Cedars Union Becomes First W.A.G.E. Certified Dallas Organization

by Christopher Blay May 7, 2021

An interior shot of the Cedars Union studio spaces

The organization Working Artist and the Greater Economy, W.A.G.E., has certified the Cedars Union in Dallas — a non-profit art incubator for local visual artists founded in 2015 which is a first for art organizations in the Dallas/Ft. Worth region. W.A.G.E.’s minimum-wage standards for creative work advocates for artists working with arts organizations, and certifies institutions who voluntarily commit to its standards.

Art League Houston and Blue Star Contemporary in San Antonio are two other Texas art organizations who have been W.A.G.E. certified since the organization began its program in 2008.

Says Rachel Stanfield, Cedars Union Managing Director: “Though we are proud to be the first, we’d take greater pride in starting a trend. It sounds simple, but committing to fair pay structures for artists can really transform arts in the region and build a more equitable creative ecosystem.”

W.A.G.E. Artist advocacy organizationThe certification exemplifies the need for such a program to be more widely adopted, considering that artists often work with handshake deals and no written contracts for their labor. A recent story Glasstire reported on described one such agreement between artist JD Moore and Fort Worth’s Graffiti Abatement Program, in which Moore was reportedly told to stop work on a public mural he was creating for free, under threat of a trespassing citation.

Says Cedars Union Marketing and Programs Manager, Adrienne Lichliter-Hines: “We’ve used W.A.G.E.’s pay standards as a guide since 2019, but becoming certified is an important action as we move forward and grow as an organization. It ensures we never cut corners on what we pay artists for our programs — if we can’t make it work in the budget, we can’t do it, and really that’s how it should be. Unfortunately right now it’s accepted that an opportunity for an artist often means they are out money. That’s not a good system for creatives to thrive in.”

W.A.G.E. has a fee guide which artists and art organizations can use to determine fair wages. For the guide, please go here.
For more on the Cedars Union, please go here.

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