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Canadian Museums Association attacks artists’ fees

hearing-pic Ottawa, Thursday, February 16, 2011 – The Canadian Museums Association told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday they would like to see the Exhibition Right “abolished”. Jon Tupper, President of the CMA, also asked to be exempt from paying artist fees for things such as reproductions in catalogues, in slides for public lectures and online.

Canadian museums are the main source of copyright income for visual artists. An amendment proposed by Bill C-32 to open fair dealing to education appears to have been perceived by the museum community as an invitation to stop paying the fees that artists such as Jack Chambers fought so hard for. Although they claim their budgets are too tight, for most public galleries artists’ fees represent a small portion of their budget. When faced with similar arguments back in the 1970’s, artist Tony Urquhart suggested to a Montreal museum director that instead of hosting twenty contemporary exhibits in a year, he host nineteen and use the last budget to pay the artists.

Tupper insisted that museums should not have to pay artists fees for artwork which they own but recognized that more and more museums do not have the funds to purchase artwork. In Ontario alone, 98 percent of art collections are acquired by donation, meaning that visual artists would not receive any payment for these works if the CMA’s recommendations were followed.

“The principle of compensating artists for the public presentation of their work has been enshrined in two Canadian laws for over twenty years,” said CARFAC president Gerald Beaulieu. “Clearly our parliamentarians have supported this notion because it is sound and just public policy.”

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