Friday, January 9, 2009


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

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