Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
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By: Emily Speed
Rather than talk about my work on here (I have tried it and it seems to make me quite despondent) I have decided it will be far more helpful for me to explore some of the issues facing artists trying to make a living out of this business...
# 50 [31 May 2009]
ARTS JOBS SUMMARY - MAY
An experiment in seeing how useful Arts Jobs actually is.. and what is actually being advertised out there.
Paid - 17
Unpaid - 36
Technical (stage/lighting/carpentry etc)
Paid - 38
Unpaid - 42
Paid - 8
Unpaid - 21
Paid - 8
Unpaid - 20
Paid - 61
Unpaid - 72
Paid - 205
Unpaid - 116
Paid - 36
Unpaid - 87
Overall for practitioners (admin section not counted)
Paid - 168
Unpaid - 278
Obviously a count riddled with flaws, and a product of random Emily categories, but hopefully an interesting load of numbers nonetheless. Internships were included in admin and pretty much constitute all unpaid numbers.
Lots of performance and art related jobs that were paid tended to be workshop leading rather then work for artists.
Design has so many unpaid opps as artists seem to advertise for help with their websites and photography in a barter style exchange on here.
Generally though it seems that artists, musicians and writers are the worst off with less than a third of the jobs featured on the Arts Council list being paid. Also, music and writing have the fewest opportunities, which is hopefully just because people advertise elsewhere?
This list also doesn't tell you which opportunities will actually cost money. Ah a sorry-looking list indeed, but then again, I'm sure most of us are aware how random Art Jobs can be!
Tomorrow - a summary of the Storey Gallery/Fly Eric seminar on Saturday. No figures in that one I promise.
# 49 [29 May 2009]
How could I forget? On Wednesday night I went over to Victoria Baths in Manchester to try a spot in Amy Sharrock's piece, Drift, there. This involved spending 20 minutes in a boat with the artist drifting around the pool in a daydream for two. The building is incredible anyway, so it was a win-win situation already. Anyone who knows me will know I love to swim, and I did have trouble staying in the boat and not plunging into the pale blue icy pool. So great to see the pool full of water and I was only disappointed that I had missed the underwater opera earlier in the week!
Anyway, how is this related to getting paid? Well, the discussion we had in the boat centred around making time to drift and how we are all so focused, driven and target oriented these days we can easily forget to do so. Amy was advocating a step away from living in technology and getting back into water, outdoors etc. I immediately said I was guilty of being a tecchie and she told me off for using the word guilty.
It made me think about what I spend my time doing and how much guilt can be attached to that. I can't stop tecching and I love the connections and information that comes from being internet-immersed. I do think, however, that I could be more efficient.. i.e. work for five days and then spend a weekend in north Wales with my husband and going swimming rather than mooching around the flat half-heartedly trying to do bits of work between cleaning.
While having my cup of tea in the cafe afterwards I got out my diary and wrote at least one OFF in each week for the next month or two. I shall work up to two OFFs in the near future..
# 48 [28 May 2009]
It's been a very hard week, workshops every day at the Tate and I have a very sore throat and closing eyelids. However, tomorrow is a day for getting all my cataloguing hours done before the end of the month (as usual!!). Also, I should say, a very well paid and satisfying week - the kind that doesn't come around too often..
Hoorah, no workshop Saturday so I will go to the symposium, with a travel bursary too, which is great as I hardly got paid anything in this months pay cheques.
Really looking forward to hearing how other artists make a living from their skills.
Other good news; an email from David Parish telling me I can have more free business advice seen as I have become a member of the Royal Standard - yes please!
Lastly, I am working on publicity and organisation in general for Dumb Objects, a show I am putting together at Wolstenholme Projects - facebook people look here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/event.php?eid=84...
Last thing I'm organising for ages - honest!!
Now, a peppermint tea, bath and bed with a totally non-art-related-escapist book. Ah, who am I kidding, I just picked up invisible cities and that is so very emily-art-related. Two out of three=good.
# 47 [22 May 2009]
Just been reading this article on a-n:
Excellent stuff and when it came to the checklist of possible costs to your practice from doing more than you are being paid for - I checked every one. Oh crap. This includes doing things such as using materials from your studio, using your own camera to document etc.. Some way to go on getting paid properly then.
I particularly liked the section on 'How to eat an elephant' - one bite at a time of course. Bit like my favourite joke from when I was a kid that my mum used to tell all the time: How many elephants can you fit in a mini? two in the front and two in the back. Why did this make me so hysterical? Hmm, not sure now..
Anyway, this money thing is particularly pertinent as I am doing a series of sculpture workshops for Find Your Talent/Tate next week and have already found myself doing more more more than I should. Pah. At least I have the support of another artist on these though so the pressure is less than normal, sort of.
Oh, and I went to Yorkshire Sculpture Park for a meeting this week, way before the contract has started (Sep 1st).. plus there is another meeting/artists' talk/workshop in two weeks.. I guess these have to be counted as two, or one and a half days out of the 20 planning included in the payment.
She is learning...slowly.
