For the last eleven years, the organisations that represent visual artists, CARFAC & RAAV, have been trying to negotiate standards for the payment of artists at the National Gallery that would be binding – similar to a minimum wage. In 2007, the gallery suddenly refused to negotiate mandatory minimum fees; arguing artists have the right to be paid less if they choose. The gallery was initially found guilty of bargaining in bad faith but this was overturned in a split decision by the Federal Court of Appeal in March 2013.
The Supreme Court approved CARFAC’s request for leave to appeal in August. “We’re happy to have a chance to make our case for the fair payment of artists to the highest court in Canada,” said Karl Beveridge, co-chair of the artists’ negotiation committee.
Half ofCanada’s visual artists earn less than $8000 a year. Most artists want to have their work in the National Gallery – and there is a lot of pressure to give away their rights. Setting binding minimum fees would relieve that pressure and ensure that all artists who work with the National Gallery are treated fairly
CARFAC is appealing to members to donate to costs of continuing fight in court. “A donation of $25, $50 or whatever you can afford will help us make it clear to the gallery that artists not only have legal rights – but are prepared to defend them. “
a-n.co.uk October 2013