Proper compensation for creatives has become a hot topic recently. As the economy moves slowly towards a media-driven, technocratic paradigm, the issue of properly remunerating skilled workers in those fields and not simply offering them “exposure” has become vital. Take note, Kylie Minogue.
As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, a recent request for professional dancers to work for free on one of the Australian pop princess’ forthcoming video clips has caused a social media upheaval, after a number of dancers received a callout from dance schools and agents for the 11-hour shoot.
The clip for the Pharrell Williams-produced track I Was Gonna Cancel was choreographed by Sydney Dance Company artistic director Rafael Bonachela at Melbourne’s Docklands Studios on Thursday. But despite the big names attached to the project, one agency sent out a text to dancers that read: “Full-day shoot for Kylie Minogue video clip, unpaid but great opportunity and fun!”
Actors Equity Australia Director Sue McCreadie told the Sydney Morning Herald that dancers were informed that the lack of pay was due to the shoot’s “limited budget.” McCreadie insisted that it was unacceptable not to pay dancers, who typically earn $550 minimum for a full-day commercial shoot.
“There’s an assumption that people will work for nothing to get exposure and, of course, that undermines the profession,” she said. “One would assume they would have enough money to pay dancers who were involved in a music video.” News of the stinginess quickly flooded Twitter.
Melbourne-based hip-hop dancer Sam Gaskin received the callout but didn’t accept the work based on the pay rate. “Because I kicked up a stink about it, Actors Equity got onto it and contacted the production house,” he said. Producers later confirmed to Actors Equity that dancers would be paid.
Some, like Melbourne dancer Oliver Reading, said the matter highlights a wider problem in the creative industry. “If you were to ask a lawyer, a chef, to work for free for the experience, the economy just wouldn’t work and it needs to be the same for artists as well,” he told Fairfax.
— YourMusicRadar (@YourMusicRadar) April 25, 2014
— Chris Coleman (@CJCau) April 24, 2014
— Lizzil (@DamageDeluxe) April 25, 2014
— MR GEORGE SAVOULIS (@GEORGESAVOULIS) April 25, 2014
Following #paythedancers debate in Australia. Relevant to all artists who are asked to perform for free for the sake of "exposure."
— Caitlin Vincent (@caitlincvincent) April 24, 2014