Honesty and hope from the Glasgow Cultural Hustings for #PayingArtists

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Cultural hustings 1 cultural hustings 2Last weekend’s Cultural Hustings raised some up- front and honest discussion for the Paying Artist Campaign in Glasgow.

The Political Panel, made up of representatives across the various parties all contributed to the current debate, most with a positive and pro-active voice for fair pay amongst artists and their wider sector.

In particular SNP, Green Party and TUSC argued the case for artists to be considered on equal professional rates as other public sector wage levels, with some speakers genuinely shocked to hear that most artists bring in no more than £10,000 a year income.

The Liberal Dem speaker Chris Young came from a personal view point as a theatre practitioner himself, knowing all too well the overly accepted view that artists will work un-paid simply for the ‘opportunity’. Whilst Labour expressed an acknowledgment  of the complexities of payment within the art sector and a responsibility to support guidelines for all involved.

cultural hustings 5 cultural hustings 9 The Conservative speaker warned that artists have been paid unfairly for centuries, with this current dialogue being nothing new, and if artists were to be paid more like salary workers then they would need to consider their roles more like civil servants, and art created would be for the state, and not their own intellectual property. Needless to say there were disagreements within the room to oppose this particular point of view.

It was refreshing to hear actual political approaches which could be transferred to the arts sector to ensure fair pay or at least protect existing pay going forwards, such as Green Party’s policy to stop Universal Credit in its current form, or TUSC’s argument that artists’ trade unions should be at the principal and very start of policy making for the arts sector.

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With the outcome of the election now fully aired, for Glasgow and Scotland at least it looks like SNP hold a strong voice for policy making going forwards, and we are delighted to have SNP and Glasgow Life’s David McDonald on board for supporting the campaign as it develops.

And a special thanks for Pavel and Sean, our Glasgow artists who documented the day’s session with live recording and illustration. Keep an eye out for the illustrations and video on the a-n social media soon!

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Cultural and Political Panel confirmed as we start countdown for Cultural Hustings

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As part of the regional advocate campaign work for A-N and Glasgow, myself, Janie Nicoll and the Scottish Artist Union are delighted to confirm the political and cultural panel who will be attending the event and sharing/ championing their stand point for the A-N Paying Artists Campaign

Political Party:
Our Political Panel will consist of members of each of the main parties, including Moira Crawford (Green Party), Chris Young (Liberal Democrats), Gordon McCaskill (Conservative), Brian Smith (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition) Claire Baker (Shadow Secretary for Culture) and an SNP speaker tbc 

Cultural Party:
Our cultural panel will include Kyla McDonald (Artistic Director of Glasgow Sculpture Studios); Sukaina Kubba (Glasgow School of Art); Dr Emma Flynn (PHD research in how artists make a living in today’s sector) and Janie Nicoll, Glasgow Artist and representative for Scottish Artists Union. 

The event will be recorded by video by artist Pavel Dousek and live illustration by artistSean Mulvenna, with issues shared globally live and on-line via twitter on #PayingArtists by yours truly! 

Its time to wake up, speak up and be heard in Glasgow this Saturday….. 

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NOTES:
Information on the wider national campaign can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMDSDe7YUs0

To help achieve fair and transparent pay for artists sign up to the campaign at http://www.payingartists.org.uk/signup/ 

And have your say via #payingartists and @AIR_artists  and @SCOArtistsUnion

 

Liz Wewiora as regional advocate for Glasgow’s push on #PayingArtists Campaign

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unnamedGlasgow’s half of the Wewiora Projects duo, Liz Wewiora, is currently delivering some regional advocacy work for A-N’s current #PayingArtists Campaign, along with fellow Glasgow artist Janie Nicoll. Focusing on regional promotion and debate in Glasgow there will be a cultural hustings event hosted at Glasgow Sculpture Studios, The Whisky Bond Building (2 Dawson Road, Glasgow, G4 9SS) on Saturday 2nd May, 2-4pm.

