When I moved to Seattle from SF, I was shocked at the rates of pay for aerial work, finding them lower than the rates I had come to expect from living in the City by the Bay. I was also shocked, delightedly, at how easy it was to make work for myself and create new opportunities. Unlike SF which was saturated to the core and fit like a very restraining (albeit fabulous) corset, Seattle was ripe for working, for making whatever it was you wanted to make, including a name. The lower costs of living and fertile atmosphere made Seattle comparatively a breeze to make a living in as an aerialist, even if the accepted rates were much lower. Seattle is a wonderful place to incubate as an artist.
After traveling and taking all kinds of gigs from the excellently posh to the miserably defunct, I know there is no reason to expect the pay rate to be the same everywhere you go. Hell the cost of milk varies everywhere you go. Performers travel thousands of miles to do a gig practically for free...why? Because it has other value. We won't travel 5 minutes to do a gig $50 less than our nebulous "bottom line"...why? Because we know our value. It is your own choice to work for what you want to work for. If you outgrow the rate, negotiate more or move on. (Don't know how to negotiate? See this insightful offering from my financial wizard-crush, Ramit Sethi: http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/how-to-negotiate/)
Do not stay in a place you do not thrive- but especially don't stay there complaining loudly when it is totally up to you, and no one else, what you get paid as a freelancer.
What's that you say? Have I listened to my deafening complaints? Well yes I have! I've complained about the standards, the environments, the demands, many of which I TOOK PART in forming, but prattled on with my thoughtless whining anyway. And here is the good it has done me......................nada.
A few things have come up in the past couple of days to put the subject of money on my mind. We don't want to out-price ourselves, undersell ourselves, or lower the bar for the rest of the local industry. Your choices are your own, but they will affect the rest of the local industry if you are working avidly. Whether or not you choose to care about that is up to you, but I would not recommend ignoring the people who make up the face of an industry, they stand shoulder to shoulder with you creating your fate as well.
One more eggroll to leave you with: http://capitalismmagazine.com/2002/08/franciscos-money-speech/
Now I must go murder an enormous fly. Yes you are right, I did not wrap up this post with an all-encompassing insight. Here's one just for Simonne: Follow the white rabbit. :)