At the end of 2012, Visual Artists Ireland undertook a survey of visual artists who are actively exhibiting and supporting visual arts programming through support services.
The initial results of the survey revealed that out of 580 exhibition opportunities covered in the survey, 79.66% provided no fee to the artist for their participation. Further figures indicated that production costs were not met in many cases, and in a large percentage (43.3%) of cases, artists were asked to either pay or contribute to the administration costs of their exhibitions. 77.8% of artists received no fee for education or outreach programmes. Of these 31.9% received a contribution towards travel expenses for these events.
The situation of artists being expected to exhibit and provide education and other support services for free is not a new one. However, to date it has been anecdotal. This survey revealed the endemic reality. This comes about through a wide range of reasoning. We see the primary cause is the low level of funding being made available to the cultural sector with a heightened expectation about the scale and broad range of delivery, and a lack of clarity in the terms and conditions of funding.
It is important for us to note that the campaign wishes to acknowledge those who do pay artists, and also that there may be situations in which an artist wishes to support a gallery, festival or event and waive their fee. It is also important that we are clear that this campaign is not a witch hunt with a name and shame policy. It is clear in our objectives that we are looking for professional organizations to pay professional artists in an equitable manner, and that there is a clearly advertised policy that this is in place. We are also looking to ensure that funding budgets set by government and by the funding agencies are in keeping with such policies.
The project will deliver a set of payment guidelines. The guidelines will be based upon international best practice, and will be scalable for different sizes of organizations as well as the experience/reputation of artists. They will also take into consideration the different work undertaken by artists within the context of exhibitions and supporting services.
The purpose of this document is to outline the specifics around types of payments for artists, the outline of the current campaign for artist payments, and supply information and support material that will be of use to supporters wishing to advertise and participate in changing this inequitable situation.
- Funding increase to cultural programming to support Arts Council, Arts Council Northern Ireland, Local Authority, and Borough funded spaces.
- Funding applications assessments to include clearly defined expectations regarding equitable payments to visual artists to support the planning, delivery, and supports required for exhibitions.
- Guidelines for payment rates for visual artists.
- Contractual obligations by all parties to be set in place at the beginning of each project that outline expectations of all parties and payment schedules for work completed.
- Payments to be made in full in a timely manner.
Types of payments to artists this recommendation covers:
- Loan fees – work already existing, currently owned and loaned by the artist for a curated solo or group exhibition;
- Production fees – for new work in a solo or group exhibition, in addition to production costs;
- Production costs;
- Installation fees;
- Artists’ talks;
- Workshops given by artists;
- Screening License fees;
- Copyright fees;
- Travel expenses;
- Paid Residencies.
Detailed Survey Results
“It is a good opportunity for you to have your work seen”
Recent findings from Visual Artists Ireland’s survey on payments for visual artists show the direct results of the cutting of public funding for the arts.
“Visual arts venues are unable to pay visual artists properly, and with further cuts the situation is only going to get worse.” Noel Kelly, CEO of Visual Artists Ireland.
“It is a good opportunity for you to have your work seen”
“We aren’t in a position to give you a fee but we would like to show your work”
“We can offer you a token gesture”
These types of statements have become more and more familiar as artists are approached to show their work in exhibition spaces. They have become clichés, and with them is an expectation of understanding about the plight that venues find themselves in. This is not a new phenomenon but, in recent years the payment of artists for their contribution to the national exhibition programme has sharply decreased.
With this decrease, Visual Artists Ireland has seen an increase in the number of artists contacting us with stories of being expected to deliver exhibitions and other events such as talks and education programmes either for free or with just their travel expenses covered. It is obvious that this mode of practice is not only inequitable but also fails to recognise the professionalism of visual artists. It has lead to an increase in the number of artists living under the poverty line, or seeking to create new lives either outside of Ireland, or outside of the visual arts sector as a whole.
In October, November, and December 2012 Visual Artists Ireland undertook a survey to look at the reality of artists being paid for work and exhibitions. In total 147 artists who are actively exhibiting completed the survey. The survey took into consideration exhibitions and work in Ireland both in publically funded not for profit spaces as well as the commercial sector.
