Do we undervalue ourselves working for free?

Grace Stead, 5 October 2012

British people do the most overtime statistically.

Within the arts it is difficult to contain the creative process but is working for free expected of you to gain an incite into the industry? Volunteering can be seen as the step up into a dream job or a chance for you to try out whether you suit the company and role. But where do you draw the line and does this make it a class situation when only the rich can be on placements due to affording it? In this case should placements be an observing position and can the same not be achieved employing people on short contracts? Does paying the person change their work ethic?

Within the industry perpetual placements are occurring and great divides within the workplace as people who do the same job, getting paid and while others not.

What can we do to stop this? Can the bosses take a small cut in order to fund a position that would otherwise be voluntary? Why don't we use bartering techniques, smaller companies may not be able to pay but could give a bowl of fruit in exchange for work for example. It can go both ways with one member of the discussion giving free PR to an emerging artists company to give back to the arts. Maybe giving back to the community can allow them to value us and choose to pay us more? Placements should maybe lead to paid positions and Ostrich group are creating social media hype surrounding this. This could be also clear in Arts Council funding with the outlining and then fulfilling of paid roles in all sectors of the arts.

Unpaid overtime is rife within the Arts but does this make the art better or does it become a vicious circle? If everyone stop doing unpaid overtime would things never get done or would the bigger companies have to pay for what the job they are really asking us to do?

We came to the conclusion that a bit of give and take is needed. You need to give some unpaid overtime to sometimes allow the artistic spectacle to be realised but not so much that you feel that your life is compromised in whatever way. In response to volunteering do what you can but on your terms, don't live on a dream that a big company may sell you in order to get you to volunteer.

I will leave you with the question we should really be asking ourselves; how much do you need to live, if you think this way maybe how much you are getting paid will change your perspective.


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