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We Need to Talk About Money in the Arts

Intro: Money is often a taboo topic in the arts industry, with many artists facing shame and discomfort when discussing their earnings. This article delves into the reasons behind this secrecy and highlights the importance of open conversations about money.

The Myth of the Pure Artist

Working within a capitalist system, artists are often judged based on their financial success. The myth of the “pure artist” perpetuates the idea that real artists shouldn’t care about money and that struggling and suffering for their art is expected. This mindset undermines the value of art and perpetuates a sense of guilt and shame for artists who struggle financially.

Self-Limiting Beliefs

Unfortunately, there are deep-rooted toxic beliefs surrounding money and art. Some common beliefs include artists always being broke, creative people lacking money management skills, and accepting poverty as part of an artistic vocation. These beliefs limit the potential for financial stability and success in the arts.

Who Does Our Silence Serve?

The silence surrounding money in the arts primarily serves employers. By keeping artists in the dark about their own worth and the disparities in pay, employers can maintain unfair practices and perpetuate injustice. Transparency about pay is necessary to address gender and ethnic pay gaps within the industry.

Banishing Pay Secrecy

The Fair Work Act has made changes to encourage transparency around pay. From June 7, 2023, pay secrecy terms can no longer be included in employment contracts, and employers who do so may face penalties. This change empowers artists to discuss their earnings openly and potentially engage in collective bargaining.

Jennifer Mills – Demanding Fair Pay in the Arts

Writer, editor, and activist Jennifer Mills has been a vocal advocate for fair pay in the arts. She supports a Universal Basic Income and has written extensively about the need for fair pay in the industry. By highlighting low incomes and precarious conditions for artists, Mills aims to bring attention to the urgent need for change.

Related Facts

  • In Australia, women have to work an extra 56 days a year to earn as much as men.
  • Men of ethnic backgrounds in Australia are paid 16-20% less than Anglo males, while women of ethnic backgrounds are paid 36% less.
  • The Fair Work Act will penalize employers who include pay secrecy terms in employment contracts.

Key Takeaway

Open discussions about money in the arts are crucial for addressing pay disparities and creating a fairer industry. By breaking the silence and advocating for fair pay, artists can collectively challenge the myth of the struggling artist and demand the recognition and remuneration they deserve.


It is time to shed the shame and secrecy surrounding money in the arts. By openly discussing and addressing pay disparities, we can work towards building a more equitable industry that values and rewards the contributions of artists. It is essential to have these conversations to create lasting change and ensure that everyone in the arts is fairly compensated for their work.

Denk Liu
Denk Liu
Denk Liu is an honest person who always tells it like it is. He's also very objective, seeing the situation for what it is and not getting wrapped up in emotion. He's a regular guy - witty and smart but not pretentious. He loves playing video games and watching action movies in his free time.

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