Exploitation in the arts is a hot topic at the moment. I have just read Emily Speed’s fantastic report on the issue in the February edition of a-n Magazine. In it she discusses the case of Nicola Vetta, who worked on an expenses-only basis for London Dream Motion Pictures Ltd. Her situation has recently been ruled as illegal by Reading Council. Vetta said of the ruling, “This practice seems to be increasingly common. Working for free is becoming accepted as a necessary investment to securing a paid job. I hope that publicising this case will help to reverse that trend.” Her case was supported by BECTU.
This is an important ruling for those in the creative industries, particularly younger workers at the beginning of their careers, many of which offer their services for free in the hope that it will lead to a paid position. I have experienced on countless occassions practitioners undervaluing their work. In several instances employees have been asked to perform tasks completely outside the terms of their contract. One reputable London museum even asked an acquantance of mine to stand for 8 hours with only a short break in the middle. They were rewarded with little more than £10 to cover food and expenses. The same company told another (fully paid) staff member recovering from cancer he could not have a break as soon as he arrived despite having to travel to work via London’s rather stressful transport system. Does this not border on cruelty?
Now is the time for a sustained protest against our continued exploitation. This is essential if we are to receive financial and ethical stability now and in the future.
To read Emily’s article head to the a-n website: http://www.a-n.co.uk/publications/article/600067/73718
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