At the end of 2012, Visual Artists Ireland undertook a survey of visual artists actively exhibiting and taking part in visual arts programming through support services. Results revealed that out of 580 exhibition opportunities covered in the survey, nearly 80% couldn’t provide a fee to the artist.

In many cases, production costs weren’t met either and in 43%, artists were asked to either pay or contribute to exhibition administration costs. Over three quarters of artists got no fee for education or outreach programmes, and of these less than a third received a contribution towards travel expenses.

Although artists being expected to exhibit and provide education and other support for free isn’t a new issue, the VAI survey revealed the endemic reality. “We see the primary cause is the low level of funding to the cultural sector with a heightened expectation about the scale and broad range of delivery, and a lack of clarity in the terms and conditions of funding.”

“This campaign is not a witch hunt with a name and shame policy. But we are looking for professional organisations to pay professional artists in an equitable manner, and to have a clearly advertised policy is in place. We are also want funding budgets set by government and by the funding agencies to be in keeping with such policies.

The result has been publication in September of a set of payment guidelines. Based on international best practice, VAI has created scales for different sizes of organisations as well as for the experience/reputation of artists. The spreadsheet calculator also takes into consideration the different work including installation time undertaken by artists within the context of exhibitions and supporting services as well as guidelines on public art commissions and copyright fees.


Watch: ASK! HAS THE ARTIST BEEN PAID? October 2013