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Let’s Discuss the Role of Money in the Arts

We Need to Talk About Money in the Arts

Opinion by [Your Name], [Publication Name]


Money is a sensitive topic for artists and creatives, often shrouded in shame, guilt, and self-recrimination. In a society where human worth is measured by financial success, those who pursue a creative life are often seen as foolish or deserving of their struggles. The myth of the “pure artist” further perpetuates the idea that creatives should prioritize passion over profit, contributing to self-limiting beliefs about money and art. In this article, we will explore the importance of discussing finances in the arts, the benefits of transparency, and the need for fair pay in the industry.

Hidden Toxic Beliefs About Money and Art

  • Artists are always broke.
  • Creative people aren’t good at managing money.
  • Creative people aren’t good at math or numbers of any kind.
  • Being poor is romantic.
  • Real artists are crazy and irresponsible.
  • Having a vocation means accepting poverty and precarious employment.
  • Pain creates better art – suffering and creativity go together like love and marriage.
  • Being paid at all in the arts is a luxury.
  • Other people manage, so there’s something wrong with me if I can’t get ahead.
  • Talking about money is rude or embarrassing, and asking for more money is greedy and selfish.

These toxic beliefs hinder open discussions about money and perpetuate inequalities in the arts industry. It is essential to challenge these beliefs and advocate for fair pay and transparency.

Who Does Our Silence Serve?

When we remain silent about money, it primarily benefits employers. Secrecy around pay allows for injustices to persist. For example, gender and ethnic wage gaps are prevalent in the arts industry. Transparency in pay can expose these disparities and initiate conversations about equal pay and opportunities.

Banishing Pay Secrecy

The Australian Federal Labor Government’s changes to the Fair Work Act aim to address pay secrecy. Starting from June 7, 2023, pay secrecy terms will be prohibited in employment contracts, and employers who include them may face penalties. This change gives individuals the legal right to discuss their pay with colleagues. This newfound freedom can lead to collective bargaining and increased engagement with unions, ensuring fair pay and better working conditions.

Jennifer Mills – Demanding Fair Pay in the Arts

Jennifer Mills, a writer, editor, and activist, is a vocal advocate for fair pay in the arts. She supports a Universal Basic Income and actively campaigns for fair remuneration through organizations like the Media Entertainment Arts Alliance (MEAA) and the Australian Society of Authors (ASA). In her powerful essay, “My Year as a Salaried Artist,” Mills highlights the low incomes and precarious conditions faced by artists, substantiated by alarming statistics from research reports.

Related Facts

  • In Australia, women have to work an extra 56 days a year to earn the same as men.
  • Men of ethnic backgrounds are paid 16-20% less than their Anglo male counterparts, and women of ethnic backgrounds as much as 36% less, with the largest wage gap found among First Peoples women.

Key Takeaways

  • Open discussions about money in the arts are crucial to challenge toxic beliefs and promote fair pay.
  • Transparency in pay exposes inequalities and enables conversations about equal remuneration.
  • The banishment of pay secrecy terms in employment contracts empowers individuals to discuss their pay and seek collective bargaining.
  • Jennifer Mills advocates for fair pay and is actively involved in campaigns and organizations supporting artists’ rights.


Money is an important topic that needs to be addressed in the arts. Breaking the silence and challenging toxic beliefs about money and creativity can lead to more equitable pay and better working conditions. Transparency, collective action, and support for organizations fighting for fair pay are key steps toward building a thriving and sustainable arts industry.

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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