Artists’ fees: “The cost of labour must be paid for.” | News | a-n

Posted in News by chrisfremantle on September 21, 2012

Reposting the report Artists’ fees: “The cost of labour must be paid for” carried on a-n about the W.A.G.E. event in Glasgow earlier this week.

It’s a pretty good summary of the presentations, and once again highlights the real challenges of working in the visual arts.  The Scottish Artists Union campaigns for better conditions and has guidance on Rates of Pay for workshops and residencies.

Corin Sworn highlighted the situation in Canada where CARFAC has secured legislation for exhibition fees – based on what was presented (which might be out of date) these would probably work out as about £750 for an exhibition is a public gallery with a turnover of less than £300,000 per year, and perhaps £1,400 for a larger institution. It’s adjusted for group shows, etc.

The principle is regardless of any budget for production, travel, per diem, installation, publication, the institution pays the artist in effect a copyright royalty payment for the right to use their work for the show.  This applies to institutions, not (legally anyway) to self organised events.  It’s not intended to hinder grassroots activity, although it does establish a principle to aspire to.

That principle seems like a sensible one on which to determine exhibition fees, i.e. not on how long did it take, was it new work or existing work, did the work take manual work to produce, etc.  Simply the institution is gaining (financially as well as in terms of profile) from being able to present the artists’ work, it is literally using that work, therefore it should make a payment for the use of the work.

Interestingly Lise Soskolne had done an analysis in relation to one organisation in NY where the exhibition fees were costing the organisation 1% of turnover and adopting the CARFAC model raised that to 3%.  Not a big difference for a respectful and appropriate recognition of the use of artists’ work by institutions.

Thanks to Corin and Charlotte for making this happen.

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