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The Structurally F-cked report presents a stark picture of underpaid, overworked artists in the UK's publicly-funded visual arts sector.

A woman painting in an art studio

Negative Space/CC0 license

A new report on artists’ pay in the UK has revealed that most are earning an hourly rate that is well below the minimum wage.

Research for the Structurally F–cked report found that the overall median hourly rate for artists is just £2.60, nearly £7 an hour less than the UK minimum wage of £9.50 an hour.

This figure drops even lower, to £1.88, when focused on the production of artworks and exhibition-making alone.


The report, published by Industria and a-n The Artists Information Company, focuses on the rates of pay and working conditions for artists in the country’s publicly-funded visual arts sector.

It draws its title and data from the anonymous Artist Leaks online survey of artists in 2020.

'Unfair' treatment

The report’s findings show a high level of dissatisfaction among artists in relation to pay and their treatment by the sector. More than three quarters (76%) of survey respondents reported fees that were below the UK minimum wage.

A similar proportion (74%) said they felt that that the fee they received was ‘unfair’ for the work that was required of them.

The report found that a central reason for low hourly rates of pay is the way artists are usually paid, particularly in relation to exhibitions.

Lump sums are common, with no contracted hours specified, “often obfuscating the many hours of labour involved in a project”, said the report's authors.

Unacknowledged work

Included in the published report are a range of comments from artists that reveal the extent to which they feel exploited and undervalued by the organisations they are commissioned by.

One artist respondent said of their exhibition-making experience: “The demand on my time beyond producing the show was huge – I was exhausted, strung out and frustrated. The small fee and huge workload were not acknowledged.”

The survey responses also reveal how artists, particularly those from less privileged backgrounds, have to take multiple additional jobs due to the low pay they receive for art commissions.

Julie Lomax, CEO of a-n, said: “Structurally F–cked is a stark reminder of the precarity and challenges faced by artists and a testament to their resilience in continuing to make art.”

She called on funders, institutions, galleries, curators and collectors to "place the artist at the centre and develop new economies of exchange based on transparency, fair pay, care and respect”.

A statement from Industria said: “Structurally F–cked demonstrates clearly that artists are propping up the public ‘art world’ with low and unpaid labour.

“Both individually and cumulatively, the [survey] responses form a valuable snapshot of the situation according to artists themselves.”