure and rebuked the claim executives have seen a 170% increase in pay, stating the rise was down to filling vacancies and the CEO returning from a secondment.

‘Extremely alarming’ pay gap in Ireland’s creative industries

23 Aug 2023

Creatives in Ireland’s music and performing arts sectors are earning less than two-thirds of their counterparts in other industries, according to the findings of a new survey.

Pay offer sees British Museum strike called off

11 Jul 2023

A scheduled six-day strike by staff at the British Museum has been called off after a new pay offer was made.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union said it had suspended the strike, due to begin today, after the museum presented it with an offer that "addresses the most pressing concerns of its members".

It said that although the offer falls short of meeting the union's entire claim, it includes significant concessions including a a cost-of-living payment exceeding £1,500 for most members.

The museum has also said that all staff will receive at least the London Living Wage (LLW), and has offered a percentage increase for all other staff beyond the civil service pay remit guidance.

PCS said the overall award, including both consolidated and non-consolidated elements, amounts to approximately 14% for the lowest-paid members of PCS. 

The offer is yet to be accepted and negotiations with the British Museum are set to continue.

Mary Doolin, PCS Full-time Officer, said: “Strike action is always considered a last resort. 

"The decision to suspend the strike demonstrates PCS' willingness to engage in dialogue when reasonable offers are made by employers."

ABTT survey flags two key pipeline challenges

Visitor to the ABBT Theatre Show in Alexandra Palace
03 Jul 2023

Pay and work-life balance are among the key factors affecting recruitment and retention in technical theatre roles, a survey has shown.

Art technicians survey hopes to address low pay

28 Jun 2023

Art technicians in the UK are being asked to take part in a survey as part of union plans to establish recommended rates of pay.

The online survey by Bectu is open to all art technicians, art handlers, fabricators, framers and studio assistants working in the UK.

Bectu intends to use the findings as the basis for pay guidance for the sector.

It will establish minimum ‘professional, general and managerial rates’ to help art technicians negotiate their pay.

The union said that due to a lack of standardisation in the sector, rates of pay have traditionally been very low, with pay discrepancies depending on venues and location.

It added that technicians frequently receive no compensation for overtime.

Joint Branch Chair of Bectu’s art technicians branch, Phill Wilson-Perkin, said: “Low wages, irregular work and lack of security will lead to a decline in diversity within the art handling industry.

“It’s hard to see how individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds can make ends meet, considering the instability and inadequate rates of pay.”

British Museum to pay translator after plagiarism allegation

26 Jun 2023

The British Museum has offered to pay translator Yilin Wang for her work, after she alleged her poetry translations had been plagiarised.

Last week, the museum removed a segment of its China’s Hidden Century exhibition after the writer said she received neither credit nor payment for her translations of work by Chinese revolutionary Qiu Jin.

The museum said that it had issued an apology for the “unintentional human error” and had “offered financial payment for the period the translations appeared in the exhibition, as well as for the continued use of quotations from their translations in the exhibition catalogue”. 

The museum described the matter as “an inadvertent mistake”. It has offered Wang payment in line with its usual rates, The Guardian reported.

Museum staff spent years working on the exhibition, which includes 300 objects and research from more than 100 scholars from 14 countries. Some staff and curators were subject to “unacceptable” attacks on social media and through emails after the plagiarism allegations, the museum claims.

“We stand behind our colleagues fully and request those responsible for these personal attacks to desist as we work with Yilin Wang to resolve the issues they have raised concerning the use of their translations within the exhibition,” it said.

Academics who have previously worked with the museum have written to express their concern, including Julia Lovell, Professor of Modern Chinese History and Literature at Birkbeck University and one of the principal researchers of the exhibition, who said she was “in full sympathy with Ms Wang’s anger”. 

“It was a genuinely accidental, unmalicious human error amid a very complex project, for which the British Museum have apologised profusely and sincerely, and sought to make amends,” she said.

In a statement on Twitter, Wang said that the museum had told her it would not be reinstating her translations in the exhibition. Her work is acknowledged in the exhibition’s catalogue.


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