Beyond the specific exhibition payment models outlined through the project group countries – in particular the Swedish and Norwegian models – there are also a number of other international structures in place or in development.
These six examples outline various ways of managing and financially quantifying the value of the exchange between artists and publicly-funded galleries. All these options are worth further examination and all are a step towards better transparency and fairness in administering artists’ pay within publicly-funded projects. They all fit within one of two models: 1. a binding agreement that ensures a starting minimum payment; 2. a set of guidelines that encourage the acceptance of professional practice.
Denmark – The Danish Association for Visual Arts and Young Art Workers in 2014 developed and agreed an exhibition payment document that covers a contract agreement to award an artist fee, transport and production costs, details of artist sales arrangements, marketing and additional activity arrangements, project responsibilities, insurance and management of disputes. However, there are no set minimum artist fees and the contract at this stage is an optional agreement for any gallery/organisation to choose to undertake. http://www.bkf.dk/udstillinger Most of the website is in Danish, but the exhibition agreement (and the curator agreement) can be downloaded in English. For an overview of articles, follow this link http://www.bkf.dk/betal-billedkunstnerne-tema (in Danish).
Poland – The Agreement for Minimum Payment for Artists is a new initiative. Individually publicly funded institutions are encouraged to sign the document that sets minimum fees, making the signatories obliged to pay exhibiting artists – therefore this is an optional scheme. This issue is championed by the Citizen Forum for Contemporary Arts (Obywatelskie Forum Sztuki Współczesnej – OFSW) and is the first step in further improving artist working conditions. The next step will be the negotiation, signing and implementing of a Pact for Artists, which would become a new social contract between artists and the state. The new regulations would mostly concern the social and economic situation of artists – including regulations concerning health care provision, income tax, pensions, disability, unemployment and parental benefits, altering the Trade Union Law to allow independent artists to associate and the regulation of copyright issues, etc. http://forumsztukiwspolczesnej.blogspot.co.uk/ (In Polish.)
Canada – CARFAC has been recognised by the Status of the Artist legislation as the collective bargaining representative for visual and media artists in Canada (established 1968). Since 1977 they have established an ‘Artists Fees’ system which establishes a minimum fee for different types of exhibition graded to the size of exhibition venue (it’s budget). The fee is a starting point for negotiation depending on the artist’s background. These fees extend to other areas of practice, performance, film online use, reproduction, artist talks and linked to an annual 3% increase voted in through the membership annual AGM. It is the Copyright Act that provides artists with the right to require compensation for the use of their works when exhibited publicly. In 1988 CARFAC successfully lobbied for the inclusion of this right. http://www.carfac.ca/initiatives/
Australia – The National Association for the Visual Arts (Australia) has a Code of Practice for the professional visual art, craft and design sector accepted as the national best practice standard. It provides a set of practical and ethical guidelines for the conduct of business between the creative sector and galleries, agents, dealers, retailers, commissioners and employers. It is an essential professional tool for the negotiation of contracts, agreements and entry conditions, and for the explanation of the business protocols and procedures of the creative sector. Under this code of practice EPR is covered under artist loan fees that are paid to practitioners for the loan of their work to a public gallery in a non-selling exhibition. These fees are paid in recognition of the value being provided to the public, and the potential loss of income to practitioners while their work is on loan for a short or long-term exhibition and not available for sale. The fee relates to work borrowed from the practitioner directly, and not to work borrowed from a collector. A scale of fees was published by the Australia Council during the 1980s, and was last updated in 1997. These fees vary according to a base cost for a solo show, with multi venues and multiple practitioners fees then extracted from that figure. Recommendations from a coalition of artists in 2004 to the industry’s publicly funded galleries to increase minimum fee rates was reinforced when many of the Contemporary Art Spaces, which receive funding through the Visual Arts & Crafts Strategy directed at least some of that funding to increasing artists fees. In 2005 NAVA undertook research into the payment of artists’ fees by publicly funded galleries and found there was a great variety in the income and cost sharing arrangements between galleries and practitioners. https://visualarts.net.au/code-of-practice/
Ireland – In September 2013, after a year long research and consultation process, Visual Artists Ireland (VAI), launched Payment Guidelines for Professional Visual Artists. For the first time in Ireland, venues and artists are able to calculate equitable levels of payments, and correctly budget for a variety of artistic programmes that are undertaken in not for profit spaces. As a result of the 2012/13 research and consultation process, VAI realised that not only was there no consistency in the type of remuneration that institutions provided to artists, but that in many cases no fee was paid to the artist for their participation at all. In research conversations, along with reasons such as insufficient funding, one of the main reasons given for non-payment was that, unlike other professions, there was no national scale of payments available for reference. The guidelines are based upon international best practice, and are scalable for different sizes of organisations as well as the experience/reputation of artists. They also take into consideration the different work undertaken by artists within the context of exhibitions and supporting services. http://visualartists.ie/advocacy-advice-membership-services/
USA – Founded in 2008, Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.) is a New York-based activist group whose advocacy is currently focused on regulating the payment of artist fees by nonprofit art institutions and establishing a sustainable model for best practices between artists and the institutions that contract their labour. In 2010 W.A.G.E. launched an online survey to gather information about the experiences of visual and performing artists with the payment practices of nonprofit art organisations in New York’s five boroughs between 2005 and 2010. With almost 1000 respondents, the results of the W.A.G.E. Survey have become a key tool in concretely illustrating – and documenting – the common practice of non-payment. In March 2011, Artists Space (in NY) initiated a dialogue with W.A.G.E. about the implications of the W.A.G.E. Survey and W.A.G.E. Certification, resulting in the formation of a temporary research partnership between the two organisations. The partnership provided W.A.G.E. and Artists Space with a cooperative platform on which to organise a series of symposia/public discussions and strategic think tanks. Events began in January 2012 and were designed to engage a diverse arts community on multiple levels. Alongside public programs W.A.G.E. conducted research into Artists Space’s history of fee payment between 2005 and 2010, the same time frame as the W.A.G.E. Survey. W.A.G.E. Certification’s early principles also took shape through invitations from artists and institutions to travel to the UK and Europe. In January 2014, a group of minds from across the fields of labor, sociology, economy, theory, and arts administration, whose work has been central to W.A.G.E., convened to establish the policy for W.A.G.E. Certification, using Artists Space as a test case – exploring the organisation’s institutional structure and budget, questioning the conditions under which it operates, and the mechanisms it uses to determine the organisation, valuation, and compensation of labour. The Summit marked the conclusion of W.A.G.E.’s Research Partnership with Artists Space, and its findings were presented publicly at ‘Out of Alternatives’, a conference organised by Common Practice New York and the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College. Wage Certification was officially launched in October 2014, at which time Artists Space became the first organisation to be certified. http://www.wageforwork.com/
This article was originally published in January 2015.