Fair Art

June 26th, 2013 | Posted by Julie in art | discussion | slideshow - (1 Comments)

G_ProtestFor the attention of anyone who has an interest in the display of any art in any environment at any time


Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost the perception that artists are of value. Art is seen as valuable, but somehow the process of creation, the energy and time of an individual are not.

Today, more than ever, we see artists being asked to provide their work and their services for free. This is not the usual cry of “woe is the impoverished artist” but rather a reminder that to ask someone to produce something for you for free is rude.

How can we begin to state the value of artists when the very people who love art, and want it to be a part of their lives either don’t even consider, or simply refuse to find money to support it?

For the avoidance of any doubt, the vast majority artists are freelance (not on a salaried wage). This means that when you ask for them to for their time and energy, they should be paid for it.

John Maynard Keynes, the first chair of the Arts Council of Great Britain in 1946, obtained government funds to promote music and the arts. As an economist he saw the value in encouraging cultural activities. We have a rich heritage of the value of our creative industries in the UK, and quite why artists are perceived in a different class we cannot understand.

You pay electricians to give you light, printers to print flyers, caterers to provide you drink, production and marketing companies to produce events. If you are paying for these professional services, why would you not pay the artists too? They are professional, working people.

Please do not put artists in the position of having to tell you that they cannot work for free. It is embarrassing. Your assumption that this is acceptable (for the glory! for the honor! for the exposure!), is not only wrong, but insulting, and you should stop perpetuating this. It is wrong.

To artists reading this – please think carefully about engaging in non-paid work. You are perpetuating the belief that artists are happy to work for free, and the message it sends out is that you view your skills as having very little value. The actions of one affect us all.

Please share this letter far and wide. Add this link to your email footer, to correspondence, to conversations, whenever this situation arises. bit.ly/fairart

We hope this disrespectful situation, and this tired discussion, will fade.

Yours faithfully,

Market Project, for and on behalf of every artist that has been asked to work without recompense.



What are artists really worth? Funding, friction and the future of art. As artists find themselves at the end of the cultural food chain, Susan Jones suggests a new activism to reaffirm their status (Guardian)

http://shouldiworkforfree.com (“Did they promise you “exposure” or “a good portfolio piece”? [YES] “This is the most toxic line of bullshit anyone will ever feed you.”)

in conversation

May 20th, 2013 | Posted by david kefford in art | art education | discussion | event | gallery | research | venue - (Comments Off)

I will be in conversation with Judith Alder at the next Blue Monkey networking event on

Wednesday 29 May, 6 – 8pm

and offering 1-2-1 sessions with artists:

From the Towner website:

Introducing… David Kefford

We are pleased to welcome Cambridge-based artist, David Kefford, who will talk about his arts practice and projects he’s involved with including the artist run organisation, Aid & Abet which he co-founded in 2009. David is also a member of Market Project and a Trustee of Block 336, an artist run space in Brixton. He is currently a visiting lecturer at University of Hertfordshire.


Refreshments will be available (contributions welcome) or feel free to bring a bottle.

All welcome. FREE to Blue Monkey Network members; non-members £8.

We are pleased to offer artists the opportunity of a 1-2-1 session with David Kefford
to discuss aspects of their practice on Wednesday 29 / Thursday 30 May. Each
session will last around 45 minutes. To apply for a 1-2-1 please email
with the following information:
200 words about your work and what aspect of your practice you’d like to
discuss with David
a short cv (no more than 2 pages)
a link to your website if you have one

1-2-1s are FREE to Network members; £10 for non-members.
To book please e-mail: bluemonkeynet@btinternet.com

Full of Eastern Promise

December 11th, 2012 | Posted by admin in art | discussion | notice | research - (6 Comments)

We’ve been quiet for a while because our official first programme of events and projects has ended, but we’re now thinking about what to do next. In January/February 2013 we’ll be publishing our first policy document, gathering some of our conclusions about what we’ve discovered over the past two years and sharing information we think all professional artists need to know, what best practice might look like in an ideal world, and who are the wrong ‘uns to always avoid (and why).

