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% could not provide a fee to the artist for their participation. Published on Mar 1, 2013
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.