Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Pennies Per Peek," Canadian Concept of Artist remuneration

It's always interesting to see how other countries/ galleries conduct business with artists.

This from Canadian Artist, Robert Genn

For the next couple of months I have a retrospective exhibition
in a public gallery. Something that surprised me was that the
gallery issued me a cheque for $2065.50. (This was just about
enough to pay for three stretch Hummers to take our friends to
and from the opening--something we ended up not doing. But I
digress.) Known as an exhibitor's fee, this payment has been in
effect here in Canada for some years. The fee is based on
guidelines provided by CARFAC, an overseeing, non-governmental
body that looks out for artists' interests. The actual size of
the exhibitor's fee is based on the annual operating budget of
the public gallery. Thus, the fee paid by a gallery with a
budget of less than a million dollars is smaller than one with
a budget of over five million. In fact, the amount that a
gallery might pay an exhibitor is discretionary. Some public
galleries, I'm told, don't pay artists at all--others pay more
than the guidelines suggest.

I rather thought that payment might be based on a formula that
included show duration, number of works shown, traffic
achieved, whether or not there's an entry fee, and other
factors. In any case, it's "pennies per peek," and this, to a
guy who has always lived by selling work, has to be an
interesting way to get green feedback. While I would have done
a show like this without remuneration, I also know that there
are many artists whose work is not collected or even
collectable, and who could well use the exhibitor's fee as a
source of income. In many ways the system is a breath of fresh
air. With the advent of "pay per view" and all the
micro-billing that's going on these days--why not
"micro-paying"? While my particular show is free to the public,
the idea of galleries charging an entry fee and sharing the box
office with the artist--as many a musician does--may have legs.

Several years ago I was on the board of a regional theatre. It
seemed that every meeting consisted of dreaming up new ways to
get "bums on seats." In a way, this is what fine artists also
require. "Eyes on pics," is a similar quest--whether the
artists have shock, scenery, sophistry or sales on their minds.
(Try saying that quickly.) It's nice to have a prestigious
venue such as a public gallery, but it may not always be
necessary. As everyone knows, I'm an advocate of the Internet
as the "Greater World Gallery." It's hardly prestigious. One
day it too could be "pennies per peek." Maybe artists could
make a living from it.

PS: "Since 1968 and approximately every two years, CARFAC has
issued exhibition fee schedules that were developed from rates
established by painters Jack Chambers and Tony Urquhart.
Updated through negotiation and usage, they reflect increases
in the cost of living. All fees are considered minimum payments
for the use of the copyrights and/or the professional services
of visual/media artists." (CARFAC statement)

Esoterica: The CARFAC guidelines are divided into a number of
types of exhibitions that public galleries (categorized by
annual budget sizes from 1 to 11) might hold. An example: "For
retrospectives, or solo exhibitions that feature more than ten
years of an artist's production, the rate is the listed solo
rate plus 25% for galleries in the major size categories
(9-11). For galleries in the medium categories (5-8) the rate
is the solo rate plus 15%; for galleries in the standard
categories (1-4), the rate is the standard rate plus 10%."

Rreprinted with permission from
Robert Genn-The Painter's Keys

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