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Artists take the National Gallery to the Supreme Court

The fight for the payment of artists at the National Gallery of Canada will be going to the Supreme Court of Canada.

For the last 11 years, the organizations that represent visual artists, CARFAC & RAAV, have been trying to negotiate standards for the payment of artists at the National Gallery that would be binding – similar to a minimum wage. In 2007, the gallery suddenly refused to negotiate mandatory minimum fees; they argue that artists have the right to be paid less if they choose.

The gallery was initially found guilty of bargaining in bad faith but this was overturned in a split
decision by the Federal Court of Appeal in March. Today, the Supreme Court approved our request for leave to appeal. Artists of all disciplines welcome this news, as it has an impact on all agreements signed between artist associations and federal institutions in Canada.

“We’re happy to have a chance to make our case for the fair payment of artists to the highest court in Canada,” said Karl Beveridge, co-chair of the artists’ negotiation committee.

Last summer, contributions from our members and supporters raised an impressive $15,000 for this fight. Without this money, we would not have been able to stand up in court and say that artists deserve more.

For this next important step, we will need your help again.

Your donation of $25, $50 or whatever you can afford will help us make it clear to the gallery that artists not only have legal rights – but we are prepared to defend them. All donations of more than $10 will receive a tax receipt.

Please make a contribution to the fight for minimum artist’s fees.


Half of visual artists in Canada earn less than $8000/year. Most artists want to have their work in the National Gallery – and there is a lot of pressure to give away their rights. Setting binding minimum fees would relieve that pressure and ensure that all artists who work with the National Gallery are treated fairly. Artists would still be free to negotiate higher
rates. Details on this case can be found here.

Photo: detsang