"Demonizing workshop sponsors is fun and in some cases deserved, but in reality workshops are business partnerships between instructors and venues. They need each other. Instructors need an equipped, safe and maintained facility to teach in. Without qualified instructors the venues are just very expensive empty rooms."
"Both sides of this equation have expenses. You have quite rightly pointed out the hidden costs of the instructor. Building and maintaining a facility that will support metals workshops [any media really] requires no small amount of capital for real estate, equipment, insurance and staff to run it (just to name of few expenses).
The real issue facing us all is how to determine a fair price that students can afford/willing to pay..."
Harriete continues: I also heard a similar comment in some of the Facebook discussions. It isn't that I disagree or don't recognize the expenses of managing a facility. There is no intention at finding the workshop sponsor solely responsible for the lowly pay for the Craft Master Workshop Instructor. The issues are multi-faceted and numerous. So let's look at some of those expenses for running a workshop for some insights.
The workshop sponsor pays the electrician, plumber, custodial fees, insurance, workman's comp, utilities, rent/mortgage, etc., all at the going rate. They don't negotiate and offer to pay a lower rate to the electrician because he/she loves the job or should love craft.
The workshop sponsor contracts for graphic design, advertising, and promotions. How else can people find out about their remarkable programs? They get a quote and pay the amount. The sponsor doesn't expect to get a discount or pay an especially lower fee because the graphic designer loves their program or supports the crafts.
Some workshop retreats offer food and housing. Does the cook cook food for a reduced wage because they love craft? Did the organic farmer charge less for their premium quality vegetables because they love craft?
So ....what is happening?
Actually I am not blaming the workshop sponsor. I am blaming "us" -- the art and craft instructors for giving away our talents at discount prices. The practice has become embedded into the culture. The workshop sponsors have come to assume that the easiest negotiable expense is the workshop teacher.
The workshop sponsor is indeed running a business and has found a bargain deal in the person that is supposed to love craft more than money...the Craft Master. Then offers the Craft Master the same wage from 30 years ago because they don't possibly expect more. After all, they really, really love craft and want to support the school, the participants, and the community.
Hey, someday I just want to be paid as much as an electrician.
This post was updated on December 13th, 2021.