Artist Against Exploitation

Painted Lady butterfly watercolour

Watercolour of Painted Lady butterfly

Job offers are great, aren’t they? Imagine that warm feeling when someone has sought you out; they must like your work, appreciate your skills, and think of you as a valued member of their team, mustn’t they? Maybe not.

Last week I was asked to tutor a regular Saturday watercolour class for beginners by an organisation offering classes nationally. I won’t mention their name to protect the guilty.

Their website boasted “local” tutors, but when I looked at the venue they were offering me it was 30 miles away, giving me a round trip of 60 miles and at least two hours driving.

In their tutor FAQs they stressed the tutor’s local knowledge would be key to find the best painting sites. In reality this would mean an advance visit to the area – another 60 mile trip, two more hours driving and however long it would take to scout out the best venues.

Their class size specified a maximum of six students, which would be good news for the participants. Even better was the minimum of one – great for the student who has a whole day of one to one tuition, less so for the tutor who is paid per student.

Ah, the payment: £30 for the first student and £15 per student thereafter. So if only one student booked the tutor would be committed to a day’s teaching for the princely sum of £30, out of which expenses must be deducted. If all six places were booked the vast wealth of the tutor would rise to £105 minus expenses.

Watercolour of Little Owl

Watercolour of Little Owl

I suspect the organisers have multiplied the number of hours spent purely teaching by the minimum wage to arrive at their lowest figure. Add in the extra visit and the time and costs spent travelling and the tutor is actually working for far less than the recommended minimum wage for an unqualified sixteen year old.

The tutor’s artistic skills, teaching ability and experience are therefore valued at zero. Why would anyone want to work for a company that clearly doesn’t value their skills? Sadly though, in my experience this company is far from alone in believing that exploiting artists is acceptable practice.

Needless to say, I declined their kind job offer.

What’s your experience?

About Jackie Garner

Wildlife artist.
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