Monday, October 18, 2010



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

WAGE meeting notes 1/22/09

Reading of Hollis Frampton letter
Intro by A.L., reaction to Eflux, international response
Define for the group that this is a pro-worker and pro-capitalist group:
About artists getting paid for their work
This is not a convoluted cause
Response to why WAGE is important now, NYFA
Comp ad offered by Artscape
Steiner reads letters from various international groups, i.d. Scottish Artist Union, France, Poland

• Creating an accessible document of standard fees for talks

Contact writer’s union
Have we written letters to these museums?

4 goals for this meeting:
• Institutional outreach crew / letter
• Wheatpasting crew
• Organized survey monkey crew
• Webmaster crew / publicity
• Research crew
-public library may have a membership to guidestock
artist foundation and master of Massachusetts (talk w/ person)

-announce who we are in a letter of collaboration and openness, make it friendly
NEEDED, press release and letter (anna blume)

-last congressional session they have been trying to change copyright law, museums and libraries trying to take away your copyright protection- copyright and intellectual property illustrators partnership of America, museums say they can’t find the copyright and they want to be able to sell it, either you find the rights of use, create a thing called orphan search, legally ingringe the work, create a derivative work and still be able to use it if you come forward- getty could compete with you
-undercut visual rights act, related to antiquities black market

ECONOMY: a great time

b/c of recession there is added pressure to create more programming and it becomes prohibitive b/c of conflicting pressures

VLA, we have spoke with a few
Bring someone in to speak on copyright issues and whatnot

Galleries are not paying artists

Have been researching artists during the depression which is part fo the general relief of the depression, the new new deal and obama’s budget, there is an increase for national endowment for the arts, there is a moment in the great depression and there was relief for artists, in terms of the moment right now that’s a window of opportunity

The consignment for fine art law, where is someone consigns the work it is held in trust- changed the law on a state level- attorney general’s artist

Business report model;

Chloe: if systems are crumbling, there are gaps to rebuild and work with institutions that have a shitload of money, work with housing for artists where they are knocking on the outside- there are amazing global institutions that have to be very creative in social entrepenuial ways

Matt: guideline for best practices signed by us and other institutions


Suggestion that when committees are formed they are flexible

Survey monkey to get anonymous information

Narrowed down to visual and performance artists and independent curators

Art worker’s coaltion, did they have a survey?
Figure out something
Let’s go into standards and practices and dealers and why is it 50/50\
Survey- ask about types of institutions, there are books- renee brooks
Ask how much did you spend on the survey???

Minnesota from artist count- get 06 data b/4 business data
If you take an artist

The artist pension scheme- a ponzi scheme

Business model- seems dated of what it means to get paid
What is our leverage? Best practices model, a baby first step

Rachel: one tier is the donor ear, a level of development, you don’t want to go over someone’s head- go for the donors

Not only focus on what they are not doing for us, focus on other ways they can help us to pay us.

Put link to emergency funding
Foundation for contemporary arts . org

Monday, March 16, 2009

Albee speaks out; Artists lose jobs at fast and furious rate

"At present, 90% of the money given to the NEA does not go to creative artists -- it goes to institutions and buildings; a kind of "Edifice Complex." Maybe 10% of it goes to the people who do the work that fills these buildings. This is a preposterous distortion of values. Not only should 90% of the money go to creative artists who, if need be, would be perfectly happy to work outdoors, but it should be creative artists who are making the choices as to which creative artists should be given these awards.

I have testified several times before congressional committees in Washington -- especially during my membership on the board of the New York State Council on the Arts -- and I have been continually shocked at the suspicion and hostility displayed by some members of the Congress to makers of the creative act. Maybe if they were writers, composers and visual artists themselves, things would be better."

-Edward Albee, LA Times, Mar 01, 2009

here's the link:

And here's a link about artists losing jobs at higher rates:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009


W.A.G.E. would like to clarify that no further offer was made to Mr. Villanes, depsite his request for negotiations.

El Museo del Barrio
1230 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029

Greetings to all.

This present open letter pertains to my withdrawal from the retrospective exhibition "Arte =/ Vida ("Art is Not Life"): Actions by Artists of the Americas, 1960-2000".

Regarding the final closing details in the exhibition of "Arte =/ Vida" of which I participated without pay, El Museo del Barrio approached me to extend the loan of my work, to be used as part of a traveling version of the exhibit that would be shown in various world museums.

I requested a monetary payment of $5,000 for my participation in each one of the future exhibitions of "Arte =/ Vida". El Museo del Barrio did not accept my offer, indicating that, to pay me, they would have to pay also the rest of the 117 artists and participating groups for each of the 5 exhibitions, which was outside of their economic scope:

"It is clearly acceptable to ask if there is a fee, particularly for one-person projects, but you must realize that in large group shows, requests such as yours, multiplied by the number of artists and then venues, would make such an exhibition impossible to mount in the first place" (cited from Ms. Deborah Cullen, Director of Curatorial Programs, in an email to Eduardo Villanes, dated on January 13, 2008).

