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Are Quebec audiovisual artists paid appropriately for their work?

(Le travail des artistes au Québec est-il payé à sa juste valeur ?)

February 25, 201525 February 2015

Situation of artists / Arts education

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Based on a survey of 407 French-language audiovisual artists who are members of six Quebec associations, this report examines whether “precariousness has become a normalized part of working conditions in this sector of culture”. Because the 407 respondents were not chosen by random sampling, the representativeness of the sample relative to all audiovisual artists in Quebec is difficult to assess.

With more than 90% of audiovisual artists working on project-based contracts, the survey found that working conditions in the audiovisual sector include multiple employment, employment instability, a “race for contracts”, “atypical work” conditions, and significant “invisible work”.

On average, audiovisual artists:

  • Worked on 6.75 projects over a two-year period.
  • Worked 29 hours per week on audiovisual projects.
  • Had significant periods of inactivity mixed with very active periods.
  • Worked on 4.3 projects that did not materialize (and were not paid for the average of 7 hours of work per week on these projects).

Unlike many other work sectors, artists themselves assume much of the risk related to projects that do not materialize. Overall, 10% of all projects required artists to defer their fees until the project materialized and generated revenues. The average personal investment in projects that did not materialize was $2,048.

The survey also found that 65% of audiovisual artists had sources of revenue other than their audiovisual projects, including 27% who had a job that was unrelated to their cultural practice. The overall income of audiovisual artists averages $43,500, compared with $41,200 for the overall Quebec population. However, many audiovisual artists have lower incomes. The median income of audiovisual artists ($30,000) is below the median for other Quebeckers ($37,400).

Based on these findings, the report concludes that precariousness is the norm for audiovisual artists.

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