This week sees the launch of an ambitious event in South Korea designed to identify ways to improve the economic status of artists there.

The 2014 International Symposium in Seoul, organised jointly by the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture and Seoul Art Space Guemcheon (SASG), is a direct response to growing public awareness and concern about the welfare of Korean artists and the hardship they face when attempting to sustain a professional career.

Taking place on 27 November and focusing on the working conditions of self-employed artists, conference speakers at the symposium include: Hans Abbing, author of Why artists are poor: the exceptional economy of the arts; German sociologist Dr Carroll Haak; Yeongjung Park, senior researcher Korea Culture & Tourism Institute, responsible for enactment of Korea’s artists’ welfare law; and an artist representing the Korean Visual Artists Union.

Also speaking at the conference is former a-n director and visual arts researcher Susan Jones. She will discuss the impact of arts policies on the arts ecology and artists’ livelihoods in the UK as well as in Finland, Canada, Australia and the USA, while referencing the ambitions of the UK’s Paying Artists campaign. The a-n/AIR campaign has its sights on influencing the arts-interested public and the next generation of artists as well as government, arts funders and arts employers.

Artists’ fees framework

Jones’ presentation at the symposium will set a-n’s own artists’ fees framework among models of practice from elsewhere, including CARFAC’s well-respected guidance system in Canada and US-based W.A.G.E, whose ‘Certification’ scheme launched in October.

First developed ten years ago, a-n’s fees framework for UK artists includes a set of sample rates for budgeting purposes and an online interactive toolkit to help artists understand how to put a financial value on their work.

Through comparing and contrasting the various approaches to state support for artists and policies for improving their working conditions, Jones will aim to assist arts and cultural activists in South Korea to identify their own artists’ fees model, unique to the country’s ecology and circumstances.

More on

Fees to artists for exhibiting – models of practice – a-n research paper

An international view on artists’s fees – Published in 2012, Susan Jones looks at international developments