By Claire Voon
Artist advocacy group Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.) is calling for the New Museum to receive certification to ensure all its artists earn fair pay as the building plans for expansion, funded by an ongoing $80 million capital campaign. In an open letter, the New York-based group expressed concerns that the museum will not properly compensate the people “upon whose work [its] existence is predicated,” the letter reads, as its programming naturally also grows. W.A.G.E. Certification is a voluntary program that signals an organization’s commitment to fees that meet a minimum pay standard.
The $80 million will pay for the takeover of the neighboring building, currently home to museum-led incubator New INC, but it will also triple the New Museum’s endowment. The museum has so far raised over half its fundraising goals thanks in part to a gift from collector Toby Devan Lewis, who provided an undisclosed amount that represents its largest single donation in its history, as the New York Times reported. W.A.G.E. is also asking the museum to request that Lewis provide the funds to make certification possible.
New Museum Director Lisa Phillips noted that the millions of dollars is intended to present an opportunity “to do things that museums haven’t done yet or maybe even imagined,” according to the New York Times. W.A.G.E. cites her statement as reason for its confidence that the New Museum will be open to certification; if the museum accepts to join the program, it will become the first WAGE-certified museum. The next application deadline is June 1. Hyperallergic has reached out to the New Museum but has not received a response.
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