The Fairy Purse
Very briefly, the Fairy PurseNot to confuse with English slang term ‘furry purse‘ is a tool for fair payment and remuneration, that brings together three concepts: a self/ group-assessment, flexible salary and the "Common Wallet"Common Wallet: Practiced by a Belgian group of 10 art workers, sharing the same bank account.
Firstly, the Fairy Purse is an attempt to bring attention to dominant remuneration systems, sheding light into blindspots and unfair practices that traditional systems bring (especially within precarious employment which is rife in the arts). Secondly, the Fairy Purse can provide inspiration to install one's own fair(y) remuneration system within their organisation and thirdly it highlights the multiple economies that can expand monetary reward.
The name "fairy" relates to the idea of lighter and brighter; a more magical relationship with money and resources. Shifting from the concept of possession and centralised power to a playful point of view, opening up towards exchange and sharing economies.
A sense for fair(y)ness is a condition of the Fairy Purse, but it is also the aim: practicing the Fairy Purse should enforce and sharpen the sense of fairness.
Our relation with time is also challenged. In the Fairy Purse we still count our hours we work, but we put light on the periphery of that time line.
The Fairy Purse remunerates what is usually unpaid engagement, exploring the grey areas of work. As such, it is a tool that can help to deal with the line between ‘work’ and ‘leisure’ time, which is systemically blurred anyway in the arts-sector and often very problematic.
Other than many existing remuneration systems, the Fairy Purse can easily react to constant or unexpected change, in terms of personal engagement, but also in terms of budgetary changes. The Fairy Purse doesn’t exceed an existing budget. People receive "fairy points" (this can be renamed for each organisation… blue points, air drops.. whatever!), which is basically measuring engagement as such: time spent, quality of the work, personal benefits or general needs. The transformation of fairy points into money depends on the existing budget and the actual need of people. It is possible to convert fairy points later into money or having other advantages, exchanges or remuneration options.
In practice, the Fairy Purse can be used for a singular project or caneven be institutionalised on a regular monthly basis: In a project, the self-evaluation should be discussed in a group at the very beginning and the end of the project. In between, soft changes can be done individually. If there are drastic changes, this has to be addressed with all the group who are engaged in the project. A safe space should be created to do this work and power dynamics acknowledged.
On a regular basis, you give a personal perspective every month, but the self evaluation needs to be discussed every 3 month with a work-buddy and once a year with the whole group (being concerned).
The Fairy Purse can be a useful tool for transnational organisations, where it is difficult to compare and balance the different levels of local economy and the actual need for money of each member of the group.
Some other points that make this purse fair(y)er:
- Be fairy, be light, exchange more and buy less, share!
- The fairy purse has to remain transparent for other members of the group
- The proposed system and associated formula is a model, every organisation needs to adapt the tool to the existing local context
- Do you have other magical sources to get the money you need?
If we take the Reshape network as an example, we are confronted by various questions about the fairness of remuneration, which can be challenged (but maybe not entirely solved) by the application of a Fairy Purse: Through the Reshape network X cultural leaders from different regions gather in transnational working groups. All Reshapers get an equal amount of Y EUR. For some of the group, this may represent a 10-month salary while for others it equals less one-months salary. On the other hand, the Fairy Purse acknowledges, that people from regions with a higher economical salary may have more easy access to further financial sources. Not to forget, that the higher economical standard of one region might be built on a permanent exploitation of the other region. (tbc.)
So how does The Fairy Purse actually work?
Firstly - it is not finished at all, but here we go, let’s give a glimpse at a first draft version, sourced by a remuneration system developed by Christophe Joerin (TRNSTN):
A system of fair(y) remuneration is based on a co-efficient as outlined below:
Level of tension (the tension you feel in relation to this point):
- Low (problematic) = 1
- Standard (or if high tension, but punctually) = 2
- High (pronounced and regular) = 3
- Very high (exceptional)
The auto-evaluation is divided in 4 sections, where you are supposed to mark your ‘tension’ from 1 to 4.
- Importance of your role in the whole
- Positive image/ or recognition outside this job
- Learning effect / accumulation of experience through this job
- Personal freedom and autonomy within the role
- Social pleisure / fun / friendship / networking opportunities
- Other advantages
- General need of recognition / reward in any format
- Exposure to mental and physical health risk(s)
- Lack of availability (lack of time)
- Difficulties and stress inside the role
- Pertinence and precision precision of your contributions
- Eco-responsable behaviour
- Collaboration / care is shown in your role
- Initiative-taking / proactiveness
- Efficiency (regarding time)
- Coherence / consciousness / impact of your actions
- Effective hours (what you consider rather ‘real’ work)
- Grey hours (what you consider less ‘real’ work)
- Leisure time made possible by doing this job
Forming a calculation of those evaluation points listed above, a formula is created (Constraints plus Exemplarity minus Benefit multiplied by Time).
This then gives you your fairy points.Those fairy points go to your personal account. And here we move to the idea of a "Common Wallet"!
Every month (or any other time-line you define), you can transform fairy points into money according to your actual needs (of money). The existing budget available cannot be exceeded, which means that you calculate how much a fairy point is worth on this actual month (formula: real budget divided by all members fairy points). Whatever money of the budget that is not going to be touched (as some people prefer to keep the fairy points), goes to the liquid budget of the next month (or according to the other time-line you decided).
Fairy points can also be transformed into other "currencies", for example a ticket to a show, access to accomodation, help of some people etc. In this sense it creates at the same time an internal hyper-local currency.
The Fairy Purse is to be questioned and to be further developed!
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