Why we're paying almost everyone.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room...

We’ve all heard the phrase “It takes a village,” and well... you’re our village. You are our community that we are fighting alongside and for, to uplift and protect, to sometimes provoke but most importantly to broaden so that we might be able to hold our heads up high when we say that Wellington is for every person, and every kind of woman. Here at Kate Sheppard Place Women, we’ve been reflecting on how to be more transparent with you, our village, so that you could see the strides we’re making and the hurdles we are clearing. You (rightfully) asked “Why are you charging for this event?” and we heard you. We could offer the steely yet true truncated response and say change ain’t cheap, but perhaps if you keep reading you’ll find our perspectives to be a little more nuanced.

KSPW is charging for this event because we are committed to paying our presenters and performers. Something that isn’t widely known is that many speakers who present at ticketed events aren’t paid for their time and effort.  Neither are MCs, nor writers preparing copy for the event. While we’re cool with people proactively offering these services for free to support causes they’re passionate about, we aren’t cool with the expectation that hard-working, everyday people who are balancing such events with life and day jobs should also be expected to speak or perform without being compensated for their time and skills. We’re even less cool when this happens to speakers and performers from underrepresented or marginalised communities who are perpetually devalued and oftentimes disenfranchised systemically and financially. We want to begin to level the playing field.  If an event wants to tout (diversity) for clout, it should at a minimum be prepared to put its money where its mouth is and pay for that right. We’re a young organization, we don’t have very many means but we have this message and this is one principle we are not prepared to compromise on.

So, who are we paying?

  • Our speakers, panel members, performers, and MC

  • Writers we’re asking to contribute to this blog or to write about the event in their own publications ahead of the event

  • InsideOut, a national organisation working to make Aotearoa a safer place for all young people of minority genders and sexualities to live and be in, for their consultancy services

  • Draper Cormack Group, a fabulous PR firm who we’ve worked with from the start of the KSPW journey

  • The National Library, the venue for KSPW

  • Dink, the design company behind our beautiful logo and brand

  • Other suppliers such as AV providers

The only people we aren’t paying are the organising team behind the event, and volunteers joining the team to bring the event to life. Our organising team are smart, diverse, and to be honest, over-achievers who punch above their weight. They’re a team that recognise the need for a broader diversity and inclusion conversation, who are prepared to put themselves out there to help make that happen. While we hope that we’ll be able to provide a small stipend to this team in future years, we all know what we signed on for and give our time and skills freely.

We have two types of volunteers supporting the event: the first are friends and family of the organisers, or like-minded individuals who’ve connected with us via social channels to ask how they can help. The second are volunteers completing a five-week internship with the organising team with targeted duties, providing real-world NZ-based experience. We’re partnering with MCLaSS, a wonderful organisation focused on helping adults in the Wellington region whose first language is not English, to offer these internships – though that’s a topic for a future blog post!

To say that this is important to us would be diminutive because really, the ideology behind paying our presenters is the bedrock of our organization. In the future, we would love to use sponsorship as a way to further subsidize the cost to do this, but for now, there is a lot of woman-power behind this event and we’re asking you to back us with your support. If you are somebody who finds the ticket cost prohibitive, we hear you too, and that is why we enabled a Donate Ticket option on our Eventbrite (read more about that here)

Hopefully in the years to come we will be able to say that “it took a village, but we got it done.”

Lou Draper