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Recommended practices for paying artists during the COVID-19 crisis

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Force Majeure – it’s a standard clause we often see in contracts, which aims to provide clarity for anticipating the unforeseen. Fortunately, we rarely need to give this much thought. But what happens when a pandemic or natural disaster forces institutions to close on a national, or even global scale, as is the case with the COVID-19 crisis?

Many artists are at different stages of negotiation in their agreements with presenters. Some have signed contracts while others have verbal or more informal agreements in place. In either circumstance, presenters should honour their agreements with artists. We encourage presenters to support artists to the best of their abilities, and to consider the financial pressures many self-employed artists are currently facing as much as possible during this time. We urge presenters to consider compensating artists for additional labour that may be involved if they are asked to change the format of their exhibition, screening, presentation, etc. We also recommend that presenters keep their websites and social media channels up-to-date with information about their programming, as circumstances change and evolve.

The arts community has faced unprecedented challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, not knowing when we may all return to showing our work in public spaces. During this uncertainty, we know most presenters are committed to the principle of fairness in their relationships with freelance artists, designers, curators, and others. Some have developed their own internal practices regarding payment for cancelled or delayed contracts, in light of recent events, but they are not always consistent from one organization to another. We recognize and appreciate that the Media Arts Network of Ontario (MANO) and the Media Arts Alliance (IMAA) have issued a Statement of Solidarity, which fosters a community of mutual support and respect, and we welcome all opportunities to work in partnership with presenting organizations as the situation evolves.

With this in mind, CARFAC, RAAV, and Copyright Visual Arts developed Recommended practices for paying artists during the COVID-19 crisis, which were designed to help the visual and media arts community establish standard procedures for paying artists for cancelled opportunities and new online engagements. We are available to answer questions to the best of our abilities from artists and presenters, as we all contend with unexpected situations related to COVID-19. Please stay connected for updates, as these guidelines continue to evolve. We continue to add to these guidelines, and new recommendations are found below. We cannot cover every possible scenario, so we encourage artists and presenters to contact us with your questions. These guidelines respond to the circumstances of COVID-19, and we remain open to discussion with artists and presenters to further develop these rates.

What do these guidelines cover?

Visual and media artists have economic rights protected in the Copyright Act, which are payable as royalties. Often known as “artist fees”, payment for the use of an artist’s copyright is, in fact, a royalty. This includes payments for the use of an artist’s work in an exhibition, reproduction, or other digital uses. These royalties may be paid directly to the artist, or through a copyright collective or film/video distributor. If an artist is a recipient of CERB, these royalties may therefore be earned on top of the allowable $1,000 without affecting the artist’s CERB eligibility.

Do artists’ royalties count as employment or self-employment income with respect to the CERB?

Professional services fees for presentations, workshops, writing, etc. are not royalties. It is compensation for an artist’s time and labour only, and they only pertain to work carried out by an artist, as an artist.  It does not include work that an artist may do as an arts administrator or teaching at an institution, for example. We do not set rates for other cultural workers, such as curators and designers. Other payment guidelines may exist for those roles from organizations such as the Graphic Designers of Canada or the Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators, or they may be negotiated on an individual basis.

If an artist was scheduled to give an artist talk, give a workshop, participate on a panel, write text to accompany their work, etc

If an artist has been asked to provide professional services which have been interrupted by venue closures, every effort should be made to offer an online version of their presentation, workshop or written text. They should be paid at a rate agreed to in their contract, such as those found under Artist Professional Services Fees in the CARFAC-RAAV Minimum Recommended Fee Schedule. If the artist requires assistance because of the change in format (ie: software or equipment purchases), the host venue should cover those costs, as well as providing additional payment if more time is required to adapt a workshop or lecture for online presentation. Technical support may also need to be provided.

If a presenting institution is closed with artwork installed

We encourage presenters to pay in accordance with an existing contract as planned. Artists should be paid without delay for exhibitions that have already opened or were about to open. If the presenter is facing challenges to pay immediately, they should develop a payment timeline in accordance with the terms of the contract, or in conversation with the artist.

We also encourage presenters to consider the creation of an online version of a temporary exhibition, in full or in part, in consultation with the artist(s) or rightsholder. If the rightsholder is a member of a copyright collective, such as Copyright Visual Arts, please contact them to re-issue a license to include online exhibition.

