What is the Paying Artists Campaign

Visual artists in the UK are regularly expected to develop and exhibit their work without a fee. We don’t think this is right.

The Paying Artists campaign aims to secure payment for artists who exhibit in publicly-funded galleries. We believe paying artists for the work they do will mean that, in years to come, we’ll still be able to access quality art which reflects the broadest possible spectrum of human experience.

Whether you’re a gallery visitor, artist, art student, policy maker or run a gallery find out more by visiting payingartists.org.uk – make sure you read our report ‘Paying Artists – Securing a future for visual arts in the UK’ and sign up to the campaign.


Why pay artists

63% of artists have had to turn down requests from galleries to exhibit their work because they cannot afford to do so without pay.

  • Over time, more and more artists are questioning the time and resources they spend on their art – and are giving up on art altogether.
  • If there are fewer artists, we will lose the diversity and innovation that is so fundamental to visual arts.
  • We will lose the massive tourism benefits and the £1.9 billion that visual arts brings to the UK economy.
  • Above all, we will lose the benefit of what art does best – help us see the world from other perspectives and give a voice to different communities.

Download our case studies here.


What needs to happen

It doesn’t have to be like this. It is possible for art to be affordable for galleries and the public, AND for its creators to be paid. In many other countries, and some galleries in the UK, artists are already paid for their exhibitions.

We’ve identified five steps which we believe will help achieve payment for artists in the UK:

1. Encouraging openness about gallery payment policies

2. Creating national policy and guidance on paying artists

3. Including pay policy in funding agreements

4. Research into payment of visual artists

5. Giving artists the tools to make their own case


Support paying artists

Some of the UK’s leading arts organisations are supporting the campaign, including DACS, Artquest, Axisweb, NSEAD and Arts Development UK. International support has come from the Swedish Artists’ National Organisation, CARFAC in Canada and Visarte in Switzerland.

Others to voice their support include the Jerwood Charitable Foundation Director Shonagh Manson. She said: “Paying artists creates value, it doesn’t simply ‘cost’ it. Not paying artists limits the potential of the work they can create and the value audiences derive from it. We know that talented artistic voices are lost as the challenge of making ends meet increases. We can all contribute to changing this and achieving a fairer context for artists’ practice.”

Emily Pethick, Director of The Showroom, a publicly-funded London gallery which pays average fees of £2k to four commissioned shows from artists a year, said: “It’s really important to make this issue of the artists’ economy visible. There is a lot of cultural production in this country but the people who are paid least within it are the artists. It really does need a big rethink.”


What you can do

1. Pledge your support Sign up to get campaign updates

2. Join the debate – Whether you’re a gallery visitor, artist, art student, policymaker, or run gallery you can get involved

3. Do something – Whoever you are, tell your local councillors and MP that you believe artists in your local gallery should be paid [download the template letter here] and look out for our updates on how you can play an active role in securing the future of artists.



More information: www.payingartists.org.uk

Add a Paying Artists Twibbon to your Twitter and Facebook profile image: http://twibbon.com/support/paying-artists-campaign

Follow Paying Artists on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AIRartist

Follow AIR on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AIR_artists

Join the conversation on Twitter using the tag #PayingArtists