Visual artists in the UK are regularly expected to develop and exhibit their work without a fee. We don’t think this is right.
The Paying Artists campaign aims to secure payment for artists who exhibit in publicly-funded galleries. We believe paying artists for the work they do will mean that, in years to come, we’ll still be able to access quality art which reflects the broadest possible spectrum of human experience. Whether you’re an artist, curator, gallery visitor, art student, policy maker or run a gallery, sign up to the campaign.
Shaped by artists through a-n and its artist advisory council, Paying Artists responds to the needs and aspirations of a-n’s 19,000 visual artist members across the UK, supported by evidential research reports to show the impact on artists of poor payment practice. There is currently no agreed guidance or framework for exhibition fees to artists.
Our research indicates that, both in the existing economic climate and in the longer term, fewer and fewer artists will be able to sustain their practice. If there are fewer artists, the UK will lose the diversity and innovation that is fundamental to its visual arts scene, and the corresponding tourism benefits and the £1.9 billion investment that visual arts brings to the UK economy. Government and public funders have a responsibility to promote and encourage diversity in our visual arts output. If artists are not paid the pool of talent will diminish. Over time, the pipeline of great art will dry up and eventually art will only be made by artists that can afford to work for little or no pay.
Ensuring artists are paid will ensure the public continues to see art work that is drawn from and reflects the whole of our society.
Artists should be remunerated for exhibiting in publicly-funded spaces
Since Paying Artists was launched in May 2014, discussion and debate on artists pay has gained momentum across the visual arts sector (both in the UK and internationally). Paying Artists has gathered significant support and achieved successes, but there is much to still to do to ensure the long term benefits of the campaign are realised. Our revised campaign goals set out what still needs to happen:
- Initiate a national review of the value and impact of the visual arts’ contribution to society and culture in the UK
A significant, strategic, national review of the contribution our visual artists make to society and culture is urgently needed. This will provide visual artists with relevant, tangible evidence to empower them to confidently and clearly make their case for fair payment. It will demonstrate to commissioners and funders (public and private) the role and contribution of artists to a successful and diverse visual arts market and it will inform educators and encourage future generations of artists in their career choice.
- Develop national policy and guidelines on minimum standards of artists’ pay including exhibition fees, supported by funding agreements from arts councils
Arts Council England has led the way in writing pay policy requirements into funding agreements with its National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) – an exhibition fees framework and guidance is in consultation but has yet to be adopted. Creative Scotland and the Arts Council of Wales currently only support ‘fair pay’ in funding guidelines. By implementing fair pay policies that reflect transparency and fairness English NPOs will demonstrate best practice to the wider visual arts sector and directly support Arts Council England’s strategic goals by fostering excellence and increasing resilience in the arts, ensuring diversity in the arts workforce and supporting accessibility of the arts for all. This should be replicated nationally.
- Transparent policies, guidelines and minimum standards for exhibition fees adopted by all
Many galleries in the UK do pay their artists fairly, but all galleries should develop transparent policies that demonstrate fair and acceptable negotiation and recognition of the artists’ roles in their own success.Paying Artists will encourage positive collaboration with the sector (artists, galleries, funders) to achieve these objectives, and continue to raise public awareness of the issue of fair pay for artists through targeted media and regional campaigning.
Founded in 1980 a-n is now the UK’s largest visual arts membership body – a dynamic network of 19,000 artists and creative freelancers working across a diverse range of practices. Our mission is to stimulate and support contemporary visual arts practice and affirm the value of artists in society. The professional needs and artistic aspirations of a-n’s artist members (AIR) impact directly on the campaign, support and research we deliver and lead to developments in arts and cultural policy, arts education and social change.
Since 2004 we have published guidance on fees and day rates for visual artists, alongside The Code of Practice for the Visual Arts, contracts, fees toolkits and ongoing research into artists’ practices and livelihoods.
In 2012/13 a-n and AIR surveyed UK artists to find out their experiences of remuneration from publicly-funded galleries and their overall income levels. The resulting evidence was the foundation of this substantial campaign to improve the way artists are valued and remunerated for their unique contribution to public galleries and exhibitions. While it was necessary to focus the campaign around publicly funded galleries, through highlighting the importance of the issue in the sector it is anticipated that the solutions found can be applied across the visual arts.