Not for Profit Sector
In terms of exhibitions in the not for profit sector, this equated to 781 exhibition opportunities realised. We use this term as different artists may have appeared in the same exhibition. The survey asked artists to give details of the exhibition fee that they received from their top five shows in the year.
A total of 580 exhibition opportunities were captured in the artists’ top five exhibitions. 79.66% of these provided no fee to the artist for their participation. Further figures indicated that production costs were not met in many cases, and in a large percentage (43.3%) of cases, artists were asked to either pay or contribute to the administration costs of their exhibitions.
Only 29% of the exhibitions provided for installation costs, 77.8% of artists received no fee for education or outreach programmes. Of these 31.9% received a contribution towards travel expenses for these events.
These figures speak for themselves. To give the artists’ own perspectives we are also including some case studies at the bottom of this document, with comments directly from the artist involved.
The financial reality of exhibition spaces and visual artists needs to be taken into consideration, especially in comparison to the state funding received by other art forms.
Visual Artists Ireland also asks that urgent attention is given to the level of funding being made available for exhibition production in publically funded spaces and the provision of payment rates for artists.
We also ask that spaces in receipt of public funding are required to show meaningful payments for artists who contribute to their programme, and that this payment should be guided by the contribution of the visual artist as the key member of each exhibition team. This form of analysis needs to be fed back to central government for consideration as they allocate funds during the budgetary process.
Levels of Payments
In setting the level for payments, we see a case for the creation of a national scale. It is not adequate to take this figure as a proportion of programming budget. To take different situations into consideration, the national scale could be prepared as a percentage of the overall turnover of the institutions involved, and that it is proportional to the contribution of the artist to the programme.
In addition, there is a need for recognised daily rates for production and creative time costs, with further exhibition fee and education/outreach fees being set based on a similar recognised national scale.
Artist 1: Age group 55 – 64, with a job to subsidise their work as an artist, with studio rent, heat, and electricity costs of between 250 and 299 Euro per month had 4 solo exhibitions and 6 group exhibition in 2011/1012. Out of these, 3 of the solo exhibitions had no artist’s fee, and 1 provided 500 Euro. Out of the 6 group exhibitions (6+ artists in show) one offered a fee of 700 Euro. No production costs were paid, but the galleries covered the administration costs. 1 show was in an Arts Council and Local Authority funded space, 1 exhibition was in a Non-Artists Space, and 8 were in Arts Council only funded spaces. The maximum fee of 700 Euro was received from an Arts Council only funded space. Installation costs were fully funded, but no venue offered travel expenses, nor took into consideration the production time required to prepare for the exhibitions. They received an extra fee for a speaking engagement, but this also had to cover travel and subsistence expenses.
Exhibition Income: 1200 Euro for 2011/2012
Artist Comments: “Leaving the payment of artists’ fees to the discretion of the Arts Council funded organisations does not and will not work. Fixed fees should be set, agreed nationally and Arts Council funded organisations should be told by the Arts Council that their ongoing funding is dependent on them budgeting for and paying agreed fixed artists’ fees. If they don’t budget for and pay artists fees their funding should be withdrawn. Nothing else will work. The time of relying on good will is over; it patently doesn’t work. Artists need to be paid adequately for their labour and the use of their work. This is an urgent issue. We need VAI to negotiate fees as a matter of urgency with the Arts Council. As the major state funding body of all not for profit organisations the Arts Council is the only body with the capacity to put pressure on the funded organisations and deal with this problem for once and for all. Leaving it up to the organisations to behave fairly and professionally towards artists won’t work. Artists will just continue to be exploited. Thank you for doing the survey. Much appreciated.” Other comments have been deleted as this would compromise the anonymity of the artist involved.
Artist 2: Age Group 35 – 44, with a job to subsidise their work as an artist, with part time access to a studio, studio rent of between 100 and 149 Euro per month had 1 solo exhibition and 8 group exhibitions in 2011/1012. The solo exhibition had a fee of 1000 Euro Out of the 8 group exhibitions one offered a fee of 200 Euro. No production costs were paid. Some galleries covered the administration costs but some were paid for out of the artist’s own pocket.
