Hello Artists! After a couple years in the making, the Teaching Artist Pay Rate Calculator is here. How much should you be making? Answers are here: Plug in your information and give the calculator a whirl. The purpose of this tool is to help Teaching Artists to negotiate at least a living wage, and to help hiring organizations advocate for funding to pay teaching artists that living wage. Brought to you by TAG, it is the brain-child of Kai Fierle-Hedrick, Lindsey Buller Maliekel, and Jacob Winterstein — with Lara Davis, Kenny Allen, Ami Molinelli, and Jean Johnstone. We are so excited to finally share it with you.
Our hope is that the calculator will act as a catalyst for the field. This will help us work towards securing livable, equitable wages for Teaching Artists and for the field of arts education. Teaching Artists and arts administrators both struggle to make a living wage. Together, we believe we can spark an important dialogue about this issue and work to better stabilize and strengthen the arts education, creative youth development, and community arts fields across the United States.
We want your feedback. This tool is in Beta, and that means we are still working out kinks and looking to perfect how we are delivering this information. Your input is crucial. From information about whether the tool is easy to use, to how it compares to your current salary, or how much over or under it seems to be based on your knowledge or experience of your region, we’d love to hear from you. We set up a forum particularly to talk pay-rates here.
How did we calculate these wages? We started by partnering with the Economic Policy Institute, whose Family Budget Calculator provides data on living wages in every region of the United States. Beginning with the base wage provided by EPI’s calculator, we created a formula that includes a percentage increase based on your experience and training, and information recognizing the size of the hiring organization. We also factored in whether the work was as an employee or as an independent contractor. There are many additional factors to consider that our calculator isn’t able to address (many of them listed on the site), which we recommend Teaching Artist also consider. For example, how many hours in a row you are working in one location, or whether planning time is included.
One of the inherent complications in creating this calculator is that as a teaching artist, by nature a hybrid profession, your work is rarely full-time employment for one organization. If you run the numbers, you’ll see that there is a significant difference between your suggested rate if you are are working as an employee, even a part time one, and as an independent contractor. To further complicate this, you may work in both capacities for multiple organizations simultaneously at any point during the year. Although we are unable to get down to that individual level of complexity and granularity, we attempted to figure out an hourly rate that reflected a yearly income at or above the living wage for your region.
As an independent contractor, we figured in the additional federal taxes you’d pay, plus the sick days, vacation, administrative days, and time for professional development you might typically (or should ideally) receive as a full time employee. If you are working for multiple organizations, this cost is spread thinly over each of them, so each pay their share. We also take care that no teaching artist hiring organizations are subsidizing your other, non-teaching artist work (as artists, administrators, baristas, dog-walkers, professors, or whatever other work you do which combines to earn your living). Of course, many teaching artists make anywhere between 10-90% of their income from their teaching artist work, so we shall let you explore the numbers to come up for the correct balance per your own work. Perhaps this feature can be included in the next iteration of the Calculator.
‘Til then, try it out, play with it, and please give us your feedback on the forum here.