Two related possibilities are firstly the expansion of the group to include more professional East Anglian artists in the very successful learning, career development and peer support activities we’ve been doing on a small scale; secondly to facilitate mentoring by and for artists, not just on day-to-day career matters but on ethical, economic and personal matters (e.g. the gender pay gap, or managing a career as an artist when you have children) similar to some of the issues we’ve covered on this blog and at our live events. We know already that many artists are grappling with these issues on their own. We’d also like to bring artists together to address some of the failures, omissions and mis-steps of institutions in the region with regard to artist support. We already have some horror stories of our own– mentors who did it in a spirit of ego and competition instead of a spirit of generosity, so-called “experts” who provided totally basic (and sometimes wrong) information as if it was a great revelation, advisers who didn’t even bother to find out basic information about the person they were meant to be helping, lazy old handouts or Powerpoints about general matters, artist groups that are all talk and no action, and so on. We want to do this right, so help us by sharing how you think it should be done.

Some background information and research material:



Case studies from the Cultural Leadership Programme, including our Julie:

Julie Freeman

Helen Carnac

Members of Market Project will be discussing possibilities and experiences with mentoring and artist groups here, but everyone with an interest is encouraged to comment and contribute especially if you’re an artist who’d like to become part of an artist-led support network, or if you’d like to learn from or mentor other arts professionals. What knowledge or contacts do you think you need but don’t know how to get? If you’ve been mentored, critiqued or been critiqued, or worked with a group of artists or studio group, what were the good things about those things and what were the things you thought were wrong?

Sluice 2012, 22-24 October

October 18th, 2012 | Posted by admin in art | books | event | exhibition | gallery | notice | slideshow - (Comments Off)

Exhibition of works for sale in a silent, blind and anonymous auction; these have been donated by over fifty artists (including Market Project’s Annabel Dover and Alistair Gentry) to contribute to the return of the artist-led and artist-centred Sluice Art Fair in 2013. Alistair was on Sluice Art Fair’s discussion panel in 2011, with his Market Project hat on. Our David’s Aid & Abet is also involved, as is our former guest Cathy Lomax’s Transition Gallery.

See the work Monday 22 October- Wednesday 24 October, 12-6 daily. Then come to the book launch and reception at Hanmi Gallery, 30 Maple Street, London W1T 6HA from 6-9pm on Wednesday 24th to see who has been lucky enough to walk away with the work they bid for.

PS: Hanmi has a sister gallery in Seoul, which is in fact Gangnam Style.

An interesting article about the maintenance of profit, prestige and artificial scarcity in the commercial art world.

“The art trade doesn’t exist outside of economic theory and consumer protection, but it does have its own set of rules that may range from the objectionable to the legally unenforceable. “


Feel the Fear

September 12th, 2012 | Posted by admin in art | discussion - (1 Comments)

Liz Hill at Arts Professional hits the nail right on the head:

“The subsidised arts sector lives in fear of the hands that feed it. For artists or funded arts organisations to speak up against bad practice, corruption, favouritism, back-handers, rule-breaking, nepotism, back-room deals, intimidation or bullying is perceived as tantamount to signing their own death warrants. Their professional lives are in the hands of those who hold the purse strings, and ‘keeping your head down’ is known to be the name of the game.”

Read the rest at http://artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/view.cfm?id=6469&issue=257

RFOs, say goodbye to your unpaid interns

September 12th, 2012 | Posted by admin in art - (Comments Off)

The Arts Council gets a lot of flak– sometimes justifiably– but we should also remember that they have been and can still be a powerful force for good on the English arts scene. A good example of this is their announcement of a scheme to support paid, fair and non-exploitative art internships. They’re even talking openly about many big arts organisations not adhering to basic employment law and ethics, and the unpaid work culture leading to a situation where  increasingly it’s only the children of affluent parents who stand a long term chance of gaining and keeping proper paid employment… having subsidised their own employers for months or years previously.

Do our eyes deceive us, or is (ACE Executive Director) Andrea Stark even issuing a pretty blunt and long overdue warning to ACE-funded offenders here?

“I very much hope that those organisations that either receive funds from us or want to work with the arts council, will understand what we’re about and what we think is the right and fair and proper thing to do. And we really hope that organisations stay on the right side of the law.”

Note that some reports (including, to some extent, the link) are emphasising the need for such a scheme but slightly burying the fact that the Creative Employment Programme hasn’t started yet. It’s being put out to tender, and is unlikely to start until 2013.