The calculations of what El Museo del Barrio would have to pay in total, contracting $25,000 to each of the 117 artists and participating groups, to lend their work for 5 exhibitions, would be $3,000,000.

El Museo del Barrio is currently squandering nearly ten times that total-- $28,000,000-- for "an exciting renovation project to update our galleries and museum shop, and add a cafe, among other amenities" (cited from

An art museum requires a physical space and a team of professionals specialized in exhibiting works of art. The work of the artist is the reason an art museum exists. The fiscal capital of a museum is chiefly generated by the use and/or exhibition of artists' labor. The paid contribution of museum professionals (curators, educators, administrators, etc.) is expressly contingent precisely upon this cultural capital generated by artists.

Artists have the right to the financial gain produced via the use of their works--- not the owners of the lucrative businesses of engineering and construction contracted as part of the "exciting project" to expand and improve the physical and visual space of the museum itself.

The officials of El Museo del Barrio, acting as the spokespersons of the building contractors, have an opposing response. This sounds strikingly similar to the threat of layoffs that the Peruvian workers in my native country receive, when they demand, for their labor, restitution that is rightfully theirs:

"Absolutely no artists in this project are receiving any payment for lending their works. Unfortunately, your request means that you will have to be withdrawn from the exhibit" (from Ms. Deborah Cullen, Director of Curatorial Programs, in an email to Eduardo Villanes on January 13, 2008).

Ms. Deborah Cullen, you receive a salary and a budget for the completion of each one of your professional projects. I ask you: Who, exactly, is responsible for creating this financial capital that supplies your income?

Para el artista, Arte ≠ Vida
Para El Museo del Barrio, Arte = $$$
Eduardo Villanes

Friday, January 9, 2009

POST YOUR STORIES (click comments)


First Meeting – Judson Memorial Church
December 11 2008

Open Call

Meant to be generative – rhizomatic structure
No central nucleus.


Recession affects the nature of the project. There may be more prescient issues at hand now as institutions themselves are struggling with budgets, but this means it is even more imperative to fight for artists’ wages.

This moment of crisis is also one of possibility for changes within infrastructure; the best time for activism and organization.

(Wo)manifesto – available online

New York centered – reverberations elsewhere

CARFAC as a model

CARFAC was established by artists in 1968 and has been recognized by the Status of the Artist legislation. CARFAC is guided by an active Board, elected by the membership.

We believe that artists, like professionals in other fields, should be paid for their work and share equitably in profits from their work. As the national voice of Canada’s professional visual artists, CARFAC defends artists’ economic and legal rights and educates the public on fair dealing with artists. In doing so, CARFAC promotes a socio-economic climate conducive to the production of visual arts. CARFAC engages actively in advocacy, lobbying, research and public education on behalf of artists in Canada.

Not a perfect model. Canada has a different social/ economic structure to the U.S. and a much smaller art scene than NYC so it’s hard to compare or draw parallels as to how that system could work here.

Artist Fees

How do other art professionals negotiate payment on the resale of their work. Record Industry? Royalties.

In auction there is no percentage paid to the artist off the resale of the work. There is also no payment in the U.S. for use of images in billboards and magazines used to advertise exhibitions at museums/ institutions.

Siegelaub Contract
Hans Haacke only artist that received royalties on a re-sale for the work “On Social Grease”, 1975 (NY Times article When Artists Seek Royalties on their Resales, By Roberta Smith, Published: May 31, 1987

Films- No screening fees
Copyright issues.

Cultural Capital

Payment is often rendered as cultural capital – with the promise or investment in success later, which is only afforded to a select few.

cultural vs. monetary capital

Why Are Artists Poor?: The Exceptional Economy of the Arts
By Hans Abbing

Don’t think we should get paid.
Don’t know how to get paid.
People tell us we shouldn’t be paid.

Assume Vivid Astro Focus
Letter from
Eli Sudbrack
High-profile. Still doesn’t make money.
In debt with gallery. Had to leave NYC because
he couldn’t afford to live/ work here.


The more money an institution has, the less they are willing to give. Look at institutional budgets.

Some institutions do have artist fees. How do we ask for wages and fees?
NYSCA funded institutions have artist fees written in.

Industry best practices – taking from the environmental movement. Thumbs up/ down to institutions

What about small non-profits that are struggling to stay open or even pay themselves?

Difference between for-profit and non-profit.


Need for legislation/ unionizing. Obama plans to make it easier to unionize. Negotiate a base rate/ minimum wage. Is this really something we would want?

How do we represent ourselves? Better at documenting and updating our practice than galleries who take 50% commission.

Taxes – artists can only claim material value while collectors can claim full market value.


Capitalist rather than Socialist project.
How do we reconcile our complicity within a capitalist market economy?
What are the dangers of equating artist with laborer?
How do we account for our own agency within this system?


History of artists’ activism
Collectives -information sharing
Guerilla Girls, Art Workers Coalition
Press – Boycotts
Bottom Up vs. Top-Down
Pressure- invite heads of museums that would feel forced to attend meetings.
Database- post annual reports (earmarked funds)
Institutional Transparency Committee - Doug Ashford
Long-Term Legislation Committee