Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania Becomes First Museum Certified by W.A.G.E.
Today, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA) announced that it will be the first museum certified by W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy), a New York–based activist organization founded in 2008 which advocates for artists to receive fair compensation from the institutions which contract their work. ICA joins a group of over 50 certified institutions since the program’s launch in 2014, including the Swiss Institute, Artists Space, Locust Projects, Jacob Lawrence Gallery, as well as the museum-related organization Open Space, a platform run by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art that publishes writings by curators, artists, and critics.
“ICA’s commitment to artists is at the core of everything we do. Our partnership with W.A.G.E. helps to set a new standard in the museum field, one that ensures equitable environments for the artists with whom we work,” said ICA Director Amy Sadao.“We’re proud to be the first museum to join this diverse group of arts and culture institutions across the U.S. who are certified, and hope that it will encourage other museums to do the same.”
“W.A.G.E. Certification was initiated in the absence of government regulation and with the understanding that the nonprofit sector is not capable of regulating itself,” writes W.A.G.E. “In 2008 when W.A.G.E. was founded, non-payment was an industry standard. Ten years later, paying artists is finally becoming standard practice.”
The decision by the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania to become the first W.A.G.E. Certified museum is significant because “it demonstrates that a museum is capable of meeting external payment standards, and more importantly that those standards can be set by workers,” writes W.A.G.E.
W.A.G.E. fees are calculated based on an institution’s total annual operating budget. With an annual operating budget of $4.8M, ICA is responsible for tracking all fee payments and remaining compliant by ensuring W.A.G.E. minimum standards are met for a minimum of one year.