If there is no additional work to be done by the artist to put the exhibit online, additional royalties may not be payable to the artist in this circumstance. However, if the presenter requires the artist to provide preparation work for the online exhibition, artists should be compensated additionally for that work, in consultation with the artist or their copyright collective.

If a presenting institution wishes to extend the dates of an installed exhibition that was forced to close early

Presenters may ask artists to extend their exhibition beyond the contracted dates. This must be done in consultation with the exhibiting artist(s) to ensure that they agree, and that their artwork is available for the new dates. Due to the unique circumstances of this global pandemic, exhibition licenses that have been paid may be extended at no additional charge, if agreed to by the artist.

If an artist has a contract or agreement for a future exhibition, screening, or festival, but production is not complete or has not yet begun

We encourage artists and presenters to discuss and plan for alternative programming, including online formats, in accordance with the CARFAC-RAAV Minimum Recommended Fee Schedule, or in consultation with CARFAC, RAAV, or Copyright Visual Arts.

We also recommend that institutions postpone rather than cancel engagements. While circumstances are uncertain and schedules will change, we encourage presenters to fulfill future commitments to artists, especially if the program was planned for the short-term (ie: within the year). If the artist has incurred expenses related to the production of the project, they should be compensated, in consultation with the artist.

Digital reproductions of artworks

The CARFAC-RAAV Minimum Recommended Fee Schedule provides guidelines for the reproduction of works online. This currently includes rates for moving images and fixed images (including websites, social media, and mobile apps) on the internet; digital publications such as e-Catalogues, e-magazines, and e-books; and digital media for public and private use. These rates apply to reproductions related to temporary exhibitions, screenings, or festivals, as well as works from museum permanent collections and other archival materials. Discounted rates are offered for non-profit organizations, non-commercial uses, and/or for reproductions associated with exhibitions or screenings where royalties are paid.

Payment guidelines for digital exhibitions, screenings, and presentations*

*Note: The following rates are for the year 2020, and will increase by 2% annually after that. All rates are considered recommended minimum payments, but as they have been developed quickly in order to respond to an urgent need, we recommend them in the spirit of collaboration and respect. Copyright collectives, such as Copyright Visual Arts may request higher royalties for their affiliated artists.

We recommend the following guidelines for digital presentations:

1. Rates for a virtual exhibition or digital screening

An exhibition or screening that exists only online, in a non-commercial context. This may include, but is not limited to, a dedicated section of the presenter’s website where several works are presented with curatorial or didactic texts, production of a catalogue, supported through a communications/promotional campaign, etc.

The artist(s) should receive the regular applicable royalty for exhibitions. For film, video, or audio art screenings, it may make sense to use A.1.1, A.1.3, or A.1.9, depending on the context of the presentation, or the presenter. Further guidance may be developed in consultation with IMAA.

If the artist(s) is asked to provide extra content, such as writing new text, or if the artist(s) is also asked to give a talk online about this exhibition or their work, consult rates for presentations in Section 4 of the Fee Schedule. Additional royalties may be payable if the exhibition includes fully immersive, 3D, or virtual reality components.

Rates for reproductions of images in an electronic or print publication are found in Sections 2 and 3 of the CARFAC-RAAV Minimum Recommended Fee Schedule.

Example: Gallery A is a Category I artist-run centre that has created a dedicated section of their website to present a new solo exhibition. Reproductions of 20 artworks are presented along with an artist statement, curatorial text, and a 20 minute video where the curator interviews the artist about their work. The artist is paid a minimum of $2,077 for the online exhibition, as well as $316 for participating in the video, and $0.50 – $1.00/word for writing the artist statement. If applicable, additional fees for curatorial work are to be negotiated separately with the curator.

2. Rates for a virtual visit/tour of a temporary exhibition

A temporary exhibition (normally one which is publicly available, in some form, for up to three months) is installed, and the curator (or other gallery staff) walks through the show and talks about the work on display, which is presented as a video online – either in a live or pre-recorded presentation.

The artist(s) should receive the applicable royalty for the exhibition, and no additional payment is required for the video, unless agreed to between the artist and the presenter. This includes sharing the video as part of their official programming on their website and/or social media accounts, and informal ‘sharing’ via personal social media channels.

