As AIR Council member Emily Speed has commented: “Everybody keeps shifting the responsibility of sustaining artists (the real lifeblood of the arts) to some other group.” With the public-sector arts funding cuts, we regularly hear of arts organisations who seem now to be expecting artists to work for little or no fee and production costs.
DHA specialises in high-level policy expertise and extremely effective communication skills. “We create compelling communications and develop policy and thinking” said consultant Tamsin Cox, who also worked with the Musicians’ Union to collect evidence for the recently-launched ‘Playing for free’ campaign. As musician Louis Barabbas said “Just because the motives behind my craft are not money-based doesn’t mean I’ll play a gig for nothing.”
Over 500 artists in Scotland have signed the SAU petition demanding fair fees and improved professional terms and conditions for artists from the funded galleries to ensure: “a reliable, accessible and effective infrastructure for artists and makers focused on the long-term sustainability of the sector and its organisations”. A recent survey there suggested 70% are earning less than £10,000 a year.
As part of evidence gathering in January, all artists on the a-n+AIR membership database will be asked to contribute to a survey of their economic circumstances. Artists will also be asked help identify those galleries that are recognising the value of artists in the fees and conditions they provide for exhibitions. This two-part strategy has been informed by campaigns by W.A.G.E in the US and Reko in Sweden.
a-n.co.uk December 2012