2018 Pay Rates for Artists

Heads up

Each year, these rates increase, and you’re looking at our post from 2018!

Click here for 2019 rates

From 1 July this year, minimum pay rates under the Live Performance Award 2010  (the Award) have increased. This means that from 1 July 2018, your pay on funded projects may increase – this should affect all employees within the performing arts industry that are covered by the Award.

If you’re like ‘yeah, cool…what?’ and this sounds like a foreign language, read on. While the following only applies to funded projects (not co-operative agreements), it’s worth keeping your rights in mind and asking questions if you are unsure of anything before you sign on the dotted line.

Why do we care?

Performing Lines is committed to making sure creatives are paid appropriately for the work they do. While budgets vary wildly and there’s often flexibility required on creative projects, everyone should know their base rates before they start negotiating.


Here’s some handy questions to have in your mind when you’re reading a project employment contract.

  • Are you employed as an employee or a contractor?
  • Have a look at your weekly rate. Is it at least the Award minimum?
  • Are you paid holiday pay? (check the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website to see if you are entitled here)
  • Are you getting paid Superannuation (9.5% under the Award; 10% for Performers covered by the Performers Collective Agreement)?
  • Are you eligible for any allowances?

The Award covers all live performance industry employees

What is the Live Performance Award?

When people refer to ‘Award rates’, they mean the minimum rates within the Live Performance Award 2010 (the Award). Some performers and creatives may be covered under a separate agreement – a Performers Collective Agreement for example. This is a separate agreement made between the employer and  the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA).

The Award outlines the minimum wages and allowances employers are obligated to pay employees. Members of Live Performance Australia (venues, producers, arts organisations, etc.) are obliged to pay at least the Award rates (even non-members are required to pay minimum wages under the Fair Work Act  2009 (Cth) – see here for more information). If an employer uses the Performers’ Collective Agreement, those rates will be different.

Does it apply to me?

On funded projects, it should! The Live Performance Award 2010 covers all employees working in the live performance industry, and is classified according to level of experience.

This includes:

  • Performers
  • Company Dancers
  • Musicians
  • Production Crew
  • Support Staff

It is always worth checking the award minimum against the wage offered when you are signing an employment agreement; to ensure you are getting paid the minimum statutory rates.

What classification am I?

It’s different for each type of employee and this will depend on your age, training level, your role in the production, whether you’re a dancer or actor, etc. It’s different again for musicians and production and support staff.

Chat to your employer about your classification level if you have any questions.

What’s an allowance?

These are additional payments made on top of the minimum wage. These may include meals, travel, accommodation and laundry allowances.

That’s what your producer is talking about when they say ‘per diems’. These payments may also include a travelling allowance which is a payment that incorporates allowances for meals and incidentals (trains, taxis, etc).

From 1 July 2018, travelling allowance  has increased to $72.33 per day up to $361.71 per week (up to 5 days max) on top of your wage. If accommodation allowance is to be paid (ie. you have to book your own accommodation), that rate should be $126.40 per day up to a maximum of $632.08 per week, and can differ depending on where you are staying.

Per diems are now $361.71 per week

Help is out there

Well that sounds complicated. How do I know what I am entitled to?

It differs for every employee situation and between every production, so talk to your employer. They should be able to tell you exactly what you’re getting and why. All LPA members are required to pay at least Award rate, and can provide the dollar figures on request.

Award rates are the minimum you are entitled to as an employee in the performing arts industry. If you are being paid above award wages and allowances, these rates do not apply to you.

If you still have questions or concerns, you can talk to your Union or to other peak groups like Theatre Network Australia, the Australian Writers Guild, NAVA and Ausdance.

For serious grievances, you may also contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Why are people talking about it now?

From 1 July 2018, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) increased the minimum wage rates by 3.5%. Some expense based allowances also increased based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Your pay after 1 July 2018 should reflect this if you are paid award rates. If you are paid above the award rates, then your employer is not obligated to pay any increases.

Pay guides are available on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website. The Pay Guide for the Live Performance Award 2010 has been attached.

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Where we are and the history that precedes us informs how we work and how we move forward.