Guideline for artists’ fees

The guideline for artists’ fees was jointly developed by various organisations and associations in the art world in the Netherlands, the members of which are faced with fees for visual artists on a daily basis. The guideline was developed on the basis of field studies conducted on behalf of BKNL. With this guideline, the sector makes a coordinated effort to come to a more professional contract and negotiation practice relating to non-selling exhibitions (hereinafter referred to as exhibitions).

The aim of the following guideline is to pay artists for the work they do for the purpose of exhibitions and other presentations, apart from their expense allowance. The guideline helps both artists and institutes and museums. Everyone who works within visual art, as an artist, institute, commissioner or as a representative of the sector, can make use of the calculation model and the checklist, which form part of the guideline. To this end, an online calculator has been developed.

This calculator computes the minimum fee per artist per exhibition, depending on the duration of the exhibition, the number of participating artists, and the question whether it is a new or existing artwork that is presented. For any situation, the calculator computes the minimum amount from which negotiations can be reasonably conducted.

Considerations about the guideline

The guideline for artists’ fees has come about with the following considerations in mind:

  • visual artists are the source of visual art;
  • museums, art platforms and visual artists acknowledge that the current way of remunerating visual artists is often not professional enough and that the negotiating position of artists is weak;
  • the Social-Economic Council (SER) and the Council for Culture conclude that the income position of those working in the cultural sector is worrisome;
  • parties have decided to draw up a remuneration guideline from the wish to improve the worrisome position of artists, by professionalising the contract practice, making the discussion about reasonable payment for visual artists a regular part of the budget for exhibitions and other non-selling presentations;
  • the minister of Education, Culture and Science is committed to good commissioning and a broadly-based payment guideline that aims to improve the income position of visual artists;

On the basis of these considerations, the participating organisations agree to apply the following guideline. This guideline aims to professionalise the contract and negotiation practice with regard to artists’ fees in visual art, by paying artists for the work they do for the purpose of exhibitions and other non-selling presentations, apart from their expense allowance. This guideline is based on the principles of ‘comply or explain’ and ‘comply and explain’.

1. Definitions

Art institute: a publicly accessible organisation based in the Netherlands, which exhibits contemporary visual art, and whose core activity is presenting visual art and/or heritage without the purpose of selling.

Artist: the person who professionally creates work within the framework of visual art.

Visual art: contemporary and current forms of expression created by artists within one or more of the following areas:

  • drawing, painting, and graphic arts,
  • sculpture, (social) sculpture and installation art,
  • conceptual art, performance art, artistic research,
  • non-traditional forms of visual art,
  • photography,
  • audiovisual, digital, sound and (new) media art,
  • applications of visual art,
  • art in public space.

Contracting parties: the art institute and the artist entering into a contract with regard to activities of the artist in the context of an exhibition.

Artists’ fee: the payment for agreed upon activities in the context of an exhibition, apart from an expense allowance.

New work: work developed by the artist on behalf of or at the request of the art institute, and/or work selected by the curator, which has never previously been exhibited in a public exhibition.

Existing work: work that needs no modifications and which has already been presented in a public exhibition.

Modification to existing work: work that does not fall within the categories of new work or existing work. This may for example concern existing work that needs to be executed again, or activities for the modification of an installation to fit into the exhibition area.

Activities: a wide range of activities, apart from producing the work, which relate to the organisation of an event or exhibition, including any guest curatorship.

Solo exhibition: an exhibition featuring work by one artist.

Duo exhibition: an exhibition featuring work by two artists exhibiting their work together.

Group exhibition: an exhibition featuring works by two or more artists.

2. Remunerations


With regard to the artists’ fee, four types of sub-activities are distinguished:

  1. the creation of new work and/or the modification of existing work (labour),
  2. activities related to the creation of work for an exhibition (labour),
  3. activities for an event or exhibition (labour),
  4. the contribution of work owned by the artist for the purpose of an exhibition (usage).
Standard Remuneration

Standard remuneration is presented in minimum payments, derived from preliminary studies conducted by SiRM / PPCM on behalf of BKNL. These minimum amounts are the starting point for upward negotiations. The remuneration fees are presented in a table in Appendix 1.

The standard remuneration for activities (1), (2), and (4) are based on the legal minimum wage. These amounts are indexed annually. The amounts in the table use the indexation dated 1 January 2021.

The stipulated amounts in appendix 1 are exclusive of VAT in case it concerns services liable for VAT. The minimum amounts function as a guideline for art institutes with an annual turnover of up to 500,000 euros. Museums and art platforms with an annual turnover of 500,000 euros and more are expected to increase the fees in all fairness and by mutual agreement with the artists. This occurs on the basis of the ‘comply or explain’ principle.

For sub-activities (1), (2) and (4), the guideline is a remuneration system with standard and standardised minimum amounts per artist and per exhibition, for exhibitions and other non-selling presentations, apart from an expense allowance.

For exhibitions with combinations of ‘new work’, ‘existing work’ or ‘modification to existing work’, the category with the highest remuneration determines the minimum payment to the artist.

For sub-activity (3) there is a variable remuneration, which corresponds with the salary (including holiday allowance and surcharge for employers’ contributions) of a member of staff of the art institute doing similar tasks.

Production fee

For sub-activities (1) and (2) there is a standard fixed production (labour) fee per exhibition.

Usage fee

For sub-activity (4) there is a standard monthly usage fee. The usage fee is paid for at least 1 month and for a maximum of 24 months.

Duo- and group exhibitions

The production fees and the usage fees for duo and group exhibitions are based on the fees for solo exhibitions.

3. Run-up process

In order to ensure a smooth and gradual implementation of the guideline, a run-up procedure was adopted. Until the end of 2019 a classification was employed based on turnover categories. For the institutes with a turnover of up to € 500,000, a run-up percentage of 50% of the standard fee based on the guideline was possible. The run-up percentage for institutes with a turnover of more than €500,000 was 70%. By 2021 the payments to artists should be at the required minimum level.

4. Comply OR explain / comply AND explain

The guideline, with an adjusted terminology, runs parallel to the Cultural Governance Code.
Anyone who, because of the character or size of their organisation, wishes to deviate from the guideline for artists’ fees is free to do so. Nevertheless, within the framework of accountability and transparency, it is important in such cases to be able to explain that choice. Hence the principle of ‘comply or explain’. Also when the guideline is complied with, it is important to fully inform the contract partner about its implementation. Hence the additional principle of ‘comply and explain’.

5. Checklist

For drawing up and establishing agreements between contracting parties, a checklist was drawn up as help and guideline for the contract negotiations. The checklist is included in Appendix 2.

6. Monitoring

The chosen normative principles, the effectiveness of the guideline and the execution aspects during the run-up process were evaluated in 2018. In time, there will be a new round of monitoring and evaluation. Elements that will be addressed are: the way the guideline and checklist are applied, the financial consequences for the institutes, the effects on the number of exhibitions, the normative principles chosen in the preliminary study; also, the definitions chosen in the covenant, and the run-up percentage.

7. Appendixes

Appendix 1 – Calculation model of minimum remuneration

Appendix 2 – Checklist

  1. Definitions
  2. Remunerations
  3. Run-up process
  4. Comply OR explain / comply AND explain
  5. Checklist
  6. Monitoring
  7. Appendixes