Tuesday, 14 May 2013

I'm feeling irked.

A particular organisation, one I respect and support, is advertising a position for a creative writer to spend several hours a week facilitating creative writing workshops for a total of twelve weeks.

Which all sounds great until you realise there is no payment offered for this.

I wonder in what other sector or profession would this happen. Are writers supposed to feel so grateful and flattered by organisations asking them in that they won't need or expect any actual payment for their work, skill and time? Fair play (perhaps) if it was a one-off... but twelve weeks? Really?

I love facilitating workshops. And this particular series of sessions sounds right up my street. But on principle, I won't apply. Firstly, I need to use my working hours in ways that will earn me money (a girl has gotta eat). Secondly, if I applied, it would be like conceding that organisations making these requests are rightly entitled to do so. Applying would devalue creatives across the board; writers, poets, musicians, artists... it would be pricing us all down and out of our own market. I question whether they would ask a solicitor or an accountant to work for nothing. Yet somehow, it is seen as acceptable to ask creative industry practitioners to work on extended projects for no money. What I'm really irked about is that this is not an unusual request.

There are certain situations when I am delighted to offer my skills (either workshop leading or writing commissions) for no or a lower fee. This would be at my discretion, if the work was a one off, perhaps an organisation that has very limited money or access to grants and funding. Or a unique opportunity or work placement that is too important to pass up.

But sometimes, like in this instance, it just feels exploitative.

Rant over.

Still feeling a bit irked, though...

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