Since the launch of Building a clearer relationship between artists and galleries our Draft Exhibition Fees Framework in January, we have been out and about testing it with the sector.

Conversations are taking place with exhibiting organisations across the UK, including museums membership bodies and other public bodies, whilst a series of artist focus groups are being held up and down the country.

This testing phase aims to get feedback on all aspects of the draft from its usability and feasibility, down to its form of presentation. The findings and sector recommendations will inform the final version of the framework due out this summer.

Interviews and conversations with galleries and the museum sector are being conducted by Carolyn Black, who is collecting responses and collating them for analysis. She commented “I’m in listening mode and what I’m hearing is a very positive response, as well as suggestions on how to consolidate the framework into a really useful benchmarking tool”.

The artist focus groups are being organised by 5 Paying Artists Regional Advocates; Janie Nicoll (Scottish Artists Union) in Glasgow, Nia Metcalf (Spit & Sawdust) in Cardiff, Alistair Gentry in Cambridge, Lena Nix (Space Studios) in London and Charlotte Gregory (The Newbridge Project) in Newcastle.

These Regional Advocates have invited locally-based artists, particularly those involved in artist-led activity, to participate in the sessions. We have asked them to undertake some testing of the Draft Exhibition Fees Framework alongside some of our existing resources to inform the conversations. These include a-n’s Guidance on Fees and Day Rates and the Artist Fees Toolkit – the latter of which is proving of particular use for artists to gain an understanding of all their cost considerations.

The artists are asked to use the draft framework to work out how it would have impacted on their own income over a years’ worth of exhibitions as well as how their artist-led projects would have been affected. The discussions also aim to establish consensus on other broader issues around pay, such as under what circumstances it is ok for artists to work for free or whether or not it’s a good idea for artists to be transparent about their own pay policies, like the artist Jessica Hische.

Paying Artist Project Manager Julie McCalden who is leading the sessions with artists said “the conversations so far have been very informative. On the whole, the artist-led sphere already has excellent practices and intentions when it comes to paying artists – and it’s not hard to understand why. However, it is not always possible to implement these due to the lack of funding available. Our final framework will reflect these difficulties and offer principles, guidance and best practice advice for Paying Artists in an artist-led context”.

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Photo: L-R Alistair Gentry, David Kefford, Sarah Evans, Annabel Dover and Alex Pearl meet at Aid & Abet’s ELAN space to discuss the Paying Artists draft Exhibition Fees Framework