ACE Cannot Recommend Pay Levels

panta rei dans lullaby

Video - Panta Rei Danseteater 'Lullaby'

Norwegian dance company Panta Rei Danseteater, late last year, conducted a little experiment whereby three dance makers created two pieces with the same name based on the same idea, featuring three male dancers and two musicians, to see what the outcome was.

June 2nd, 2016

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Arts Council England (ACE) has clarified its position with regard to recommending pay levels for artists when companies apply for funding, they have no legal basis to do so.

In a succinct statement from ACE’s press office they told us; “..we cannot legally recommend pay levels for artists.” A statement that was echoed by the Department for Culture Media and Sport, the government department that oversees ACE and its funding.

Application guidelines posted on ACE’s website do carry a brief statement about the funding monoliths commitment to ensuring “proper and fair payment to artists in recognition of their professional status, skills and experience.” No information is provided as to how they monitor pay levels or ensure that artists are properly paid for their work. There is also no information about what action ACE can or will take if it deems artists are not being paid sufficiently for their work.

ACE also provides a separate document via its website, entitled ‘How To Pay Artists’, giving contact details to professional organisations that do set minimum pay levels for various art forms. The document includes a paragraph stating that ACE cannot recommend pay levels for artists because of a ruling by the Office of Fair Trading. The OFT did not immediately return a phone call requesting a copy of that ruling.

Dancers pay levels are recommended by Equity who set the minimum rates of pay across the UK for those working under Equity contracts. Surprisingly the Equity minimum for dancers, depending on the type of work they are doing, is set at a paltry £335 or £312 per week before taxes.

In Article19’s experience dancers are paid anywhere between £275 and £425 per week with the higher pay levels usually to be found in London where living costs are far higher than the rest of the country. Dance makers appear to be driven by their own ethical barometer when determining how much they should pay their dancers sans any help from ACE or a realistic pay structure from Equity.

Without access to the OFT report it is difficult to raise questions about just what ACE can and cannot do with regard to advising applicants on pay levels for dancers/artists. With the information at hand it would appear to be illegal for any ACE employee to recommend a funding application be altered to reflect either a lower or higher level of pay for artists but without a legal case to set a precedent there is no way to be sure.

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