If the same exhibition is presented elsewhere and the venue(s) wants to share the video as well, the applicable exhibition or screening rate should be paid to the artist(s) by each host venue, with no additional payment for sharing the video on that venue’s website. However, if the exhibition does not physically or virtually tour to another gallery, but the video is shared by other venues, the minimum recommended rate paid to the artist(s) should be $250 for a solo exhibition, $125 for a show with two artists, $85 for a show with three artists, or $65 for exhibitions with 4+ artists.

If, however, the artist is asked to participate in or lead the walk through of the exhibition and the gallery organizes, records, and promotes the presentation, then they should be paid a fee for the presentation in accordance with Section 4 of the Fee Schedule. If additional work is provided by the artist, such as recording or editing the video of the virtual tour, then more compensation to the artist should be negotiated.

In all scenarios listed above, additional royalties may be payable if the exhibition includes fully immersive, 3D, or virtual reality components. Contact CARFAC-RAAV or Copyright Visual Arts to consult about the details of your project.

All rates above apply to non-commercial exhibitions of visual, media, or craft-based art, where the work is not offered for sale.

Rates for reproductions of images in an electronic or print publication are found in Sections 2 and 3 of the CARFA C-RAAV Minimum Recommended Fee Schedule.

Example: Gallery B is a Category II institution, and they organize a virtual visit of a solo exhibition, led by the gallery director. They already paid the artist an exhibition royalty of $2,769 for the show, so there is no extra cost to the gallery for posting the video of the tour.  The exhibition was supposed to travel to Gallery C, which is Category III, after it closed at Gallery B, and they now want to share the video. The cost to Gallery C will be $250 just to share the video, or $3,394 if they also present the full exhibition online or in the venue space. If the artist is involved in delivering the virtual tour, then the fee to the artist is a minimum of $316 for a presentation under 4 hours; each Gallery will pay this full rate separately. Gallery B and C are planning to prepare a catalogue for the exhibition – rates for this use are found in section 2 of the Fee Schedule; rates may vary depending on whether the catalogue is in print or electronic, for sale or not, etc. If applicable, additional fees for curatorial work are to be negotiated separately with the curator.

3. Rates for a virtual visit/tour of highlights from the permanent collection

A curator (or other gallery staff) chooses a piece from the permanent collection, and talks about that work, which is presented as a video online – either in a live or pre-recorded presentation. The following rates are to be paid by each presenting institution, in the event that others also broadcast the video.

If the work was previously installed and a permanent exhibition royalty was paid to the artist, then an additional reproduction royalty payable to each artist whose work is used, per video, is $150. If a royalty was not previously paid, then the artist will be paid the applicable Permanent Collection royalty for their work’s inclusion in each video, and according to the host institution’s budgetary category.

If, however, the artist is asked to lead or participate in the discussion of the work, and the gallery organizes, records, and promotes the presentation, then they should be paid a fee for the presentation in accordance with Section 4 of the Fee Schedule. If additional work is provided by the artist, such as recording or editing the video of the virtual tour,  then additional compensation to the artist should be negotiated.

In all scenarios listed above, additional royalties may be payable if the exhibition includes fully immersive, 3D, or virtual reality components. Contact CARFAC-RAAV or Copyright Visual Arts to consult about the details of your project.

All rates above apply to non-commercial exhibitions of visual, media, or craft-based art, where the work is not offered for sale.

Rates for reproductions of images in an electronic or print publication are found in Sections 2 and 3 of the CARFAC-RAAV Minimum Recommended Fee Schedule.

Example: Gallery D’s curator is leading a tour of their five favorite works in the museum’s collection. An exhibition royalty was previously paid for the long-term installation of each of the three works, two of which were created by the same artist, so both artists receive $150 each for using those works in this video. The curator also takes two works out of the vault by the same two artists to include in the video. Since they were not previously on display, each artist receives an additional $275 each, as Gallery D is Category II. The total payment to each artist will be $425. If applicable, additional fees for curatorial work are to be negotiated separately with the curator.

4. Rates for a virtual artist talk

An artist is asked by a museum, gallery, festival, or another type of organization (either commercial or non-profit) to give an artist talk or virtual tour of their studio. The presentation may not necessarily be in association with an exhibition or screening. It may be presented as a video (which may include webinars), podcast, or other form of online presentation – either in a live or pre-recorded presentation.

If an artist has been asked to provide professional services which have been interrupted by venue closures, every effort should be made to offer an online version of their presentation, workshop, or written text.

