The policy column

Alistair Brown, Issue 117/01, p17, 01.01.2017
Pay attention
At almost every museum event I attend, someone raises the issue of pay in the sector – usually to decry low rates, or to highlight the abuse of museum workers’ goodwill and passion for their work. Anecdotally, museum work is undervalued and underpaid.

But what does pay in the sector really look like?

The Museum Workforce report, jointly produced by Arts Council England, the Museums Association (MA) and several other sector bodies, pointed out that: “A small majority of the sector earns less than the UK average wage ... but given their high levels of education, the museum workforce is paid, on average, lower than many comparable sectors.”

The report also suggested that there is a substantial variation between pay in the independent sector and that in other parts of the sector.

But I was left wanting to know more about the state of pay in museums. What are the typical pay rates for different roles within a museum? To what extent does pay vary between permanent and freelance positions?

This is why the MA is now working, with the support of arts council funding, to research pay and benefits across the sector. We’ll be surveying museums’ HR departments around the country this month to understand what pay actually looks like – and we’ll be publishing our first salary guidelines since 2009 later this year. So watch this space.


Sort by: Most recent - Most liked
19.01.2017, 13:38
Following several years of austerity and continuing budgets cuts proposed for the next financial year, together with a projected possible further 13 years (according to the media) of no potential pay rises, I can confirm that my organisation has not been in a position to award any pay rises since before 2012. Hopefully the Art Council Salary Survey will also factor in the potential fall in earnings brought about by inflation and a zero pay increase over the past 5 years.