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jim collins 03-12-2014 04:06 PM

Should visual artists be paid for exhibitions?
Should visual artists be paid for exhibitions and work both in publicly funded not for profit spaces as well as the commercial sector?

Here is a list of considerations that the VISUAL ARTISTS IRELAND came up with:
1. Production Costs
Materials and labor to be recharged at cost to venue;
2. Installation fees
where the artists is required by the venue to be present for installation;
3. Project Preparation
projects that are commissioned or that are site specific;
4. Project Planning & Meetings
projects that involve extensive meetings and planning sessions with commissioners and specialists, such as but not exclusive to public art commissions and large scale exhibitions;
5. Mileage
this allowance is taken directly from the published civil service rates;
6. Artist’s Talks;
7. Artist’s Workshops;
8. Selection Panels;
9. Interview Panels;
10. Public Art Commission Artist Fees
this is based on a percentage of the overall budget and is calculated on the basis for how much input and work is involved;
11. Artists as Curators
this is based on a percentage of the overall budget and is calculated on the basis for how much input and work is involved. The lower rate is for artists who are simply selecting work, moving progressively to a higher rate as artists may become involved in contract negotiations, shipping arrangements, installation design and support, media management etc;
12. One off “Movie Night” screenings of moving image or “playing” of pre-recorded sound works – based on MPLC fees for 1 -200 Audience;
13. Copyright Fees
to cover continued use of artist copyright materials outside the run of an exhibition or event. This is based on the existing fees covered by IVARO for catalogs; newspapers/magazines; merchandising; and internet.

Chris_Johns 03-13-2014 12:01 PM

Re: Should visual artists be paid for exhibitions?
The most important point is that artists are entitled to be paid for their work just the same as anybody else.

It's also important that not-for-profit and even charitable organisations are still businesses and often the people running them will be paid to do that job.

Ultimately it's up to individual artists to decide whether they either want to donate work to a specific even, either outright or as a loan or if a particular exhibition is a sufficiently worthwhile opportunity to sell work that it justifies waiving any fees.

Andrew Werby 03-13-2014 02:06 PM

Re: Should visual artists be paid for exhibitions?
Yes; when performing artists put on a show, it's generally assumed that they'll get paid for doing it, and audiences will pay to watch. But when visual artists put on a show, they usually have to pay for the privilege. First there are jurying fees - do actors have to pay to audition? Then there are "hanging fees" , and contributions expected from the artists to cover refreshments, publicity, etc. - if it's not a co-op gallery where artists bear all the overhead.

This is justified by the supposition that the artist's work will sell for high prices and cover all costs with a profit left over. But how often does that really happen? People attend art shows in the same spirit they attend a performance; they go, have a good time, see some art, and go home - there's no pressure to purchase anything and hardly anyone does. With much contemporary art taking the form of installations, videos, and similar things that would be difficult to buy even if someone wanted to, this distinction makes little sense any more.

Canada has taken an enlightened position on this matter, and has instituted CARFAC rules that stipulate payment for all artists, visual or performing. I'm not sure that's universally applied, but it seems like a step in the right direction to me.

Andrew Werby

jim collins 03-13-2014 04:17 PM

Re: Should visual artists be paid for exhibitions?
Attached is the original study by the Visual Artists Ireland.
Payment Guidelines for Professional Visual Artists a twenty page report that includes: case studies, guidelines, fees, etc. You can download the complete report of 20 pages at:

Andrew Werby 03-14-2014 03:16 PM

Re: Should visual artists be paid for exhibitions?
Reading that, I feel like I've fallen down the Rabbit Hole - when they talk about "exhibition fees" they mean money that's paid to the artist, not the other way around. That's absolutely unheard-of here in the USA - I've not only never been paid to exhibit my art, but nobody I know has either. It sounds good, though...

Andrew Werby

Robson Valley 03-16-2014 01:52 PM

Re: Should visual artists be paid for exhibitions?
I participate in an annual and local artisans exhibition as a wood carver. They always ask how many tables/plug-ins & chairs I need. Besides display, they ask that we bring work to do. . . . . that's easy.
Over the years, I've dumbed it down to hand work. The mallet and gouge thing is noisy and messy but I've done that, too. 2" x 3" x 3/4" pieces popping off in all directions. I can't drop my tools fast enough to catch a chunk as it comes down.

Then, much to my surprise, the committee comes around and hands out money to each of us for the effort. Maybe that comes about as the exhibition is set up by an "Arts Council." I'd do it for free, I'd stay home if I had to buy a stall in the barn.

Andrew Werby 03-17-2014 02:21 PM

Re: Should visual artists be paid for exhibitions?
Maybe they feel better about paying for your "art in action" demonstrations because it's more like performance art, which is usually compensated while visual art is not.

By the way, no sooner had I written that part about never having been remunerated for participating in an art show, than an invitation came asking me to be in one, offering a $250 honorarium. So I guess one should never give up hope.

Did I mention I've never won the lottery?

Andrew Werby

Harry McDaniel 03-26-2014 02:05 PM

Re: Should visual artists be paid for exhibitions?
While gallery shows in the USA don't usually pay an honorarium, outdoor sculpture loan programs usually DO. The honorariums are typically in the $500-$2,500 range. I like them. :)

Generally, in getting paid as an artist: You get what you settle for, as long as there is enough demand for what you are supplying.

There can be intangible benefits to some low-dollar shows/commissions/sales, but exhibiting for free "for exposure" is usually not very productive.

Chris_Johns 03-26-2014 04:02 PM

Re: Should visual artists be paid for exhibitions?
I generally adopt the approach of costing everything that I do based on a realistic day rate and cash expenses. Based on that I can decide whether a particular 'opportunity' is worthwhile

I may very well donate time, work or materials to something which I feel is a good cause, regardless of any benefit to myself but that is my decision, I'm happy to be asked but I do get annoyed when it is assumed that I should work for free because I'm an artist rather than a lawyer or an accountant.

I also think that individual artists need to think carefully about how well exhibitions fit their style of work. In some way's I find it strange that contemporary art has taken innovation in content almost to the point of absurdity in some cases but there is very little challenge to the idea that on a plinth in a white room is the best place to display it.

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