Tag Archives: workplace relations

petition to raise artists fees

Sydney Art Seen Society: meeting no. 1
Thursday, 8 July 2004, 7:30pm
Reginald Murphy Hall, Kings Cross

Gail Hastings and Lisa Kelly organised this meeting to lobby for “a raise” in artists fees for exhibitions in Australian galleries and museums which receive government funding. They have been distributing a petition to that effect. About 40 people were in attendance, at my rough estimate, maybe half of them being artists. The other half were, I reckon, “soft spies” – that is, folks who work at government funded galleries who came along to check out what might happen. It was a rainy night, and Sydney people being who they are, it was probably a pretty good turn out.

There was some contention as to the details of the “demands” in the petition – at least $2000 for solo exhibitions, and at least $500 per artist for group shows. Some artists, like Marg Roberts, reckoned that this amount was just as tokenistic as asking for $50. For Marg, something in the realms of $20,000 was more realistic.

Damien Lawson made a clear comparison between galleries and employers, both of whom have it in their interests to reduce “labour costs” to a minimum. He advocated a more “french” way of organising artist’s wages, something ongoing like a “living wage” and referred to a big artists strike in Paris which ground the big summer arts festivals to a halt. The “living wage” idea (was/is this in place in New Zealand?) also would accomodate the vast majority of artists who DON’T exhibit in government-funded galleries. Lawson’s points were important, I thought, because no matter what the nuts and bolts are of the “demands,” it will be essential for artists to have some kind of solidarity and collectivity in order for it to succeed. Artists seem to always suffer from this idea that we are “individuals” – not to mention the very opportunistic and competitive nature of the contemporary art world.

Chryssy Tintner from Viscopy was there, and she was good to have at the meeting because she pointed out the discrepancy between what is standard procedure in the paying of royalties for the use of music in commercials, for example, and the amount paid for the reproduction of artworks. It’s all part of the same set of rights that visual artists don’t have…
Tamara Winikoff from NAVA was there too – she provided essential information about the ongoing campaigns that NAVA has been involved in to try to improve artists rights – it will definitely be necessary to continue to collaborate with NAVA.

One of the issues that was glaringly obvious was the rarity of this kind of meeting – that artists are not very good at working collectively – and it would be good to get more information about the history and activities of the ArtWorkers Union – it may be necessary to revive the union to become once again a workable grassroots organisation.

A follow up meeting will take place at 2:00pm on Saturday, 17.07.2004 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales coffee shop.

For more information and the full minutes of the meetings, email sydneyartseensociety@yahoo.com

ps the original call out for this meeting was:

WHOA! Was that a banana skin I just slipped on! or just another sliding
art-institution standard?
URGENT PUBLIC MEETING please pass on to others
Corner of Greenknowe Ave and Elizabeth Bay Rd, Kings Cross
TIME 7:30 to 8:45pm
The Sydney Biennale opened recently, which provided the opportunity for
many artists to meet and a number to recognise in each others misfortunes
the rapidly declining viability of the local, visual art situation here.
While the Howard Government may have commissioned the Myer Report to analyse,
nationally, the extent of artists’ troubles, its recommendations have not
only not at all been felt within the visual arts at the ground level (ie. by
artists), but also little address the pervading ‘dumbness’ (in both senses
of lacking intelligence and a stifled dialogue (lacking speech)) that is
creeping through our major art institutions and throttling an engaging and
internationally recognisable contemporary visual culture here. Sydney is
quickly becoming the black hole of the Australian contemporary art scene,
the place where contemporary visual artists get swallowed up and disappear:
their work unacknowledged, its potential wasted. Need this be so?

If you feel like some dangerous discussion, please join us at this informal
meeting to rekindle a much needed dialogue and to work out ways to kick-start
a re-engaged, contemporary visual culture in Sydney. At least
come along and sign our petition.*

* A petition will be present that calls for a standard artists’ fee of no
less than $2,000 per individual exhibition and a pro rata payment no less
than $500 for group exhibitions to be adopted by all publicly funded, visual
art institutions, nationally.

KELLY AT sydneyartseensociety@yahoo.com

The Sydney Art Seen Society has been formed as an urgent redress of the
current decline of standards in the professional environment of contemporary
visual art in Sydney, where the production of visual culture is being more
and more determined by art-institutional programmes rather than these
programmes being determined by the art. By facilitating a meeting place for
artists to discuss, debate and discern solutions to the prevalent issues
hindering progressive visual art here at present, the Sydney Art Seen
Society aims to stimulate the development of a more vigourous and potent
contemporary visual culture in Sydney, based on the vital and critical
practice of visual artists.