2 shows were in Arts Council and Local Authority funded spaces, 2 exhibitions were in Arts Council only funded spaces, 1 was in a Local Authority only funded space, 1 was in an art space that receives no public subsidy, and 2 were in Independent Artists run spaces. The maximum fee of 1000 Euro was received from an Arts Council only funded space, with a fee of 200 from a Local Authority only funded space. No other spaces provided fees. Installation costs were fully funded in an Arts Council only funded space, the others either partially covered these costs or expected the artist to cover in full. One Arts Council only funded venue offered travel expenses. Venues with other forms of funding didn’t cover these costs. None took into consideration the production time required to prepare for the exhibitions. They received no extra fee for speaking engagements.
Exhibition Income: 1200 Euro for 2011/2012
Artist Comments: “In all cases, I have had to borrow money in order to fully realise the exhibition and always end up using the artists fee (if any !) to purchase materials needed for the installation.”
Artist 3: Age Group 45 – 54, full time professional artist, with part time access to a studio, studio rent of approximately 50 Euro per month had 3 group exhibitions in 2011/1012. They were not paid for any exhibition. Some production costs were paid, and in all cases administration costs were covered.
1 show was in an Arts Council and Local Authority funded spaces, and 1 exhibition was in a non-publically funded spaces. Installation costs were fully funded in both space, but only the non-publically funded space travel expenses. They received an extra fee for speaking engagements as well as travel and subsistence.
Exhibition Income: 0 Euro for 2011/2012
Artist Comments: “I have willingly exhibited without fees in emerging spaces (those with no or little public funding) as the situation was made clear from beginning. Spaces that have established funding, even in time of cutbacks, should assign (even small) fees from their budget. Clarity of information about all aspects of the “exchange” between artist and gallery are of great importance. Unfortunately this often revealed only when a problem arises, with assumptions a main cause.”
Artist 4: Age Group 22 – 34, part time professional artist support practice with other work, with no specific studio space or set up works from home, had 3 solo exhibitions, and 8 group exhibitions in 2011/1012. They were paid for 150 Euro for one of the group exhibitions. Some production costs were paid, and they were asked to contribute to the administration costs through their own money and money received through an Arts Council grant.
3 shows were in Arts Council and Local Authority funded spaces, 2 were in Arts Council only funded spaces, 2 were in local authority funded spaces, 4 were self organised group exhibitions. Installation costs were not funded in the Arts Council funded space, partially covered in the Arts Council and local authority run space, and fully covered in the independent artist run space. Only the Local authority funded space covered travel expenses. They received a fee for speaking engagements, including travel expenses.
Exhibition Income: 150 Euro for 2011/2012
Artist Comments: “Making my work and exhibiting it forces me to go into debt. I wouldn’t mind breaking even, then I would be very happy. I don’t necessarily want to make a profit from my art practice. But running up debt is making it extremely difficult for me to survive.”
147 artists completed the survey. 132 had exhibitions in not for profit spaces during 2011/2012. 49 are full time artists; 79 have other jobs or partners or depend on the social protection system to support them as they pursue their practice; and 2 were full time students.
|22 to 34||
|35 to 44||
|45 to 54||
|55 to 64||
The 132 artists equated to 839 exhibition opportunities realised during the period, 742 of which took place in not for profit spaces. These broke down as follows:
|Solo Exhibition(s)||134 Exhibitions||
|Exhibition(s) with 2 – 5 artists||183 Exhibitions||
|Exhibition(s) with 6+ artists||522 Exhibitions||
In terms of the not for profit sector: these exhibitions took place in the following types of exhibition space:
|Not for Profit – Arts Council & Local Authority Funded||335 Exhibitions|
|Not for Profit – Arts Council Funded||113 Exhibitions|
|Not for Profit – Local Authority Funded||64 Exhibitions|
|Not for Profit – No public funding||58 Exhibitions|
|Self Organised Artists’ Group||118 Exhibitions|
|Independent Non-Artists Space||44 Exhibitions|
A total of 580 exhibition opportunities were captured in the artists’ top five exhibitions
Solo Shows: Artists received (Out of Top 5 Exhibitions):
82 out of 132 Artists answered this question.
1: Solo Shows: Artists received (Out of Top 5 Exhibitions):
Small Group (2 – 5 Artist) (Out of Top 5 Exhibitions)
71 out of 132 Artists answered this question.
