This Artist-Activist Is Asking Women Artists to Raise Their Prices by 15 Percent to Fight the Art World’s Gender Pay Gap

Michele Pred is taking to Frieze LA to promote her initiative. Look for her in the dress made of pink dollar bills.

Michele Pred in her Equal Pay Dress with her Equal Pay purse (2020). Photo by Bud Snow, courtesy of Michele Pred.

Visitors to Frieze Los Angeles should be on the lookout for feminist artist and activist Michele Pred. She’ll be the one wearing a dress made out of dollar bills, each painted pink and stamped with the words “Equal Pay.” She’s wearing the eye-catching garment to promote her latest project, The Art of Equal Pay, in which she’s asking female-identifying artists to permanently raise their prices 15 percent, to help fight the persistent pay gap in the visual arts.

Pred announced the initiative last night, at the Standard, Hollywood, during a party kicking off the 40th anniversary celebrations for the women’s leadership nonprofit ArtTable. The price increase is set to go into effect March 31, which is Equal Pay Day—the date symbolizing how far into the new year a woman must work to match the earnings the average man made over the previous year.

“We all think about equal pay as women and know about the gender pay gap. It’s been a theme of mine for a long time,” said Pred, who has staged feminist art parades at events like Art Basel Miami Beach and UNTITLED San Francisco, and in New York ahead of the midterm elections. “A lot of my work is about igniting conversation, but I wanted to do something more concrete.”

Pred is working with a data specialist to crunch the numbers on the primary market and identify the current price differential between male and female artists. The preliminary results place the figure at between 14 and 19 percent, so Pred decided to set her price increase at 15 percent.

Michele Pred, <em>Equal Pay</em> (2020). Courtesy of Michele Pred.

Michele Pred, Equal Pay (2020). Courtesy of Michele Pred.

To date, 15 artists have signed on to join Pred in raising their prices, including Bud Snow, Michelle Hartney, Amy Khoshbin, and Yvette Molina. The artist’s website also lists the galleries, art collectors, and other art professionals who are supporting the measure. Collectors including Jean Chadborne, Sonia Marie, and Diane DiMenna have already pledged to buy works at their increased prices.

With the Equal Pay Dress and a matching, light-up handbag as an ice breaker, Pred will be using Frieze LA as a platform to spread the word about the initiative, speaking to artists, dealers, and collectors at the fair in the hopes of encouraging them to take part.

“We can’t raise our prices unless we have the collectors buying at higher prices,” Pred added. “I want to create real change.”

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