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Bectu to survey art technicians to help standardise rates of pay


Bectu, the union for the creative industries, has launched a new survey for art technicians working in the UK that will help the union establish recommended rates of pay and help address low pay and pay discrepancies across the sector. 


The survey is open to all art technicians, art handlers, fabricators, framers and studio assistants working in the UK. The survey is available here:


The union will use the findings to establish the UK’s first pay guidance for the art technical sector, which will outline recommended minimum professional, general and managerial rates that will help UK art technicians better negotiate their pay.


Pay within the UK art technician sector is not yet standardised so workers have traditionally been offered very low rates. Many also experience pay discrepancies according to venue, location of work or other factors and frequently work overtime with no compensation.


One Bectu member commented: 


“Whilst working for an artist studio, I was on an eight-hour day rate. During busy periods, I would often end up working ten hours or more for a number of weeks. This included working away from home. When I said that I was changing my invoices to reflect the hours I worked, the studio and the artist stopped employing me. We do a hard job that requires skill, care, and patience. We can’t do it if we can’t afford to live.”



Another Bectu member said: 


“A major London gallery I freelance with refuses to pay overtime rates on weekends. We are only offered overtime after 10 hours work. However, we are never asked to work longer than 10 hours.”


Another said:


“I used to work for an arts centre in the Midlands that pays its art techs less than £100 a day (and still does). You're getting about a quid more than people working in the cafe, while having to build walls and work at height. I left because I don't think that rate reflects the job we do.”


The survey comes after Bectu’s art technicians’ branch launched a pay rates database (Union For Art Technical Professionals | BECTU Art Technician Branch | England -see under Pay Rates if you are a member) last summer, which has since received hundreds of responses detailing how much art technicians are paid at different venues. The branch is now seeking specific data via the survey to help establish a recommended minimum professional rate.


Bectu represents new and experienced art handlers, art technicians, fabricators and studio assistants working across the UK. Members work in galleries, museums, art handling companies and artists’ studios.


Joint Branch Chair of Bectu’s art technicians branch, Phill Wilson-Perkin, said:


“Low wages, irregular work and lack of security will lead to a decline in diversity within the art handling industry. It’s hard to see how individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds can make ends meet, considering the instability and inadequate rates of pay.”


 Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said:


“Everyone deserves to be paid fairly for their time and talents and art technicians are no different. A lack of standardised rates for the sector means that many art technicians have traditionally been offered very low rates, and we know that women and people from global majority* backgrounds often struggle to negotiate the same rates as their white or male counterparts.


“Being an art technician requires huge technical skill and, at times, risks to personal safety.  It is right that pay in the sector reflects these skills and risks and is standardised no matter where you work. 


“ Bectu’s rate cards have proven hugely successful in helping freelancers in film and TV to negotiate and improve their pay and we hope our pay guidance can do the same for art technicians. 


“We encourage everyone working as an art technician, art handler, fabricator or studio assistant to fill out our short survey, and to encourage their friends and colleagues to do the same.” 


* We use the term ‘Global Majority’ to refer to people who are Black, Asian, Brown, dual-heritage, indigenous to the global south, and or have been racialised as ‘ethnic minorities’. This is a collective term that first and foremost speaks to and encourages those so-called to think of themselves as belonging to the global majority. In using this term we recognise that these ethnicities are often defined in the UK as ‘minority’, but that globally, they make up the majority.

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