Don’t Apply For This Job!


Ok, here goes- my annual “first world problems”, futile, pointless rant about the arts industry:

I know that there is virtually no funding for positions like this, but still, asking someone to take on that level of responsibility for an org’s finances, in a job that will undoubtedly take more than 6 hours a week, for such low pay, and no job security, is a big ask. It needs to be said: all artists, ARIs and arts workers need to demand better pay and conditions. What we do is real work- it deserves real, comensurate pay, and should be funded properly. No-one expects Melbourne Museum to employ administrators under these conditions, why should Kings ARI, a gallery which has consistently helped to prop up Melbourne’s reputation for artistic and cultural diversity, promoted so eagerly by our Mayor’s and councils in glossy pamphlets, for many years at no profit, be expected to?

No disrespect or ill will to King’s intended, but I find it really distressing to see ads like these over and over again, and to see hopeful young people flocking to apply for them, not realising how far short they are selling themselves and their skills. We all need to push back – a cut in funding means a cut in service- how can the government or the public expect to continue getting so much value for such small expenditure???

A prickly truth is that, like too many female dominated industries (social work, nursing, publishing) a low bar has been set. For a long time, women had very little agency in the workplace, and those that did have careers considered themselves lucky to have the opportunity to work at all. Often, they were middle class, educated, and the onus was not on them to be the breadwinner- wages could be low, because no-one was relying on them to clothe and feed them. But a career in the arts now, and the work done there, should not be considered simply a folly of the well-heeled- a mere diversion for rich ladies. It’s appalling, exploitative and wrong that so much work in the arts industry is performed for no money, let alone the crappy wages offered in the ad above.

The worst part is how replaceable we all are- there is always someone younger, greener, more eager, and possibly financially supported, right behind you ready to take up whatever gruelling, underpaid, and highly coveted arts job you have decided to give up once and for all.


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