Skip to main content

Cornell University

Survey Research Institute

at Cornell University

WAGE Certification at Five Years

October 13th, 2019 marked five years since the launch of WAGE Certification — a national program initiated and operated by artists that publicly recognizes those nonprofit institutions demonstrating a history of, and commitment to, voluntarily paying artist fees that meet minimum standards of compensation. WAGE Certification is the first model of its kind, and the first in the U.S., to establish a sector-wide minimum as well as a clear set of guidelines for the conditions under which artistic labor is contracted. Since the program’s launch in 2014, 76 institutions have been WAGE Certified in 33 cities across 21 states, including 3 museums and the 2018 Carnegie International. With more than $4.5 million paid out to over 6,000 artists, this report will use the data collected through its administration to document the substantial material shift that has come about through artist self-organization, worker-driven policymaking, and collaborating with institutions to bring about a more equitable distribution of contemporary art’s economy. Because artist compensation remains unregulated in the U.S., WAGE‘s report will provide the first and only data-driven account of how artists’ labor is being remunerated by institutions that have chosen to self-regulate.