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Getting Paid Again – by Robert Genn

Getting Paid Again
by Robert Genn

Once more, some of our Canadian artists are lobbying for ARR. The idea behind Artist Resale Rights is that artists receive a small commission from subsequent public sales of their work through auction houses or commercial galleries. While some artists are beating the drum to get in on the post-gravy gravy, others see it as contrary to the entrepreneurial spirit and the investment side of the art game. So far the ARR kite is not flying in Canada. The chances of it flying in the USA right now are thinner than last century's rice paper.

Today, 59 countries worldwide have legislated ARR, including the European Union. Initially, dealers and auctioneers in Europe were concerned about the impact of the ARR on the art market. An independent study in the UK found that 87% of the art market remained unaffected financially. In most countries, the kickback to artists ranges from 2 to 5 percent of the resale price. Despite the banking and sovereign debt crisis in the EU, auction art by living artists is up again this year.

In Canada, the national association of visual artists (CARFAC) has requested that government adds ARR to our Copyright Act. If such a thing were to happen, government is the last outfit you'd want to run it. An independent non-profit might work.

My attitude has been that collectors stick their necks out by buying your work in the first place, and ought to enjoy the full benefit of their shrewdness.

Others obviously think differently. I'm figuring that currently there are about 70 living Canadian artists (me included) whose work is on the block at major auctions. Some of it will sell for considerably more than what was originally paid. In discussing the situation with some of my more feisty friends, we found ourselves looking deeply into a can of worms. Is anyone going to be truthful? Are only the artists who register going to participate in the plan? What about artists living in the bush who have never heard of ARR? What about the resale of work that has gone through several owners? Will a secretive, underground art market begin to thrive? Will sellers offer re-sales in other markets where there is no ARR? What about the widows and widowers?

Best regards,


PS:"Five percent seems very little to ask when you consider that the artist, through his or her efforts over many years, is largely responsible for the increased value of their work." (Joe Fafard, Canadian sculptor)

Esoterica: A royalty cheque is a prime mover in, for example, the music industry. Non-profits in Canada (SOCAN), and the US (ASCAP and BMI), make considerable effort to keep track of songs with radio and TV play, live performance, advertising usage, etc. Cheques are mailed to registered artists four times a year. Some songs reward only dribbles; others, made viral by widespread covering or energetic touring, turn into pots of honey. Justice seems to be done when the songsmiths are the honey-bears, rather than all that good stuff going to a few weasels.

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post from his twice-weekly newsletter. For more of his artistic insights, visit his blog at www.painterspost.com.

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