Paying Artists aims to secure payment for artists who exhibit in publicly-funded galleries

The money problem: Artists’ pay needs to be talked about more openly

The third event in Artquest’s System Failure series, co-organised by a-n and AUE, discussed artists’ low pay and featured Paying Artists Regional Advocate Mark Gubb on the panel. Joseph Young reports.   “Money is the perennial issue,” said director of Artquest Russell Martin in his introduction to the third System Failure event at Block 336 in Brixton. For The money problem: or, how artists could be paid more than £10,000 a year, produced in partnership with a-n and Artists Union England (AUE), he was joined by Paying Artists Regional Advocate Mark Gubb and AUE’s Angela Kennedy. Both panelists offered perspectives on the problem of how (and when) artists get paid. They began by outlining their approaches to campaigning. Gubb referred to the successes and challenges of the Paying Artists campaign while Kennedy promoted the benefits of collective organisation. “(We’ve) got to stand up for each other,” she said, while acknowledging the various roles that different artists’ organisations play. It was acknowledged that a variety of approaches are needed to defend artists’ livelihoods in these difficult times. Gubb read out a rather sobering email from an (unnamed) artist who argued that ‘by paying artists a living wage you are shifting funding from paying lots of artists little to paying a few artists more’, adding that it’s ‘daft to want more money from shrinking capital and increasing demand’. Is this our lot, then? Should we resign ourselves to perpetually low pay? The conversation moved on to how professional development at art school insufficiently prepares students for the realities of making a living as an artist. Gubb described the one day of professional development...

Paying Artists: deliberation and discussion in Birmingham and London

The Paying Artists campaign has kicked off a season of focus groups, with a consultation at Eastside Projects in Birmingham aimed at getting feedback on a draft guidance document, and a talk at Sluice_2015 in London exploring how artist-led organisations can get involved in the campaign. Following months of consultation with the sector, involving over 130 organisations and artist-led projects from across the UK, a-n/AIR has used the findings to inform draft guidance for paying artists when they exhibit in publicly funded galleries. But before we could dot the i’s and cross the t’s on the final draft, we still needed to get feedback from artists and arts organisers, so we consulted with the Paying Artists Regional Advocates and AIR Council during a recent meeting at Eastside Projects in Birmingham. Much of the discussion centred on the complex nature of the issue of fair pay for artists and the many variables involved. The usefulness of a mechanism that artists and organisations could use to help calculate a fee taking into account some of these variables, such as the size of the organisation and whether the work exhibited is a new commission or an existing one, was discussed. The group agreed that because a fee is likely to fall within a pay range, rather than a set figure, the final fee would always need to be negotiated. It also suggested highlighting a-n’s existing resources and developing some new professional development toolkits or workshops to make sure artists are equipped with the skills they need when they have to agree a fair fee for their work. The next phase of the campaign...
Paying Artists Campaign Pack