The Government’s Australia Council for the Arts has released its most recent study on the Australian art industry, with its most telling statistic showing that there is a sizeable pay disparity between men and women.
According to the study, there are 48,000 practising professional artists in Australia, and the average total annual income for the industry is $48,400, 21 per cent below the workforce average.
On average, female artists earn 25 per cent less than their male counterparts, a considerably larger number than the reported workforce gender pay gap of 16 per cent.
Sarah Hughes, curator of Australian online art marketplace Bluethumb, observed that in her consultations, pricing was not consistent between genders.
“Do female artists undervalue their art, are male artists more confident to charge more or are buyers more comfortable to pay higher prices for art by male artists?” Hughes said.
“In my experience, it’s a combination of all three and so ingrained in the art sector that it’s incredibly hard to counteract.
“Female artists are definitely less confident when it comes to pricing and are time and again selling themselves short, barely covering expenses.
“But now we’ve seen this problem first hand we’re offering one-on-one support, running webinars, along with many other initiatives, to help build all our artists’ confidence and work towards equality”.
Top female entrepreneur and Shark Tank mentor Naomi Simson, commented: “It does not matter if you are a young female graduate, an artist, a teacher or an executive – women are paid less at every level.
“Those are the facts. But the issue needs to become less of analysing the data and more about making change.
“Leadership must want it and push for it; organisations must become more transparent about it; many women must shift the way they ‘regard’ themselves and really push for this change; men, equally, must support the women in their lives as we strive for pay equality.
“The fact is, organisations will continue to pay women what they think they can ‘get away with’, or what women will ‘settle for’ until we force change.
“The key is visibility and leadership”.