How to organise getting paid to organise?

#1

A thought for the fellow organisers…
@midigirl and I were musing about how it’s generally the responsibility of organisers to make sure performers get paid for their work, which seems fair, but somehow what generally happens is that the organiser is also an artist, and doesn’t get paid, often losing money on events which take days, weeks even months of work to pull together.
This sucks, but then it also really sucks to ask artists to play for free… And small events can lose money even refunding travel expenses.
One answer is to apply for funding, but that essentially doubles the work needed to organise something, has the high-likelihood of being unsuccessful, and you can’t get funding for writing funding applications.
I’m wondering why I’m even writing this, as I just can’t see any way around this problem. Organising events feels like a hopeless addiction, which I love but probably will never pay a living wage… It’d be nice to hear others experiences/ideas about this! What should our expectations be?

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#2

Or, even worse, organizers cashing in on people’s passion and charging money for “offering” the opportunity to play. Pay-to-Play or other fraudulent schemes like certain “festivals” who dump all economic responsibility on the performers are something I remember from my band days.

I guess the underlying problem is the attitude that artistic work isn’t supposed to cost anything, whatever artistic field you’re in :slightly_frowning_face:

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#3

I do too believe in a system of paying performers/contributors first when organising. But it’s hard. I think if you’re applying for funding. Double your fee—time or day rate. Try and not do everything i.e. fewer participants/speakers/performers. Include a 10% margin of error. Also… paying other people can cause situations when they pay you so it can come round. In terms of DIY I don’t really play those kind of gigs anymore and I also don’t organise them. I would do it for a mate, for charity or for a work thing. I used to do a lot more when I worked less/got paid less to play (ironically). I find it tiring though and weekends can be a bit precious.

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#4

I might add that I’ve had some success lately in terms of my freelance work which includes organising, building, performing and workshops. I don’t want to go in to great detail about my finances on here… but if anyone has any questions on how I work it please do fire away.

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#5

@parkellipsen Yep maybe it’s the bad behaviour of some promoters that put pressure on the more community minded folks to give all the money to artists. But much has been said about what artists should be paid, and less about what organisers should be paid. Perhaps there’s a more collective approach than simply saying that it’s the responsibility of organisers to pay artists.

One answer could be open books - publish who gets paid what. I can see why some artists justifiably wouldn’t like that, but at least high level numbers could be shared. Especially nice to do when public funds are involved.

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#6

For the first event of TOPLAP France I decided to let people pay what they want. The artists were completly fine with that, I played too but all the money we received went to the artists, I didn’t get anything by choice. Although I totally understand that it’s more difficult when you have to cover everyone’s fee and the venue’s cost… (the place was self - sufficient, so it was easier).

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#7

Interesting, I just came across this today: https://soundcloud.com/artquest/adaptation-strategies-of-artist-led-spaces

Some ideas about creating revenue for events and sharing with artists. The consensus seems to be that organising is a full-time job (at least for the duration fo the event).

I try to pay people but my last few gigs that I organised I took nothing and gave it out to everyone else - that’s possible because part of my job (arts academic) sort of pays me to do this type of thing (but really, it’s on top of other work), and also partly because I remember (e.g. I’m deeply scarred) from grinding it out as a lightly paid freelance creative person and how much that sucked! (Maybe I should have asked Jack Nicholson to fund me)

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