campaigning to improve artists' remuneration and rights through a collective voice

The importance of collecting information

In considering and debating issues regarding Exhibition Payment Rights within the seminar groups we have continually returned to the problem of how the artist builds a clear and compelling argument. Governments and strategic agencies will demand statistics and figures clearly indicating proven areas of growth, strength and weakness. This is another reason why, as individual artists, we need to work with a collective voice and ask questions of our whole creative sector so that the public and the government understand our arguments, and we are in a strong position to negotiate.

It is therefore vital that comprehensive artist surveys are conducted throughout each country to collect data using existing membership organisation’s networks. The questions that we ask need to be clear and direct, and formatting of information must be devised so that we can all easily share and cross-reference information between organisations and countries. Our future projects hope to develop this survey strategy throughout this seminar group and beyond.

Two examples of different types of survey projects: 

  • Since 2012 the Scottish Artists Union has been carrying out an Artist Membership Survey to collect a variety of information that will create a clear picture of the health of the visual and applied art sector in Scotland. Now with three years of surveys collected the SAU can start to cross reference issues to highlight connectivity, improvement, stagnation and change. Some issues explored include: types of creative practice; home/work locations; type of studio space; stage of career; what benefits or services are most needed; access to funding; opportunities to showcase work; income; employment; welfare issues; exhibition payment rights; contracts; views on creative support.   SAU report
  • The Reko Project was initiated in 2010. Reko examined the working conditions for Swedish artists who exhibit at art institutions in Sweden. The project aimed to promote greater transparency in the art sector, and has created a “Fair Trade label”, the Reko Mark, and awarded the Reko Prize 2010 to the most Reko art institution in Sweden. 86 art institutions were selected for the Reko Report and of these 60 have been assessed according to the Reko criteria. The evaluation was based on information primarily provided by artists, but also by exhibition producers and curators. Reko’s statistics are based on replies concerning 228 artists and exhibition occasions. At an early stage of the Swedish MU agreement this project acted as a kind of performance league table for Swedish galleries. Unfortunately the Reko Project is now closed – but the first report can be examined here.   reko report

Article originally published in January 2015.

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