So you’ve heard me call for it before (and mentioned here and here) – a union of artists. To ensure fair pay and fair practices. So that we quit underselling ourselves. So that institutions realize the full value of the work that an artist puts into creating the finished piece (whatever form that might take).
Evan Roth recently posted his thoughts on attending sxsw as an unpaid participant, someone else (i can’t remember) reposted it and commented on it as well. It’s the same discussion I have with artists time after time, everyone else is getting paid, why not the artists? (Although some curator friends of mine often do work for free as well – which is equally as crazy). If everyone from the prepator, to the pr person, to the admin, to the cleaning crew, to the printing press is getting paid for the work they do to make a show happen – why aren’t the artists getting paid?
I even believe that if someone wants to include your work in a show without the intention of selling it (even if it is documentation of a work – i.e. a dvd or photos), you, as the artist should be paid. It still cost you money (probably a lot of it) to produce the work, document the work etc. Why should private donors & funders help pay for work and then institutions get to build their business off showcasing that work.
So maybe it is time for an artist union. There are some other really interesting people thinking about it too. The hurdle is getting widespread acceptance, and I think to do that we have to get institutional support as well (a promise from galleries or museums to only represent members of the union).
I was looking at the history of the Screen Actor’s Guild for inspiration (it seems a similar trajectory) and indeed, the big turn happened when producer’s supported the actors.
So, what are your thoughts?