It is recommended that professional development content, such as workshops on how to write a grant or prepare your taxes as an artist, be shared for a limited period of time, such as one month, and ideally on a password protected website, behind a paywall, and/or with geoblocking. If an organization wishes to make it available for a longer period, they should increase the amount of the fee.

If the organization or institutional host organizes, records, and promotes the presentation, then the artist should be paid a fee for the presentation in accordance with Section 4 of the Fee Schedule. These rates are to be paid by each organization presenting the video, in the event that other organizations also broadcast the video as official content; this does not include informal ‘sharing’ via personal social media channels.

If the artist requires assistance because of the change in format (ie: software or equipment purchases), the host venue should cover those costs, as well as providing additional payment if more time is required to adapt a workshop or lecture for online presentation. For example, if an artist is supplying their own specialized equipment, then equipment rental fees should be added. Rental fees for artists’ equipment should match those of the nearest production centre offering similar equipment. Technical support may also be offered.

In all scenarios listed above, additional royalties may be payable if the presentation includes fully immersive, 3D, or virtual reality components. Contact CARFAC-RAAV or Copyright Visual Arts to consult about the details of your project.

Example: Film festival E asks an artist to speak for an hour about their work, what they are working on and doing to cope during the pandemic, and to offer a sneak peak into their work space. Festival E will handle all preparation and promotion of the video. The artist has been asked to record it using the Festival’s Zoom account, using the webinar features, and the Festival will offer tech support, if any is required. The minimum fee for this presentation is $316.

5. Rates for digital reproductions

The presentation of a digital reproduction of a work on the internet: for exhibitions where CARFAC-RAAV exhibition and screening royalties have been paid, or when an artist is paid above these guidelines, a royalty of $25 per work per support is recommended for website posts that are not presented as a replacement for an exhibition. These uses may include: print or e-invitations, print or e-tickets, website posts, electronic or printed brochures, press kits, print or e-newsletters, mobile applications, not-for-sale digital exhibition catalogues, publicity in journals or periodicals, signage, banners, posters, and annual reports. The special rate does not apply to digital publications that are offered for sale, or print publications, regardless of whether it is for sale. For social media, the royalty of $25 is a flat fee per artist whose work(s) are used, per platform.

For all other uses of an image on a website that are not exhibition related or posted as a virtual exhibition, see Section 2 – B.3.3 Fixed Images on the Internet.

6. Further development of new rates for exhibitions, screenings, or presentations

As previously stated, additional royalties may apply to the above scenarios where the work as presented includes fully immersive, 3-Dimensional, Virtual Reality, etc. components. There may be other scenarios that emerge which we do not currently have rates for. We are working on developing new rates in consultation with artists and presenters, and we will add them as examples here once they are confirmed.

Example: Gallery F, which is Category II, plans to develop an online geo-mapping project that relates to works in their permanent collection. The collection includes works by artists that have responded to the surrounding city or landscape where the gallery is located. Gallery F will situate 20 works from their collection as points of interest on an interactive map. Users will click on a point to see the work associated with that location. Images of the artworks will be embedded within the map platform, and they will appear with all label and credit information as well as a short text to provide context.

In this example, the digital map functions like a virtual walkthrough of the town, similar to an exhibition of selected works from the permanent collection. As such, we recommend that the artists be paid the permanent collection rate of $275 per work involved in the map. The project may exist for years and if new works are added to the project, the artist(s) would be paid the applicable permanent collection rate for the relevant year it is added. If the artist provides written content for the project, they should be paid $0.50- $1.00/word for that text. If applicable, additional fees for curatorial work are to be negotiated separately with the curator.

 

We encourage presenters who have the resources to consider planning the addition of online content, including exhibitions, screenings, and presentations as a contingency plan, or to supplement their growing digital strategy plan for public engagement. The CARFAC-RAAV Minimum Recommended Fee Schedule does not include guidelines for every project that an artist or presenter may possibly imagine. As a result of the present crisis, the creation of payment guidelines for online exhibitions, screenings, residencies, commissioned work, and more has become a priority, and we will do so in consultation with the visual arts community.  To help us do that, please get in touch to discuss what you are currently doing, or considering, for future programming.

 

For further information, please contact:

April Britski, National Executive Director, CARFAC

Bernard Guérin, Directeur général, RAAV

Erin Gurski, Coordinator, Copyright Visual Arts