Skip to content

Panel discussion: Paying the artist as worker

The new federal government has promised to recognise ‘artists as workers’. Yet, at the launch of the National Cultural Policy earlier this year, there was no discussion about how to apply this idea to artists.

Without an industry award, visual artists and curators are some of the most exploited workers in the country. This is thanks to over a ten years of funding cuts, a lack of union representation, exposure culture and widespread unpaid labour. Artist fees are rare, and insecure working conditions the norm.

In this panel, representatives from peak bodies and unions, curators, activists and artists discuss how they have collectivised arts workers to improve work conditions. Can grassroots advocacy movements make a difference? Will Australia follow countries such as France and Ireland, who have wage insurance schemes, better grant funding or a basic income for creatives?

Do we need to shift our perceptions around what constitutes a 'real job' in Australia?

Panel discussion speakers

Moderated by artist, artworker and curator of Real Job, Madeleine Thornton-Smith.

Panellists include Imogen Beynon (United Workers’ Union, NAVA), Sophia Cai (independent curator and arts writer), Channon Goodwin (former director of Bus Projects, Composite Moving Image Agency, Media Bank and RMIT PhD candidate), Emily Hubbard (artist, MEAA delegate at ACCA), and Maize Wallin (sound designer, co-founder of Game Workers Australia).


Accessibility information

Seating is available for ticket holders.

This program will be streamed on Instagram Live. A captioned recording of the program will be made available on our Instagram channel after the event.

For more information about the accessibility of the Counihan Gallery venue, visit our Access and Inclusion page.


Counihan Gallery
Phone: 03 9389 8622

Further information

Register your booking

For program updates you can follow the Counihan Gallery Instagram page. You can also go to the Counihan Gallery Facebook page.

This exhibition is in the Middle Gallery.