Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Of Interest to Canadian Artists

CARFAC Ontario

CARFAC Ontario is the association of professional visual and media artists. Founded in 1968, CARFAC (Canadian Artists' Representation/le Front des artistes canadiens) has worked for 40 years on the legal and economic issues facing visual artists. We believe that artists, like professionals in other fields, should be paid for their work and share equitably in profits from their art practice. The work of CARFAC Ontario is to develop policies, publications and services that assist artists, galleries, curators, art patrons, and other stakeholders in creating an economic climate that benefits all visual artists.
Artists take the National Gallery to the Supreme Court

The fight for the payment of artists at the National Gallery of Canada will be going to the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Photo Opportunity: Visual artists from across Canada will be attending the hearing and available for photographs outside the Supreme Court at 8:30 am on Wednesday, May 14th.

Interviews: Artist and negotiating committee co-chair, Karl Beveridge, will be in attendance and available for interviews in English.

Karl Beveridge lives and works in Toronto. He has collaborated with various community organizations in the production of his staged photographic work over the past 40 years. He has been a member of CARFAC since 1969.

His work has been exhibited across Canada and internationally in art galleries and museums. Recently his work has been included in exhibitions at the Pingyao International Photography Festival, Pingyao, China, the Noorderlicht Photofestival, Groningen, Holland and Manif d'art 7 in Quebec City. His work is in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, as well as other major galleries.

Karl has been active in several labour arts initiatives including the Mayworks Festival in Toronto and the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in Hamilton, Ontario. He received the Ontario Federation of Labour's Cultural award in 1997, an Honourary Doctorate from OCAD University in 2010, the Cesar Chavez Black Eagle Cultural Award from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Canada, in 2011 and the Prix de mérite artistique from the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2013.


For the last 11 years, the organizations that represent visual artists, CARFAC & RAAV, have been trying to negotiate standards for the payment of artists at the National Gallery that would be binding - similar to a minimum wage. In 2007, the gallery suddenly refused to negotiate these fees; they argue that artists have the right to be paid less if they choose.

The gallery was initially found guilty of bargaining in bad faith but this was overturned in a split decision by the Federal Court of Appeal in March 2013.

Half of visual artists in Canada earn less than $8000/year. Most artists want to have their work in the National Gallery, and there is a lot of pressure to give away their rights. Setting binding minimum fees would relieve that pressure and ensure that all artists who work with the National Gallery are treated fairly. Artists would still be free to negotiate higher rates.

Artists of all disciplines are watching this case with interest as it could have an impact on other agreements signed between artist associations and federal institutions in Canada such as those of the Writer’s Guild of Canada and the Canadian Screenwriters Collection Society. Both groups will be acting as interveners at the hearing.