Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 – Three auctions held in the last five days have resulted in $1,962,602 in sales of artwork by 35 living Canadian artists. Many people profited from these sales – everyone except the artists. The Canadian and Quebec associations of visual artists (CARFAC & RAAV) have requested that government address this discrepancy by adding the Artist’s Resale Right to the Canadian Copyright Act as has been done in 59 other countries. If Canada had an Artist’s Resale Right of 5% the artists would have received a combined total of $98,031.
Two pieces by Penticton artist Daphne Odjig sold at Heffel last Thursday. Pow Wow Singers sold for $26,325 and The Embrace $29,250. If Canada had the Artist’s Resale Right of 5% she would have received $2,779. Four pieces by Saskatchewan artist Joe Fafard were sold including The Inventor on His Invention which fetched $48,000 more than three times the price Fafard received for it in 1989. Fafard would have received $3,982 in resale royalties. Two pieces by Toronto artist Michael Snow were also sold at Heffel. Walking Woman sold for $52,650 and Sideways sold for $175,500. If Canada had the Artist’s Resale Right he would have received $11,408.
Two additional auctions of Inuit artwork have also been held in November with several impressive results achieved. For example, a print by Cape Dorset artist Kenojuak Ashevak, Dog Sees the Spirits sold for $22,420 at Walker’s. The estimated sales price was $6,000. Similarly, her stonecut print The Return of the Sun sold for $7,200 at Waddington’s. If Canada had the Artist’s Resale Right, Ms. Ashevak would have received $1,481. In both instances, it is likely that she initially sold the work for less than what she should receive as a 5% royalty today.
“[The Artist’s Resale Right] is a wonderful way for artists to benefit from their hard work and dedication to, in many cases, their life’s work,” said Daphne Odjig. “In my case it was not until later in life that I have achieved a semblance of success, and at 92 yrs of age and surviving on a small pension and returns on dwindling investments it would definitely have been helpful to have had a small stream of extra income.”
The Artist Resale Right (ARR) would entitle artists to receive 5% from subsequent public sales of their work through auction houses and commercial galleries. It is common for visual art to appreciate in value over time, as the reputation of the artist grows.
CARFAC and RAAV continue to meet with members of Parliament in an effort to have the Artist’s Resale Right added to the Copyright Act. We have met with nearly all the members of the committee that will be examining Bill C-11 and have meetings scheduled with the few we have not yet met. The reception continues to be positive but we are still waiting for a commitment on the part of the government. While the bill was initially expected to be passed before the holidays, there have been delays which may give us until February to keep making our case. If you would like to meet with your MP you can find more information about the Cross Canada Visual Arts Advocacy Network on our website.