# 46 [19 May 2009]
Oh how I wish I could go to this, a tour of the new Storey Gallery also appeals (and because it is chock full of lovely and interesting staff):
"Artists have commercially valuable skills which are often not recognised, either by themselves or others.This symposium will explore some examples of artists who are doing that, and some routes for development. Speakers include artist and cultural icon Linder Sterling, artist and architect team Sans façon, and artist Olivia Plender. Each speaker will talk about their experience of working within the commercial creative industries and making the most of these opportunities."
This seems sensible; to acknowledge the fact that artists do not often make a living from selling work and look at how it can be done in real life...
# 45 [15 May 2009]
What have I been doing for the last year, really? I moved into my new studio on Monday and it is already a heady love affair. I long for my studio's company and just want to spend all my time with it. This time I am sure it loves me back, no empty promises or emotional blackmail; this is a straightforward studio that will not play on my emotions, I feel sure of it.
Somehow it just clicked and I started work immediately and if I didn't have to work today, tomorrow and Sunday, I would still be doing that. Roll on Tuesday....
A valuable lesson, much needed by me, that cheap is not best and that not being involved in everything all of the time will not kill me or make me a less interesting person. Infact, it may even make me a more interesting artist.
Value is to do with all kinds of things and clean air is one of them!
# 44 [12 May 2009]
I have been doing a bit of reading round for a blog entry I am writing for www.intute.ac.uk on earning a living as an artist. (These blog entries are paid and are slightly more formal than a-n!). As well as compiling websites in the UK that offer info and advice for artists - a full list to be posted soon - I started looking at what other countries offer their artists.
Something I didn't know, is that in Ireland, sales of artists' works are tax-exempt and have been since 1969:
Germany are looking at shortening the time before which artists can register for unemployment benefits. German artists also have the "Kün-stlersozialkasse" (KSK), an insurance scheme for self-employed artists and in 1981 the Artists’ Social Security Act made more links between the KSK and the social security system, although without speaking German, I found it difficult to find out what this means exactly!
In Canada, Netherlands and Denmark there are special pension schemes for artists and the Netherlands also has other benefit/support schemes, such as WAZ, but again my languages let me down. France has system in place to protect on use/reproduction of original work: 'droit de suite' but this naturally has its limits. Spain decided to follow France's example in 2008 and introduce resale rights for artists, not sure if this ever went through though... The UK has had resale rights since 2006 (starting on works with a minimum resale of 1000 euros), an IPO (Intellectual Property Office) report on the impact of those here:
Interestingly, all of the European countries I looked at (France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, UK etc etc) offer tax exemption to companies on corporate sponsorship of the arts and in most cases there are also tax breaks for purchasing works or giving works to public collections.
Lastly, an interesting website from Brooklyn looking at the relationship between art and law, a US focus naturally, but it is international in its outlook:
It does seem that artists' lives could be made easier in the UK through tax breaks, help with pensions or special schemes that recognise the unique and random nature of employment/earning as well as massively fluctuating and unpredicatable income. We do have a new deal for musicians, but not visual artists.
Trouble is, I am only just figuring out what I may earn and how I may earn it, nevermind what schemes/help would benefit me in the long term.
Image is by Susan Diab, who kindly agreed to let me reproduce this with the Intute blog entry, hopefully she won't mind it here too! What does it say? Work for a living or is it Work or a living... the ambiguity sums it all up nicely don't you think?
# 43 [10 May 2009]
Issue 2 out now, particularly enjoyed Rachel Marsden's piece...
Josie Faure Walker's piece 'Skip to the End' also made me chuckle, especially the advert in the bottom right:
'HELP. we're a sucessful commercial gallery that needs an intern to do all of the shit jobs for free. We are an equal opportunities employer, prioritizing minority groups that have a wad of cash behind them for the next 6 months.'
# 42 [10 May 2009]
Just in the Tate for a few hours today so while I am in the cloakroom I am reading the online research journal. The latest issue is all about gallery education, especially relevant to me this week! This article takes a look at artist as educator:
The Artist as Educator: Examining Relationships between Art Practice and Pedagogy in the Gallery Context
# 41 [9 May 2009]
A slightly better turn to the week with two much more successful workshops under my belt. I also have been incredibly heartened by the four (yes four!) emails and a very encouraging comment below after I posted my woes on the blog. Can I just retract eveything I said about artists not supporting each other? That was such a boost, as was going to see good stuff last night. Karen McLeod was performing at the Greenroom in Manchester as part of their Seed Fund programme - really fantastic stuff and followed by the Cholmondeley's and the Featherstonehaughs, a contemporary dance group with many laughs. I though Karen's performance really stood up against the main act too and was the most poised I have seen her yet. Those things always inspire don't they?
I have also been to see the space for DRAWN IN and have a chat with Bernadette O'Toole, who is putting the show together. We seem to have quite a similar outlook and interest in drawing so it was great to dredge up a lot of my research from the MA at Wimbledon and even better to have a place/time for a new drawing.
Did a book exchange too, with Gordon Shrigley from Marmalade press (we met at the IMT Gallery event) so have a very timely book (Spatula, How Drawing Changed the World) to read in exchange for my 'Lost at Sea'.
Swapping is for winners.
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