Hey Arts Organisations, I am not Audience — Disrupting the Arts — Medium

Hey Arts Organisations, I am not Audience — Disrupting the Arts — Medium.

The term ‘audience’ is a generalisation. Its like saying ‘this is what Belgians want.’ Just talking about audiences means you are having a misleading conversation.

Here are some groups you should be talking about;

Customers — some people just want to turn up. They might be convinced to do something else afterwards, but right now they want a good day/ night out. All the talk of audiences can miss what they actually want. That is smooth, risk-free and planned experiences to take their friends to.

Fans — some people care about you, or the thing you do. It’s part of who they are, and what they do. So buying a ticket, or reading the website, or retweeting you is not a straightforward consumer transaction. Forget that at your peril.

Super Fans — some customers will buy more than a ticket, they will buy a donation. Whether as a gift for a friend or for themselves, this is donation as experience not as investment. More than that they will even buy things you don’t normally charge for — a chat in the bar with one of your creatives, the set you were going to throw out, the recordings of the early rehearsal.

Collaborators — some fans care enough to want to be part of your future. It might be about money, time or word-of-mouth marketing but they can be the keys to unlocking all kinds of opportunity. Its not about experience for collaborators, its genuinely important to them to be a part of this. There are not that many of these diamonds so make sure you find them as if they are lost in your ‘audience’ you’ll not only kick yourself, but they will end up feeling rejected too.

Surface Arts

Surface Arts

Surface Arts provides opportunities for artists whose work is situated within public spaces, disused sites and everyday places to extend the reach of the work to wider audiences. We aim to facilitate interactions between artists and the public in order to grow new dialogues and relationships for both the artist and the public, creating an environment for critical exposure where artists and the public can engage in a meaningful exchange of art and ideas.

We develop projects, events and curatorial programming for artistic production that is responsive to sites and activities happening there, often involving interactive processes and participation.

The production spaces of artists, performers, writers and curators as sites of valuable visual and intellectual interactions is what we aim to illuminate and cultivate.

It is important to support the artists’ career development by providing chances to liberate the uses of public and disused space to create a play grounds for exploration and different ways of representing art. This gives artists working in these areas a chance to develop and realise site specific, performative, ephemeral or time based works outside of the ‘White Cube’.

Surface Arts is a non-for profit organisation.

Surface Arts.

The Bothy Project » Art Residencies

For 6 months of the year Inshriach Bothy is open for 1-week self-directed artist residencies (01 October to 31 March). For the other 6 months (1 April – 30 September) the bothy is rented to the general public.
The next available 6-month art residency period runs from 1st October 2013 to 31st March 2014.  Bookings for this period will be made available shortly. 

For general public rentals of the bothy during the Inshriach Estate time please see the Canopy and Stars website on our links page (please note income from public rentals goes to Inshriach Estate and not TBP).


The Bothy Project » Art Residencies.

Is Londons free art and culture extravagant – Debate – Time Out London

Freedom of expressionism

Rebecca Taylor asks whether London’s free culture is a luxury in times of economic recession


Is Londons free art and culture extravagant – Debate – Time Out London.

If you happen to be in the Big Apple this autumn and fancy dropping in to the Museum of Modern Art for 15 minutes of Andy Warhol (or, indeed, anyone else in their fantastic collection) it will cost you $25 (£16). At the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto you’ll part with $19.50 (£12.50) to explore their galleries, while a splash of sunflowers at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam will set you back €14 (£11). But in London – uniquely among world cities – entrance to our major art galleries and museums is absolutely and joyfully free.

Since December 1, 2001, Londoners (along with the rest of the UK) have enjoyed free entry to see everything from dinosaur dung at the Science Museum to Titian’s naked nymphs at the National Gallery. Admittedly it’s not exactly free, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport dedicates an annual budget of around £323 million for government-sponsored musems and galleries – so access to that fossilised shit comes out of our taxes. But given that a West End cinema ticket won’t leave you with much change from £15, surely it’s excellent value for money?