The event will host individual speakers from each Political party as well as representatives from local art organisations, graduate artists and PHD researchers looking into the current conditions of how artists are actually making a living.

See https://www.facebook.com/events/550152201793547/ for more info!

From the planning stages of this event and conversations in general, new discussions have already started to emerge and here is what Liz has been discovering…

‘The Current A-N #PayingArtists Campaign is asking to focus specifically on the promotion and transparency around fair pay for exhibiting artists from publicly funded arts organisations in the UK.

This specific look into the publicly funded art sector and their approach, model and rates for exhibiting artists has already roused the interest and debate across Glasgow’s organisations to date. As organisations who are funded by essentially by the public and for the public it seemed like a sensible base to start the conversation but with public money across the arts sector as a whole in a period of cuts and restrictions the conversation around fair pay for artist has already raised a few responses of ‘what about fair pay for those in the art sector’. I think this is something which will pan out further as the campaign itself develops but something which will shift waves of healthy debate and wider fair pay for the cultural sector as a whole (which is no bad thing!).

A-N and Scottish Artist Union have already been able to implement guidelines for artists day rates around participatory / educational work and guidelines around residency programmes which have made a huge positive impact on rates of pay and safety of pay for artists working in these areas. From this however, it has become even more important for more clarity around artists exhibiting fees – both for support of the artists and art organisation alike.

There have been far too many cases of artists exhibiting for ‘expenses only’ or in some cases for nothing at all, and it seems that graduates along with ironically some of the most promising artists who have been offered exhibiting as part of a major festival or art prize are hit the hardest by all too well known argument of ‘well there isn’t an artist fee but this is a really good opportunity for you’. It is all too common that artists are lured into the offer of exhibiting your work in a gallery as a favour to the artist rather an a service, like any other in the public service, which the artist is providing for the gallery.

So it seems clear then that all artists should be paid for exhibiting, and this from the perspective of both artists and art organisations alike, in Glasgow at least, is something they all agree on.

What remains cloudy in terms of its clarity, however, is how you fairly ‘rate’ the work and fee to be paid for each artist. With exhibiting work there are a number of variables which makes it difficult to pin point a fixed wage. What if the show is a group show, what if is it the first solo of their career, what if the work has already been made, what if it is a new commission/ production, what if the work can be sold or toured to other galleries beyond the life of the initial exhibition, and so on! All of these factors can dramatically affect the argued ‘worth’ of the exhibiting work, the associated potential or lack of future finance from the work created (for both artist and art organisation alike). It seems then that any guidelines created will need to consider these variables carefully and with long-term and on-going support to both artist and art organisation to ensure that both individual and publicly funded gallery can ensure a fair approach and more over sustainable approach to paying artists.

It does have to be noted, particularly in the case of recent graduates, and I say this from first hand experience, that sometimes we are happy to showcase work for free. But why? Well – I know because I said yes to exhibiting work in a gallery (yes – it was a publicly funded one) for free, because it was a recent graduate opportunity and something which at the time seemed something of great benefit to me as an opportunity to publicly showcase my work to a new audience so quickly after graduating. A small contribution to materials and posting and packaging was however offered and from the exhibition I was able to sell two prints of my work – in fact creating some income off the back of the show after all. However let’s be clear here that this is not always going to be the case, sometimes no expense are even offered and there is never any guarantee that work will be sold after a public showcase so for artists we run a risky business in taking that chance.

As long as artists continue to say yes to exhibiting for nothing then the longer art organisations will see it as justifiable, especially for recent graduates.

Guidelines definitely need to be in place, and I for one am excited to see A-N and its supporting partners and art organisations across the UK work together to create these – for everyones benefit!

You can find out more and have your say for fair and transparent pay for artists by signing up to the campaign at  http://www.payingartists.org.uk/signup/

Or have your say via #payingartists and @AIR_artists