The Price of Undervaluing Expertise

Published April 1, 2016 by monika

A recent job advert from the arts world asked for a full time project manager, degree-educated as a minimum, several years of management (staff and projects) experience was needed, the ability to lead a whole team and develop a major strand of work.

The salary? £18,000

Another recent find was a freelance post, required to analyse and evaluate a festival. The list of work that was expected over the course of this contract would take around 15 days to do reasonably, 20 to do it properly.

The fee? £1200. In total. Inclusive of VAT.

The worrying thing is that both of these adverts probably received many applications from good people, willing to take on the challenge. The freelance post probably received applications from people who were hopeful that this may lead to other work, that it would ‘open doors’.

I dream of what the sector could achieve if it truly valued, and nurtured, its talent. I dream of the creative solutions that could be the response to budget constraints.  I hereby call on the arts world to stop being so unimaginative and insulting with their salaries. There are plenty of ways to achieve your goals without undervaluing your staff.

I am picking on the arts world in this post, largely because the two unfortunate job adverts came out at very similar times and made me shake my head. The problem is not confined to this sector.

It has become a cliché in the arts, and charity, sector to declare that ‘you don’t do this job for the money. It’s for the love of it…’

I can think of many, many jobs that you don’t generally do for the exceptional pay. Those jobs that you hate but pay extremely well are few and far between. And declaring that it is a reasonable expectation to be paid poorly in return for expertise, is both patronising and unhelpful.

If you want professional, experienced staff, find ways to pay for them.