Arts Council of Wales | New Fair Payment Guidelines for Artists Announced
Back to all news

New Fair Payment Guidelines for Artists Announced

Today, Wednesday 12 October 2016, a-n The Artist Information Company, the UK’s largest membership organisation representing 20,000 professional visual artists, launches guidelines for paying artists for their contribution to public exhibitions. 12 Oct 2016

New Fair Payment Guidelines for Artists Announced

Despite the visual arts contributing £2.3 billion gross value added to the UK economy each year and employing more than 37,000 people – 71% of artists had not received a fee for their contributions to publicly-funded exhibitions and 63% had to turn down exhibition offers from publicly-funded galleries because they couldn’t afford to work for nothing.

The first time there’s been such a major collaborative approach, this launch represents a significant marker in the evolution of the visual arts sector and a vital step in ensuring the sustainability of the arts ecology in England, Scotland and Wales for decades to come.

a-n and its artists advisory group, AIR, has spent more than two years working and consulting with artists, major public funders and visual arts organisations, big and small, to come up with a solution: a set of suggested payments (ranging from £150 to £6,000) to cover a wide range of exhibition scenarios and guidance for implementation.

With widespread support from the 2000 artists, curators and funders consulted by a-n, the publication of this guidance will enable the sector to address and support the principle of fair exhibition payment in practice.

There are two contrasting popular perceptions about artists working in the visual arts field – firstly they are starving to create their art and secondly that they sell their work for mystifyingly high sums. Reality, as ever, is a lot more complex. It is also undoubtedly true that the arts are an important part of how we define ourselves and our culture. There are over 150 publicly funded galleries in England, Scotland and Wales but until now there has been no widely agreed guidance as to how much artists should be paid for creating the work shown within their changing exhibitions programme.

Whether it is blockbuster exhibitions in major arts venues or a group show in a small, local gallery, it is the artists who are the ‘content providers’ and the exhibition spaces would not function without them. A simple analogy is that cinemas aren’t cinemas without film-makers and iPods are just decorative boxes without musicians.

Jeanie Scott, Executive Director of a-n: "At a time when the annual income for the vast majority of visual artists is lower than the national living wage, it’s critical we [a-n] actively pursue solutions for non- or low-payment for our members. But this guidance is about more than just ensuring artists are fairly paid. It’s about recognising

the significant contribution they make to our material lives, and to the broad economic success the sector enjoys. Artists are the essential component! If we don’t invest in them individually, we’ll be in danger of losing the diversity, invention and vigour the visual arts are known for as they simply won’t be able to afford to make work."

Joseph Young, Secretary of AIR Council: "The new Exhibition Payment Guide will mean substantial change for artists when it is embedded across the entire sector as best practice. a-n and AIR will work with our 20,000 members to support this, and we’ll establish a new Paying Artists Working Group to work closely with national sector experts to extend and deepen our guidance over the course of the next five years."

Other nations have already tackled exhibition payment, but this is the first fully collaborative approach to artists’ payments bringing together representatives from all corners of the sector to input to the solution.

Amanda Catto, Head of Visual Artists at Creative Scotland: "Creative Scotland welcomes this guidance which supports the wider ambition of our recently published Arts Strategy, to improve the financial context in which artists and other creative professionals develop and make their work.

"These guidelines present a step forward in creating better conditions for artists making work for public exhibitions. We will continue to work with a-n and other partners to promote this guidance and its adoption by publicly funded galleries across Scotland."

Noel Kelly, Chief Executive Officer, Visual Artists Ireland: "Visual Artists Ireland would like to congratulate Jeanie Scott and her team at a-n on the delivery of this important step for visual artists in England, Scotland, and Wales. As we see on a daily basis the expectation on visual artists to work for free is growing as cultural budgets are cut and funding becomes more and more competitive.

"These guidelines will benefit both artists and organisations as a key tool in preparing budgets and acknowledge that artists are professionals who must be remunerated as a key aspect of exhibition delivery. We, Visual Artists Ireland, look forward to working with a-n into the future as they seek to embed this as a standard practice as we have done in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland."

David Alston, Arts Director with Arts Council of Wales: "Arts Council of Wales sees this as a very important milestone and has been pleased to be a collaborator with a-n and to work with our fellow Arts Councils in the nations and regions. We want to see best practice through the organisations we support, and want to play our part in influencing more broadly how other organisations and commissioners recognise the services of

professional visual and applied artists. We saw the contribution of individual artists as the bedrock of our Inspire strategy, and a-n’s work here dovetails into our current work on supporting creative professionals."

Peter Heslip, Director, Visual Arts and Brighton, Arts Council England: "Arts Council England is committed to ensuring that those who work in the arts and cultural sector are properly paid. Artists and practitioners working for activity funded by the Arts Council should be paid in line with codes of practice set by the relevant lead bodies. We support the development of this guidance and new framework. We will continue signposting to this new material and working with funded exhibitors to implement it over our next funding period."

Registered Charity Number 1034245