Paying Artists

Securing a future for visual artists in the UK.

Artists should be paid for what they do.  In many cases they are not.  OK, some of the big names make very large amounts of money from the sale of their work or the commissions their galleries connect them to, but on the whole, the vast majority (the 'others') are either unpaid or extremely badly paid.  However, artists not only have a cultural impact on our society, but a demonstrable financial impact.

The 500,000 visitors to the Hepworth Wakefield, during its first year, contributed an estimated £10 million to the local economy in Wakefield and a recent economic impact of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park estimated its annual contribution to the local economy to be £5 million.  Those are findings from the Local Government Association 2013.

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So why do we undervalue artists?  If you are involved in the visual arts you have probably been in a position where you were offered an exhibition but no fee. 63% of artists have had to turn down requests from galleries to exhibit their work because they cannot afford to do so without pay.  That astounding fact comes for "Paying Artists: Phase 1 Findings, a-n/DHA" and is part of a report on the issue put together by a-n The Artist Information Company.

The UK does seem to be struggling in this area.  In Norway, artists are paid for exhibition of their work, based on the number of artworks shown and the duration of the exhibition. In Canada, artists have a legislatively-enshrined right to compensation for the use of their works in public exhibitions.

There is currently a campaign to improve this situation organised by a-n, their dedicated site has some valuable statistics and information about how you can help.  Sign up for their newsletter for up-to-date information or download the informative research document.  Major artists, institutions and organisations are supporting the campaign to pay artist.  You can help too.

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How Rude are You?

Email Etiquett

Quite frankly, we don’t often think about it as we dash off another rapid reply to clear the email inbox. But how are people perceiving you online when they receive your email messages? How rude are you?

I mention this only because of a recent incident where I received an email from someone which didn’t leave me with a very professional opinion of them. I sent a group message to a list of creatives who are taking part in an event I’m coordinating. It was a simple request to send a 100 word text about themselves to show to people who might like to talk to them at the event.

Within an hour I received a reply with a 100 word text. No greeting, no signature, no niceties, just the text. I left my computer thinking how unfriendly this was. Small-minded of me, I know, and a little ‘picky’ but it did seem rude.

When I came back to think about it a few days later, I realised what an impact this less than professional reply had on my perception of the person who sent it. Someone I don’t know particularly well so can’t guess their frame of mind.

OK, I expect that they were busy, had a lot on their plate and just wanted to get the reply sent to get it off their “to do” list, but the result is that the next time I need to employ someone for a creative event, and there are two similar people who can do the job, I’m going to favour the other one. Life is too short to work with people who appear unprofessional and less than friendly.

So, here are our top 5 tips for email Etiquette when you don’t know the person particularly well. They might just help make sure you are the one who gets considered next time an opportunity comes up. They do seem obvious (very obvious) and simplistic, but there are people out there damaging their reputation by getting it wrong.

  • 1, Always include a greeting (Hi there..., Dear..., Hello...)
  • 2, Always include a parting comment (Thanks again for getting in touch...) and then your name.
  • 3, Don’t type in CAPITALS, it looks like you are shouting. 
See this article on the BBC news website about a New Zealand woman who lost her job after sending e-mails filled with block capitals!
  • 4, Keep it short. Readers are as busy as you and don’t want to read a short story.
  • 5, If you are angry with the person you are emailing - leave it for a day before you send it so you can ‘cool down’. I speak from experience!!

And just in case you need more advice, type “Email Etiquette” into your favourite search engine. There is a great deal of detailed information out there.

Oh - and remember emails are not private - don’t write things that you wouldn’t write on paper!


  • Published in Advice
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