Zero tolerance

September 10th, 2012 | Posted by Alistair in art - (Comments Off)

Another week, another list of artist opportunities that needs to do their homework (the offender this time is Axis), instead of thoughtlessly sending out and tacitly promoting a link that leads artists into this maelstrom of horrendous design, vague promises and demands for money:


Galeria Zero have all the warning signs of a venture that no credible, sensible or professional artist should go anywhere near. They also apparently operate as do-arting.info [sic] and ArtExpo-London2012.com, this latter in a blatantly misleading riding-on-the-Olympic-coat-tails kind of way: where are the LOCOG brand enforcement police when we need them? Red alert when we see a so-called opportunity for artists that has:

  • Terrible, sloppy design, which may be the reason for vital information being hidden away in illogical places. Or maybe they don’t want you knowing any vital information? You decide. It’s absolutely certain that no reputable gallery has link bait pages like this one.
  • No names, no provenance, no connections to credible artists, galleries or professional organisations of any kind. Just vague, generic snapshots of anonymous white spaces that could be anywhere or not even related. A bare address in Amsterdam. They’ve actually paid for a masking service on their WhoIs internet registration records so nobody can track them down too easily. Again, there are sometimes good privacy reasons for doing so but in this kind of context one would not be unjustified in fearing the worst. You should always be able to find out who you’re dealing with and what they’ve done before.
  • Broken English, even in the sections that are supposed to be about London. Not being very good at English isn’t a crime, of course, but it does seem to be a hallmark of these scammy, spammy sites.
  • Tantalising, exotic locations that an artist might reasonably want to visit and put on their CV. And Ghent. Bad snapshot photography of sparsely attended gallery spaces that could be anywhere, or indeed nothing to do with the current opportunities on offer.
  • Vague, non-committal application process that isn’t even clear about what one is applying for, what the decision making process consists of, and what kind of dialogue or support one can expect whether selected or not. And of course no clear or upfront mention of what exactly it will cost you, or even that it will cost you anything at all, apart from this skeletal page that mentions sums of “€500-€1500″. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said this, but I’ll say it again: a professional relationship between a gallery and an artist does not involve the artist paying to exhibit their own work. You should be paid, not paying.

Artists, please do yourself and all of your colleagues or peers a favour by not putting money in the bank for these people. They won’t get you anywhere and no professional in the arts has any respect for them, nor for anybody who deals with them. And organisations who send out opportunity listings to artists, I know that your information is compiled in good faith from information that’s made available to you… but it only took me a few minutes to arrive at the opinion that GZ are probably not legit. I’m tired of seeing these dodgy businesses being promoted to artists by people who claim to have our interests at heart. Do your homework, please, for the sake of the artists you’re meant to be serving. At least look at the links you’re sending out before you actually click the mouse to send them.


Disrupting the gallery

September 5th, 2012 | Posted by Alistair in art - (Comments Off)

 A very interesting (and funny) update from Charlie Gates, a former client of Debut Contemporary who previously chipped in on the DC post that went viral possibly because of, rather than in spite of, various sock puppets, stooges and fellow travellers of theirs trying to shut down the debate and blacken our names behind our backs. Unusually for a story that involves art world rip offs, camping out at reception with a stonewalling “gallery maid” (LOL), and a decomposing fox in a suitcase, there’s even a (sort of) happy ending. Well done, Charlie.

DC and their cronies seem to love throwing the word “slander” about, even though they apparently don’t know what it means. This was also brought up on our site, so I’m really glad that Gates patiently schooled them on what slander actually is. In written form it’s libel, anyway. In any case, as Gates points out, in the general world of grown up common sense and by law in most countries (including the laws of the British Isles), it is generally not considered slander or libel to express a sincerely held opinion based upon one’s own experiences, knowledge, or understanding. It’s only slander or libel when one knowingly and maliciously spreads falsehoods. Like, you know, sending sneaky emails to other people that an artist works with. Or publicly calling an artist a liar when they have proof of what they’re saying.

Knowingly spreading the truth is… a lot of things. Honourable. Just. Admirable. Certainly not a crime, not slander,  not “spreading rumours” (another of DC’s code words for fair criticism or dissent), and certainly not something that anybody has a right to stifle.


The term Emerging Artist……

September 4th, 2012 | Posted by Annabelle in art - (2 Comments)


 I have pondered and wondered about this term for years and i have come to the conclusion that I am …