24 May

Arts work is work, but artists are paid less

The 2024-2025 budget has failed to acknowledge the difficult position Australian professional artists find themselves in since COVID and during the current cost of living crisis. While there are some concessions that will indirectly provide relief to artists, the budget fails to grapple with the unique position that creatives are in, trying to make a living from their passion. The recent report of David Throsby and Katya Petetskaya Artists as Workers: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia, highlights just how difficult that position is. 

The Throsby and Petetskaya report found that the total income of professional artists were on average lower than those of all groups including non-professional and blue-collar occupations. In 2021-22 Australian practising professional artists earned on average $54,500, less than half of which was made up by income from their creative work. 

The budget has provided a welcome boost to the music industry through the ReviveLive funding, a sector that was found in the report to be struggling after the effects on COVID lockdowns. The investment in the ARTS8 group and the Australian Screen industry are also encouraging. However, there was nothing directly provided for other arts sectors, most notably  visual artists or writers.  

Arts Law was pleased to see that the Attorney-General’s Department will receive $1.2 million over 12 months to review the intersection between copyright law and AI. The Department has announced that the funding will enable the establishment of a dedicated team “to intensify our existing work program on AI and copyright, including our work with the Copyright and AI Reference Group.” Arts Law participates on the steering committee of the Attorney-General’s Copyright and AI Reference Group and is looking forward to continuing to be involved. 

What the budget failed to recognise, and the Throsby and Petetskaya report highlights, is that artists need organisations like Arts Law to provide free and accessible legal advice and education to artists who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it. Affordable legal services assist artists in understanding their rights, so that they can build a sustainable practice. 30% of artists say they do not know if their IP has been infringed, which must arise through insufficient knowledge or access to education.  

This is where Arts Law can help, our free and low-cost legal services and professional development program equip artists with practical knowledge to protect their rights. You can help us continue this vital work by making a donation this End of Financial Year. Your donation will have a direct impact on artists and their incomes.

If you’re an artist and you want help understanding your legal rights – reach out to Arts Law, we can help! 

If you want to read more about the Throsby and Petetskaya report, or watch the Creative Australia information sessions about the report, they can be found here: https://creative.gov.au/advocacy-and-research/artists-as-workers-an-economic-study-of-professional-artists-in-australia/