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One would think that paying artists would be a sine qua non for the art world — and yet, they are constantly asked to speak, perform, and make and show their work for free, at major institutions and smaller ones alike. The situation is not only morally unacceptable — pay creators for their work — it’s also financially untenable, particularly as artists in cities struggle to keep up with rising rents. People have adopted different approaches to combatting this problem — one of the most notable advocates for change is the group W.A.G.E., which has been working for years to try to hold institutions accountable — but lack of compensation remains a widespread practice with real ramifications. Who has the resources to make it as an artist?

Get Artists Paid (GAP) is a self-described “growing alliance of artists who demand institutional financial transparency and rights through critical conversations and collective action.” The group is focused not just on visual artists, but also on writers and organizers, and it’s concerned with payment as a means to “create a new world that will be accessible and inclusive to those who have been historically excluded … and that will rise from a foundation of radical acceptance, accountability, transparency, and solidarity.” Amen.

On Monday night, GAP will gather in person for the first time. On the agenda are an introduction to the group’s goals and a discussion of the problems of a culture that expects artists to work for exposure free. Solidarity and collective action seem like a vital part of the solution here, so if you’re a creator who’s ever confronted this issue, consider going, meeting others, and sharing your ideas. GAP is also currently collecting data via a series of online surveys, so if you can’t make the meeting — or even if you can — consider filling one out. You know how the saying goes: knowledge itself is power.

When: Monday, February 20, 7pm ($5 suggested donation)
Where: Silent Barn (603 Bushwick Ave, Bushwick, Brooklyn)

More info here.

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Jillian Steinhauer

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art...