‘You can pop in for five minutes to see your favourite work or you and your family can spend five hours,’ says director of the Tate gallery, Nicholas Serota. ‘As a result, we have some of the finest and most popular museums in the world and it makes London a more welcoming place.’

Artist Grayson Perry, whose own works are on display at the Tate, agrees: ‘I recently popped into the British Museum with my daughter. I only wanted to see one painting but if it was £10 I wouldn’t have gone in,’ he says. ‘If you pay, you feel you are on a mission and that you must stay for ages. For an artist it’s a great resource. I recently wanted to look at a design for wrought-iron blinds so I pedalled down to the V&A. If I had to pay, I wouldn’t do that so readily.’

Free entrance has been a huge success for Britain’s museums and galleries. Attendance has more than doubled since the policy was introduced in 2001. Attractions such as the Natural History Museum have received a 187 percent increase in visitors, the V&A a 180 percent increase; visitors to the National Maritime Museum rose by 204 percent; and at the Science Museum by 102 percent, according to figures from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. And it’s good fiscal sense: the economic benefit of the UK’s major museums and galleries is estimated to be £1.5 billion per year.

The knock-on effect of the entrance policy has been to create a climate where free access to art and culture is taken for granted. This summer, I trampolined in the middle of Stonehenge (well, the artist Jeremy Deller’s bouncy-castle version of the landmark, that pitched up on Clapham Common), built a sandcastle of pink, blue and orange on the Southbank Centre’s beach, and watched, entranced, as an opera version of ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’ wound its watery way along the city’s canals as part of the Olympic cultural celebration, the London 2012 Festival. And that’s even before I made it to the Notting Hill Carnival, the London Mela and a highly entertaining puppet show on Hampstead Heath that involved firing a baby (puppet) out of a cannon. Like the cultural equivalent of a five-year-old let loose at the pick ’n’ mix counter, I’ve stuffed my face this summer – and haven’t paid a penny for any of it.

But could this goodie bag of freebies be about to change? Museums, festivals and events all need money – government money. In a recession, when many Londoners are struggling to pay the rent, is subsidised culture a luxury we can still afford? Last year, arts funding dropped for the first time in five years with London taking the biggest hit. Of 206 organisations that received Arts Council money, 49 lost their funding completely (although the figure partly reflects the huge number of arts organisations based here). Others such as the Notting Hill Mas Bands Association, the Almieda Theatre and Riverside Studios saw big cuts.

‘The arts are obviously not as important as health or education but if they are allowed to wither they are hard to revive,’ says Perry, adding that private sponsorship is no substitute for public funding. ‘If you look at theatre on New York’s Broadway the productions are very safe. It has to make money. The great thing about publicly financed art is that artists can take risks.’

But at a time when we’re all feeling a bit grim, maybe we need to find ways to be cheered that don’t involve forking out money. A survey published last year in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that trips to the theatre, concerts, art galleries and museums are linked to better health and wellbeing.

For now, free admission is likely to remain – Chancellor George Osborne pledged to retain it in a speech at the Tate in 2009, and the policy is regarded as a vote-winner. A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said that the government is ‘wholly committed to arts and culture and public funding remains the cornerstone of the arts in this country. We’ve negotiated a remarkably good settlement for the arts given the economic conditions, limiting the cut to the Arts Council’s overall budget to less than 5 percent in real terms.’

But is that good enough? ‘Culture is flourishing. It is our second biggest money-maker,’ says artist Anish Kapoor, pointing to the fact that creative industries are the second-largest sector in London’s economy, contributing a significant 7.3 percent to the UK’s GDP.

‘Government ministers meet with bankers every day of the week, but what on earth are they doing by not engaging with those involved in the arts?’ says Kapoor. ‘It’s time to change attitudes.’

If we needed any greater confirmation of the importance of government support for culture we need only look to the most spectacular success of this summer: the Olympic and Paralympic Games. While £9 billion in taxpayers money paid for an unforgettable summer of sport, it also gave us the thrilling Olympic Opening Ceremony (with its dancing NHS nurses offering their own paen to public funding) and the dramatic Paralympic closing show, as well as more than three months of the eclectic London 2012 Festival. A truly inspiring Olympic legacy should include a commitment to sport, alongside a promise to keep Londoners building those multi-coloured sandcastles.

