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.
The New Museum, designed by Tokyo-based architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA, is a seven-story, eight-level structure located at 235 Bowery between Stanton and Rivington Streets, at the origin of Prince Street in New York City.