In 2018, CARFAC celebrates our 50th anniversary. For over five decades, it is important to remember that thousands of artists have committed their time and energy, working together from coast to coast, and beyond. As our founder Jack Chambers once said, CARFAC “appeals to the ‘doers’, to the people who try to create the conditions they want to live and work in.” This is what we’ve been doing this year.
Our job has always been to defend the artist’s right to representation and fair payment. This began with the creation of our Fee Schedule, which has evolved over time. For over ten years, we have had a voluntary agreement on exhibition royalties with museums and artist-run centres, and two years ago we began a consultation to evaluate our media arts fees. In 2018, we introduced a new fee category for larger museums, and this year, as we continue to revise our media arts fees, we have begun two new consultations: to evaluate our fees for performance art and to assist independent curators in developing their own payment guidelines.
The Status of the Artist Act allowed us to negotiate our first collective agreement with the National Gallery of Canada in 2015, alongside our colleagues at RAAV. From January to March, we returned to the bargaining table, and in May, visual artists from across Canada voted to approve a new agreement with the Gallery. The new agreement is in place until 2022, and it includes several notable increases in royalties and fees paid to artists, as well as changes to the collective agreement that makes managing it easier for all parties.
Leading up to the negotiation, we received mentorship from Canadian Actors Equity Association (CAEA). Our staff were able to job shadow with CAEA staff last September, while Arden Ryshpan conducted a workshop on negotiation for our board and staff in December, and observed our negotiation with NGC in January. CAEA very helpfully shared internal policies and procedures for managing collective agreements and training new bargaining committee members, which will help CARFAC to develop an internal policy manual.
We are also actively involved in advocacy work and sharing policy proposals that improve artists’ working conditions. Last summer, we submitted recommendations on the Federal Budget, and participated in the Canadian Arts Coalition’s Arts Day on the Hill. Earlier this year, we began hearing stories from artists that have recently been reviewed, reassessed, and even audited by the Canada Revenue Agency. In May, we released a statement on the issue, and we have been working with an Artist Taxation subcommittee of the Canadian Arts Coalition on this issue. We prepared a briefing note for the committee here.
As the Federal Government has begun its statutory review of the Copyright Act, we have been involved in this process in several ways. In October, we are scheduled to present to the standing committee, and our brief, which will include recommendations on the implementation of the Artist’s Resale Right, the expansion of the Exhibition Right to include works made before 1988, and changes to Fair Dealing, will be available shortly. We have been advocating for the ARR, in particular, for many years, and over the last two years we attended meetings in Geneva and New York, where countries gathered to examine the ARR in an international context. While legislative change takes time, we are hopeful that we may have success with this campaign soon.
In 1990, we founded a copyright collective, CARCC, now known as Copyright Visual Arts, and we are working on several joint projects with them. We’ve been working on an online licensing and fee calculation tool for artists and presenters, which will hopefully launch in the fall. We will also co-host a series of copyright presentations, offering a comprehensive overview of copyright for visual artists and the services that collectives provide. We are also about to work with Copyright Visual Arts and other stakeholder groups to develop an Indigenous Intellectual Property Resource Guide. The aim of the Guide is to educate artists, presenters, and the public about the basics of copyright, Traditional Knowledge, issues of authenticity, cultural appropriation, and respecting cultural protocols.
We have always been an association of artists working for artists. Together, the boards of CARFAC National and our regional affiliates involve approximately 100 elected artists. We are committed to offering the most representative board possible, and we are working on developing a new nominations policy for our organization. We have a small office of full- and part-time staff who are committed to promoting and articulating the interests and concerns of professional artists: April Britski (Executive Director), Renuka Bauri (Director of Advocacy and Communications), Charlie Laghi-Ford (Membership Coordinator), Rose Ekins (Licensing Officer at Copyright Visual Arts).
We are committed to offering tools to help artists thrive creatively and financially. In 2017, we presented workshops, seminars, podcasts, webinars, and PSA/radio shows for Visual Artists in communities across Canada on the theme of “Building your Career”. This included several presentations in Edmonton last June during our annual meeting, some of which are now available as a podcast. Our 2018 national conference is planned for Ottawa from September 7 to 9. We are grateful to have the opportunity to gather on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people, and we pay our respects to all First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples for their valuable past and present contributions to this land. This year’s event will include a review of our milestones over the years and a conversation about our new priorities, which considers developments in copyright and taxation policy, fair payment guidelines in the visual arts and other disciplines, and the mechanisms and the politics of policy change in the arts in an international context. We hope to see you there!
In closing, it must be acknowledged that our work in the last year would not have been possible without support from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Access Copyright Foundation, Employment and Social Development Canada, Assurart, AFBS, CHRC, RAAV, Copyright Visual Arts, and of course, our members, who continually allow us to uphold our strength as a collective voice.
Submitted by April Britski, National Executive Director, CARFAC