Charter for the stage artist

A network of solidarity between (freelance) artists

In the past years many texts have been published that address the precarious position of artists in post-fordist times. Enough words now. Let’s make a correct salary for artists the most important priority within the arts sector, or - why not - the most normal thing in the world.

In an extremely competitive sector like the arts, organizations and artists often keep each other in a stifling grip.

Most organizations pursue growth above anything else, even at the expense of their own employees and artists, and even when their subsidies are diminished or kept stable. Emphasis on quality instead of quantity, and the choice to stay small often loses the battle with prestige, performance pressure and competitiveness. The fact that the government encourages the competitive model and consistently favours large organizations increases pressure.

Artists on their behalf want to show their work as often as possible. The total fragmentation of a scene of essentially powerless freelance artists makes it easy for art institutions to formulate unfair financial proposals. There will always be an artist who agrees. Even worse: a 'no' is perceived as artistic suicide. Every presentation is seen as a possible 'springboard' for a future career. Visibility is crucial for survival. However, by agreeing to un(der)paid work, unfair habits are perpetuated. Not only is the artist who accepts them harmed, but also his or her colleagues.

This vicious circle has to be broken at some point. Therefore, the Charter for the stage artist aims to create a network of solidarity among freelance artists.

The idea is simple: if a sufficiently large number of artists consistently refuses un(der)paid (for example by referring to this charter), it will become increasingly difficult for organizations with permanent employees to program performances, workshops, lectures, symposia and classes without a decent compensation, purchase price or cooperation agreement.

By signing the charter, you as an artist will increase the critical mass needed to end exploitation. If a large group of artist signs the Charter and hence refuses un(der)paid work, you will send a clear signal to the entire arts sector: the correct remuneration of artists is a priority.

The Charter, as it currently stands, is limited to public activities set up by organizations that have at least one permanent employee. For example, the charter does not want to prevent freelance artists from helping each other in creations that got little or no financial support (and therefore work for free or for little money). Probably the Charter in itself will not make an end to the artist’s vulnerable position, but we hope it can contribute to more a more respectful attitude on behalf of organisations.

Join a large and growing group of artists by signing this charter. Download the charter and send it (or a link to this website) as a reply each time when an unreasonable compensation is proposed. This indicates that you are not alone in your demand for a correct compensation of all artists.