Live Performance Survey
Live Performance Members will remember that late in 2017 we sent out a survey seeking feedback from designers on how they see their working relationship to the companies that employ us. It has taken some time to distil the results, but we would like to take this opportunity to share them with you – beautifully formatted by Paul Matthews to make for easy reading.
We had a really strong response of just over 60 Live Performance designers, which represents the majority of Australian Live Performance designers. Most of these are APDG members, with half designing both sets and costumes.
Approximately 80% of designers have additional sources of income aside from their Live Performance design work, and revealed that they would need to design more than 6 full productions a year to derive a fair income – this being an almost unachievable task for most Live Performance designers given the amount of time it takes to design a production, and the amount of work available. The majority of designers work as independent contractors or sole traders, but substantial numbers are paid full or part-time PAYG, as a company, as part of a co-operative or under no contract whatsoever.
Surveyed designers confirmed their close working connection to the company that employs them with a strong majority indicating they would like to work as engaged partners and/or affiliated with the company, with their personal working relationships forming the strongest bonds with the company. However the majority of designers also revealed that they value their creative and professional independence.
The survey results dealing with tax and insurances reveal that it is highly unlikely that most designers would be defined as ‘contractors’ by the ATO. This is an interesting finding, as some companies are trying to reclassify designers as contractors, meaning that they would then become responsible for their own superannuation and insurances. This is a highly debatable point of tax law, which probably won’t be resolved definitively until a test case is run, but in the meantime designers should familiarise themselves with the ATO advice: https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Working/Employee-or-contractor—what-s-the-difference/. In any case companies are obliged to pay Super on top of the fee, unless you are contracted as your own company. https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Super-for-employers/Working-out-if-you-have-to-pay-super/Contractors/. These resources are particularly relevant as almost half of live performance designers revealed they sometimes or often have difficulty getting companies to pay them super, and the majority are under-insured.
The results are fascinating, and may make you think more deeply about how you work, and how the APDG can support you in the work that you do. Many thanks to Paul Matthews for assisting with the original survey questionnaire, as well as collating and formatting the results. Contact Caitlin at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Live Performance Committee if you would like to engage more fully with the survey information.