Tutorial: Block 4, Week 7

David Somers bio photo By David Somers Comment

A look at the recent campaign in the UK looking at the issues around paying artists. AN have been exploring this for a couple of years now The outcome of their research and campaigning is the following guide and website.


Patrick said they were:

garden shed gilbert and George

Quite accurate!

They’re not the same Harrison & Wood (Charles Harrison & Paul Wood) that wrote Art in Theory. Artists John Wood and Paul Harrison.

Jonathan is working today from a café instead of from Camberwell because he and the studio-based cohort were at an expo visited earlier today. The exhibition included some of their drawings showing the plans for the work — all filmed between 1993-1998 — and the drawings and ideas were available.

wood and harrison

A quick administrative note: The unit 1 assessment is due Tuesday. End of day will be fine. The blogs will be looked at from Wednesday morning. All the research papers have been assessed by Gareth and Jonathan is doing the second read over the weekend!

Working for exposure vs for payment. Gah!

Leonie pointed to 2016 Power 100 — This year’s most influential people in the contemporary artworld and Jonathan added this about #1 Hans Ulrich Obrist from the Spectator:

I have heard Obrist speak and could not detect any meaning in what he said

It’s art world top of the pops, artsy did a breakdown which makes it more interesting.

Some galleries or project spaces that get some public money — used to pay for the space or the management staff — their money from the Arts Council, for example, often needs data to back it up (e.g. numbers of people who have attended the show to shows “public engagement”, education efforts such as asking a group of school children to come to the show) but but all this is built on the exhibition itself, the work of the artist, but often they don’t get any pay at all.

I think their emphasis on these four principles is so practical, realistic and helpful:

  • Transparency
  • Budgeting
  • Negotiation
  • Written Confirmation

At the end of the PDF guide there is a suggested fee structure. A starting point for negotiation. Negotiations easier because here is a guide from the largest artist membership organisation almost anywhere in the world, it can be a framework for discussion, and moves the focus to the value of the work.

This campaign is encouraging the culture of seeing art as valuable for public life and that artists should be paid for their time even in an exhibition where their work is not for sale and particularly if the place where it is shown has some public funding of some sort.

Here’s a site that says it all, mainly for designers, but the message is the same. Don’t work for spec.

A manifesto for paying artists

A final statement from the guide:

The Paying Artists Campaign believes that artists are workers who should always receive fair payment for their contribution to publicly-funded exhibitions, and artists should always be paid if other people in the project are.

And a final call to arms statement:

There is power in artists working together to make things happen

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