• Claire Venus

Money Talks - Sustainable income in the Cultural Sector?

This is part of a partnership blog series with North East Cultural Freelancers.


You can read our first part here.


We wanted to pose a question around 'sustainable income' in the Cultural Sector.


What do you feel on this?


Is it possible to build sustainable income? Is it possible for your annual salary to rise in accordance with your expertise and experience?


With the recent headlines around the sky high cost of living increase, working class freelancers in the cultural sector are quite rightly very nervous about their options.


a-n - The Artists Information Company www.a-n.co.uk -
"Once an artist has more than 10 years' experience, the rate they can charge will depend on other external factors such as an artist’s art world track record and/or unique attributes and market forces."


If we are freelance we tend to work contract to contract. If we're employed, our employment can be temporary or connected to funding bids that have start and end dates.


How we can feel is often unsteady, insecure and often like we have to give more, do more, work harder and longer to ensure we are kept employed and can meet our living costs. That isn't sustainable and we've all probably learnt that the hard way!


Taking some power back, what COULD we change?


We can't change the amount of hours in a week but...

  • Perhaps we've pitched the same day rate for the last 10 years or longer to make sure we don't price ourselves out of the market? Could we increase it? Could we check with colleagues or nudge organisations if they are under charging?

  • Perhaps we've diversified our skillset and could offer more. I recently pitched that I would deliver a workshop and shout about it before hand on my social media as part of my fee. This is a skill I didn't have 10 years ago and it's valuable.

  • Are we realistic about how we need to save for maternity leave, sick leave, our pensions? How's our financial buffer feeling?

  • Have we got to the nitty gritty and projected our expenditure and income in a spread sheet. You are welcome to download the one I use here.

  • Have we explored other income streams using our skillsets? Check out our recording here of 'If not now then when, diversifying income in the cultural sector' where artists share about how they diversified into online courses and self publishing during the pandemic.

  • Could we co-work more, pool more resources, network better, share opportunities for funding and commissions?

  • Could we diversify WHERE and HOW we work?

  • Could we set up a 'buy me a coffee' or patreon page? Could we think about member offers?

We'd love to know your thoughts and ideas as we develop our next network meeting and our Big Cultural Co-working Day.


Email hello@culturenorthumberland.co.uk or drop us a line on twitter



Further Resources

  • Join The AN Network to check out guidance on how much to charge based on your level of experience

  • Check out this tool kit around ensuring you build prep and overhead time into your fee - https://www.itool.co.uk/fees/2032.php

  • Talk to each other - ask what your colleagues are charging and charge in line with that rate too.

  • Check our musician Katie Doherty's page here. for how do a 'buy me a coffee page' really simply.

  • Join North East Cultural Freelancers membership.

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