Artists fees: “The cost of labour must be paid for.” | News | a-n

Artists fees: “The cost of labour must be paid for.” | News | a-n.


Artists’ fees: “The cost of labour must be paid for.”

A speaker from New York’s W.A.G.E. campaign joined Glasgow-based artists this week to talk about the ‘non’ payment of artists’ fees. a-n reports from Glasgow.


NEWS: 20 Sep 2012

  • WAGE logo

It was while listening to the speeches at the launch of a major art festival that Corin Sworn realised something had to be done about the issue of artists’ fees.

A city councillor was talking about the huge economic impact that all this fabulous contemporary art would have – the benefits to the tourist trade, the money that would be spent in the city, the jobs and regeneration it contributed to.

Glasgow-based Canadian Sworn was one of the many artists exhibiting during the three-week festival. But, unlike the hoteliers, restaurateurs, taxi drivers and countless others, getting paid for her work involved a process of negotiation.

Sworn was speaking at a packed event in Glasgow on Tuesday night organised by the Scottish Artists Union (SAU) and Transmission Gallery(previewed here). Fellow artist Charlotte Prodger introduced the evening, explaining that it was prompted by a spate of institutions asking her to show work, but with no mention of a fee: “Silence on this issue just perpetuates the idea that artists are willing to work for free,” she said.

While acknowledging the increasingly difficult funding climate, Prodger stressed that this wasn’t an issue about cuts – it’s much more deep-rooted. Guest speaker Isla Leaver-Yap, a writer and curator, further developed this idea, relating it to the way once-radical ideas around the precarity of labour have become part of a neoliberal agenda: “Precarity of labour appears to be a choice, but actually it is more often imposed,” she said. “Each acceptance [of the idea of working for free] cements it in the culture.”

Leaver-Yap argued that if the issue was to be addressed, there were certain practices, such as artists’ fees being put towards production, which had to stop. She said: “If only the people who can afford not to be paid are making art, then those that can’t, don’t. The true cost of labour must be recognised and paid for.”

W.A.G.E. rage

The main speaker on the night was Lise Soskolne of W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy). She offered an enlightening and entertaining overview of the New York activist group’s campaigns and research. Setting the group’s work in context, she said: “People in New York are just baffled by what we do – it’s like, why should artists get paid?”

Formed in 2008, W.A.G.E. is not a union. It campaigns specifically around the issue of artists’ fees, focusing on not-for-profit galleries and museums. Soskolne showed a W.A.G.E. campaign video that distilled its objectives into succinct slogans, such as ‘Renumeration of cultural value in capital value’; ‘Mutual respect between artist and institution’; and – one for every artist, surely – ‘We demand payment for making the world more interesting’.

Soskolne made reference to filmmaker Hollis Frampton’s famous 1973 letter to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) regarding a retrospective of his work to be shown, in the words of the MOMA curator who contacted him, ‘all for love and honor and no money is included at all…’. Suffice to say, Frampton wanted to be paid.

It was, though, rather more recent information regarding New York’s art scene that proved most shocking. Soskolne talked about the results of a recent survey into artists’ fees, based on the responses of artists. By far the worst offender was Performa, ‘the internationally acclaimed biennial of new visual art performance’.

“Performa were upset by this, which is good – I think you call it naming and shaming in the UK,” said Soskolne. “They got in touch and said they wanted to make a statement. W.A.G.E. responded with, ‘Yeah, let’s meet, we’d like to see your budget.’” They’re still waiting for a reply.

An audience discussion followed the talks. Unfortunately, a-n was unable to stay for this.

More information on W.A.G.E.

More on www.a-n.co.uk

Wage rage – Emily Speed gives an overview of W.A.G.E. activity.

Fees & payments – advocacy, advisory and practical resources including The artist’s fees toolkit.

Code of Practice – draws from the experiences of practising artists and their collaborators to set out the principles that underpin good practice. Now in new flip-page format.

Getting Organised – Artists’ talking blog by Emily Speed advocating better working conditions for artists.