Has the Curator Been Paid?
Establishing labour standards for self-employed curators
For over 50 years, CARFAC has led the way by developing and negotiating guidelines for artist fees in Canada. We are regularly asked if we recommend curatorial fees, because we are regarded as experts when it comes to payment for independent cultural workers. Many curators are also artists, so it may seem natural that we would set these rates. We do not formally represent curators, but in the spirit of solidarity, our role is to provide advice that encourages dialogue around industry practice, in order to establish official payment guidelines.
Over the past ten years, Artist and Independent Curator, Clayton Windatt has been periodically exploring curatorial fee structures attempting to understand how any system can be established or how to provide better support for independent curators. As the previous Executive Director of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective – Collectif des commissaires autochtones (ACC-CCA), these discussions have manifested through ACC-CCA actions and group discussions within the National Arts Service Organization community, of which CARFAC has been a central contributor.
CARFAC and RAAV have been involved in several fee consultation projects since 2016, and recently reviving these discussions opened new conversations about performance fees, curatorial fees, and the expansion of the existing fee schedule to better understand areas of need. This led us to working with Clayton to conduct research into factors considering Independent Curators as self-employed contractors setting their own rates of pay and a report on this project is now available. When any publicly agreed upon structures are established by curators, CARFAC-RAAV will refer to these guidelines, and in the meantime, we will continue to support research and help guide processes sharing updates as they become available.
Photo credit: Miki Jourdan