Over 1000 people have so far pledged their support to a-n and AIR’s Paying Artists campaign by signing up via www.payingartists.org.uk. The campaign, which launched on 19 May, aims to secure payment for artists who exhibit in publicly-funded galleries. It has already resulted in several galleries amending or withdrawing unpaid opportunities.
Artist Ruth McLees, who has blogged about the campaign, said: “An art organisation has offered to pay me for work they originally asked me to do for free. Artists need to stand up for themselves. It’s important to place value on your skills, and by giving work away we undermine those artists demanding decent pay. I’m tired of being underpaid and feeling undervalued.”
Artist Gillian McIver has also been blogging about Paying Artists. She said: “Imagine doing any job without getting paid, yet your employer is a publicly-funded organisation that gets its income from the taxpayer and is staffed by people on full salaries, while you yourself have to go back to that same taxpayer and claim benefits. Who on earth would think that this is an equitable system?”
David Riley, who has produced his own line of t-shirts to promote the campaign, said: “Of course, there are times when every business invests its own cash in order to move forward, and there are times when it is OK to barter, when you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours works to everyone’s mutual benefit. But, when everyone else around you is getting paid, then you deserve to get paid too!”
The campaign has also prompted debate on Twitter, using the tag #PayingArtists. Some voiced their shock at the data published on the new Paying Artists website. Printmaker Catherine Cartwright said: “It’s outrageous that 71% of artists are not paid anything for exhibiting in publicly-funded galleries. Please support the campaign.” Artist Sam Clift added: “I’ve just signed up and so should all artists!”
Over the coming weeks, there will be more activities taking place as part of the campaign. Representatives from AIR and a-n will be speaking at two events in London on 23 June – Creative Campus at King’s College and Mapping Art Practice at Standpoint Gallery.
Artists are also invited to discuss actions with campaign representatives at AIRTIME in Bury St Edmunds on 25 June. There will be additional advocacy material published on the Paying Artists website soon, plus a brand new video promoting the campaign.
You can buy #PayingArtists t-shirts by David Riley here.