Paying Artists: a-n and AIR's Exhibition Payment Guide launched

Dan Thompson’s performance in support of his Paying Artists Artist-led Manifesto at the launch of Exhibition Payment: The a-n/AIR Paying Artists Guide on Wednesday 12 October. Photo: Kirstin Sinclair.

Dan Thompson’s performance in support of his Paying Artists Artist-led Manifesto at the launch of Exhibition Payment: The a-n/AIR Paying Artists Guide on Wednesday 12 October. Photo: Kirstin Sinclair.

Following more than two years working and consulting with artists, major public funders and visual arts organisations, a-n and AIR has published new guidelines for paying artists for their contribution to public exhibitions.

“A red letter day in the UK visual arts sector” is how a-n Chair Jayne Knight described the launch of Exhibition Payment: The a-n/AIR Paying Artists Guide – the result of more than two years working and consulting with artists, major public funders and visual arts organisations

The guide outlines a set of suggested payments to artists (ranging from £150 to £6,000) as a fee for their contributions to publicly-funded exhibitions. It covers a wide range of exhibition scenarios along with guidance for implementation.

The guidance is supported by Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland.

Jeanie Scott, a-n’s Executive Director highlighted the four core principles behind Exhibition Payment: transparency, budgeting, negotiation, and written confirmation.

She added that consultations with almost 2,000 individuals and analysis of 166 publicly-funded arts organisations in Scotland, Wales and England had resulted in “a flexible, clear guide and payment framework that will help artists and organisations to agree mutually beneficial payments and agreements”.

The launch of the guide, she said, marks the start of a change in how artists are considered and paid in the sector. “I believe this guidance is going to bring a lot of positive change in the years ahead, and I know this because I can see that we’ve come a long way already.

“We’ve gone from telling galleries ‘you have to pay artists’ to everyone saying ‘yes we agree, let’s do it’ – the conversation about artists’ pay has moved on a lot in the last two years; there’s still a lot to do, but the change has already started.”

The evening opened with a short performance by artist and a-n board member Dan Thompson who read from the Paying Artists Artist-led Manifesto. Created by Thompson especially for the campaign, the manifesto sets out the principles of fair payment for artist-led groups and collectives.

Thompson’s performance was accompanied by a series of events across the UK, with simultaneous readings taking place in Glasgow, Margate, Leeds, Stoke and Swansea.

In her closing remarks, Jayne Knight expressed her pride in how a-n and AIR had worked with the visual arts sector to develop Exhibition Payment.

“Together we have succeeded in creating something which will play a critical role in the future success of the visual arts sector,” she said.

“Without artists there would be no galleries or public programmes. Today we are doing something by promoting diversity and equality, so all artists can make work. And not just those who can afford it.”

“It’s now up to the sector to make this happen. To put the framework and guidance to work to show how we can value both art and artists by implementing Exhibition Payment for artists in the UK.”

The Exhibition Payment: The a-n/AIR Paying Artists Guide along with a new set of quick guides in support of the four core principles of Exhibition Payment and the Paying Artists: Artist-Led Manifesto can be downloaded at www.payingartists.org.uk