Creative time is time spent doing, thinking, moving in a way that brings something into the world. It’s often unstructured, open-ended time that does not have a predetermined outcome. The beauty of creative time is that even if goals are not met, or there are questions unanswered, it is never time wasted. Creative time is its own reward.

People are not given enough creative time. Between the grind of work and social reproduction tasks of cooking, cleaning, childcare, laundry, rest, self care, and more, it is difficult to set aside dedicated time for creative pursuits. Wages for Art(work) is an experimental art project in which participants are compensated for an hour of creative time. The sessions take place during the artist’s working hours and are funded by half of the artist’s hourly wage. The name of this project is inspired by the 70s feminist movement Wages for Housework, which made the political argument that housework and other unpaid labor is a form of work and should be compensated as such.

Since Covid-19, there has been movement towards compensating people for creative time, for example, the guaranteed income for artists program by Creatives Rebuild New York. As well, organizations such as W.A.G.E. and Get Artists Paid have provided resources, created industry baselines, and started conversations to ensure artists receive fair compensation. Wages for Art(work) takes a micro approach to address the issue of uncompensated creative labor. Unlike most artist grant programs, participation in the project has few strings attached; participants are only asked to share a snapshot of their creative time spent for the project’s digital archive.

Wages for Art(work) is an experiment. The goal of the project is to open up space for people to engage with creativity on their own terms. The future of the project is open as well, and will depend heavily on feedback from participants. Ultimately, this project seeks to leverage the artist’s labor power to give creative time back to working people, one hour at a time.