Live shows for spring 2020 cancelled or postponed.
Tag: artist livelihoods
My article in the spring/summer 2019 edition of Sluice magazine.
The Bank Job, London.
Towards a fair artist residency.
“Everyone’s a winner, baby, that’s the truth.” (
Henrik Ibsen Hot Chocolate). Henrik Ibsen painted by Henrik Olrik, 1879.
From the book Creators: From Chaucer and Dürer to Picasso and Disney, Paul Johnson on the shitty, unfair and callously underappreciated lives of the world’s most undeniably creative people, who bring pleasure, beauty and inspiration to thousands or millions of people… plus Henrik Ibsen’s splendid but bonkers riposte.
“What strikes me, surveying the history of creativity, is how little fertile and productive people often received in the way of honours, money, or anything else. Has there ever been a more accomplished painter than Vermeer – a painter closer to perfection in creating beautiful pictures? How Vermeer must have cared about what he was doing! And how hard and intensely he must have worked to do it! Yet when he died, his widow had to petition the local guild for charity…
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About five years ago when I and a few colleagues started talking about the (mostly really shitty) economics and realpolitik of being an artist who isn’t one of yer Damien Hirsts, Tracey Emins or Turner Prize winner– and aren’t we all glad not to be?– everybody else’s reaction was what the who now? You want to talk about money? Why? Don’t artists just do it for the sake of art? Then hundreds of artists, arts professionals and art lovers turned up to the public discussions we organised on the subject. Now everybody’s talking about it everywhere, all the time, from Facebook groups like Stop Working For Free to art blogs like Hyperallergic. Books are written about it, although none of them are as good as mine. There are campaigns like W.A.G.E. in New York and the UK’s Paying Artists. The more the better because it’s still not enough…
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“Unfortunately we have no budget to pay fees or expenses.”
a-n the artists information company have just published their draft recommendations and guidance on the payments and fees that should be due from publicly funded galleries to artists. FYI I’ve worked on the Paying Artists campaign and I work for a-n sometimes. I also think artists based in the UK should have their own look at it, so I won’t offer too much commentary except to pull out:
NOBODY IS ASKING FOR MUCH
Despite stiff resistance from an insignificant and usually bonkers minority of the public and a significant minority of people who work for public arts organisations, all of whom are baffled or bitter (or both) that an artist should get paid anything… the suggested fees for artists are far from outrageous and usually amount to no more than a few thousand or even a few hundred pounds…
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Discussions of economics and making a living from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (1854):
SELLING AND AVOIDING THE NECESSITY OF SELLING
“Not long since, a strolling Indian went to sell baskets at the house of a well-known lawyer in my neighborhood. “Do you wish to buy any baskets?” he asked. “No, we do not want any,” was the reply. “What!” exclaimed the Indian as he went out the gate, “do you mean to starve us?” Having seen his industrious white neighbors so well off—that the lawyer had only to weave arguments, and, by some magic, wealth and standing followed—he had said to himself: I will go into business; I will weave baskets; it is a thing which I can do. Thinking that when he had made the baskets he would have done his part, and then it would be the white man’s to buy them. He had not discovered that it…
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Via artist Mimei Thompson on the F***book, news of a property developer soon to be bulldozing over a hundred artist studios near Hackney Road in London. They’ll be replaced by a twenty storey tower with “workspace” (whatever that is) and 170 homes including “a number of affordable”. Britain’s cities and towns desperately need more and better housing accessible to everyone regardless of their income, but we all know what the “number” of affordable units will be: as few as possible, probably with a separate door so the poors don’t rub their poor all over the investment/money laundering boxes of all the Chinese, Russian and Arab one percenters who are just about the only people who can buy these places. Affordable is a laughably– and conveniently– ill-defined and slippery developers’ term anyway.
Don’t worry, though, the loss of this artist community (who stupidly, inconveniently brought life to a rundown area…
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Some new research on artists working outside the gallery system has just been published by Axis : Validation Beyond the Gallery. As an artist who has little interest in making objects that can be sold, collected or otherwise institutionalised, as a relative outsider (and Outsider) even among the outlying group of artists who feel the same , and as somebody doing ongoing work related to artists’ livelihoods and pay, there’s some interesting stuff in there. The only caveat I’d add is that the study is by their own description qualitative , i.e. an interpretation of narrative from only 25 participants, so personally I’d be very cautious about forming policy or drawing universal conclusions from such an incredibly small sample of participants.
Having said that, the TLDR version will perhaps be unsurprising to anyone with any experience in the matters under discussion, although evidently it still needs to be said:
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Two posts from other sites about audience entitlement, the apparently growing resentment towards any creative person who dares to try making a living from giving audiences the things they seem to feel they’re entitled to, and the impossible double standards to which artists are being held. They’re referring mainly to US musicians, but virtually all of it applies to writers, visual artists, film makers, etc. anywhere. We’re all in the same boat and we’re all subjected to the same kind of determined attacks at the moment. I strongly encourage you to read both posts in full, but I’ve pulled out a few of the most cogent quotes.
ARTISTS CAN’T SURVIVE AS SAINTS AND MARTYRS
“The American artist is expected to be both a saint and a martyr. Operate outside the capitalist system and we’ll praise you for your creations, call your poverty a quaint kind of martyrdom that has nothing…
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