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On February 17th a breakthrough event took place in Zachęta National Gallery of Art - signing of "The agreement concerning the minimum wages for artists". It's a yet another initiative of the Civic Forum for Contemporary Art after e.g. Artists' Strike in May 2012 aiming to improve the well-being of artists in Poland.

The document was signed by Hanna Wróblewska, the director of Zachęta National Gallery of Art; Joanna Mytkowska, director of Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Małgorzata Ludwisiak, Vice-director of Museum of Art in Lodz and Karolina Sikorska, Vice-director of Arsenal Gallery in Poznan. Forum is currently negotiating with other institutions interested in following good practices when working with artists: Kronika Gallery in Bytom, Museum of Contemporary Art MOCAK in Cracow, Arsenal Gallery in Bialystok, BWA in Tarnow and Labirynt Gallery in Lublin. We are hoping for other institutions of culture to join in.

"The agreement..." is the first regulation to create the basis for common-sense negotiations between the artist and the institution showing his or her works. The document pertains to all artists who enter the collaboration with the institution that has signed the agreement.

The document speaks about minimum wages - the amounts cannot be lower than the ones declared in the "Agreement..." The institutions cannot retreat from paying the wage. Artists can negotiate higher amounts individually. The agreement serves one more objective - it keeps the institution or its curator from suggesting the artist to change the use of his or her wage. It is supposed to be paid out directly to the artist and cannot be spent on printing the catalogue, buying wine for the opening or other purposes. The artist cannot face a dilemma: wage or some other "benefit". This is what this regulation is for.

The settlement is also the first step on the road to a wider improvement of artists condition and their position on the job market. It will be negotiated for 2015 too and we hope that the institutions will want to continue to follow it and the wages will go up. The list of jobs that the artists will be paid for will also grow.

Our next step will be to negotiate and sign the „Pact for Artists" which would become a new social contract concluded between the artists and society. These regulations will mostly concern the matters related to the living conditions: including artists in the social security and health care systems, defining artists' unemployment, regulating the issue of maternity leaves, copyright etc.

However, even signing „The agreement..." alone and widening its coverage changes the public perception of the artist profession as the one where he or she makes profit on the art market and whose exhibitions in the public galleries and museums are merely a form of promotion of his or her art and the artist themselves. "The agreement..." defines the relationship between an artist and a public gallery or a museum as a professional one which deserves to be compensated.

Minimum wage amounts:

Zacheta National Gallery of Art / Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw / Museum of Art in Lodz

- 800 PLN gross for participating in a collective exhibition;

- 1200 PLN gross for participating in a small individual exhibition (project room);

- 3700 PLN gross for an individual or a monographic exhibition.

Arsenal Gallery in Poznan:

- 1200 PLN gross for participating in a collective exhibition;

- 1500 PLN gross for participating in an exhibition of two artists;

- 3500 PLN gross for an individual or a monographic exhibition;

- 1600 PLN gross for participating in an online exhibition.


We would like to thank the heads of cultural institutions that signed "The Agreement..." for participating in a real change of the artists' situation.