2 Small Group (2 – 5 Artist) (Out of Top 5 Exhibitions)
Large Group ( 6+ Artists (Out of Top 5 Exhibitions)
97 out of 134 Artists answered this question.
3 Large Group ( 6+ Artists (Out of Top 5 Exhibitions)
Production Costs Covered
128 artists answered this question
4 Production Costs were paid for by the exhibition
Administration costs, including: invigilation, installation, invitations, preview costs
127 artists answered this question
|Some paid for with own money||
|Some paid for using an Arts Council Grant||
|Some paid for with own money and an Arts Council Grant||
5 Gallery cover all administration costs
Who paid for installation costs?
|fully covered by institution||Partially
|not covered.||no installation expenses.|
|Not for Profit – Arts Council & Local Authority Funded||40.4% (38)||18.08% (17)||18.08% (17)||23.4% (22)|
|Not for Profit – Arts Council Funded||31.8% (14)||9.1% (4)||22.7% (10)||36.4% (16)|
|Not for Profit – Local Authority Funded||38.5% (15)||15.4% (6)||17.9% (7)||33.3% (13)|
|Not for Profit – No public funding||28.3% (13)||6.5% (3)||28.3% (13)||39.1% (18)|
|Self Organised Artists’ Group||16.1% (10)||22.6% (14)||25.8% (16)||35.5% (22)|
|Independent Non-Artists Space||14.3% (5)||11.4% (4)||34.3% (12)||40.0% (14)|
|29% (95)||15% (48)||23% (75)||33% (105)|
6 for installation costs
Travel Expenses Covered
|Not for Profit – Arts Council & Local Authority Funded||32.6% (31)||71.6% (68)|
|Not for Profit – Arts Council Funded||28.3% (13)||71.7% (33)|
|Not for Profit – Local Authority Funded||22.5% (9)||77.5% (31)|
|Not for Profit – No public funding||18.0% (9)||82.0% (41)|
|Self Organised Artists’ Group||3.3% (2)||96.7% (58)|
|Independent Non-Artists Space||5.4% (2)||94.6% (35)|
7 Travel Expenses
Did your fees take into consideration the amount of time taken to create work for the exhibition?
|Not for Profit – Arts Council & Local Authority Funded||8.9% (8)||91.1% (82)|
|Not for Profit – Arts Council Funded||2.2% (1)||97.8% (44)|
|Not for Profit – Local Authority Funded||4.8% (2)||95.2% (40)|
|Not for Profit – No public funding||6.5% (3)||93.5% (43)|
|Self Organised Artists’ Group||1.8% (1)||98.2% (54)|
|Independent Non-Artists Space||2.9% (1)||97.1% (34)|
8 time taken to create work for the exhibition
Education and other supporting events
Additional money for speaking or education programmes surrounding their exhibition? This is specifically for a speaking engagement and outside of exhibition fee.
9 Additional money for speaking or education
Additional to travel expenses, including research time and effort?
10 Additional to travel expenses, including research time and effort
We asked artists if they had a studio. The findings were:
|Studio in their home||
|Rent a studio outside of their home||
|Part time access to a studio||
|Use their home (not specifically set up as a studio space)||
|€300+ per month||5.4%||6|
|€300+ per month – including light, heat and other utilities||3.6%||4|
|€250 – €299 per month||1.8%||2|
|€250 – €299 per month – including light, heat and other utilities||2.7%||3|
|€200 – €249 per month||5.4%||6|
|€200 – €249 per month – including light, heat and other utilities||8%||9|
|€150 – €199 per month||4.5%||5|
|€150 – €199 per month – including light, heat and other utilities||4.5%||5|
|€100 – €149 per month||6.3%||7|
|€100 – €149 per month – including light, heat and other utilities||8.9%||10|
|€50 – €99 per month||1.8%||2|
|€50 – €99 per month – including light, heat and other utilities||8%||9|
|Less than €50 per month||0.9%||1|
|Less than €50 per month – including light, heat and other utilities||6.3%||7|
12 Studio Rents
For a full advocacy pack, including letter templates to the Ministers, Local Authorities, and Borough Councils please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Arts Council Presentation – Payments (subject to VAI copyright, may not be reproduced)