Back from CARFAC, and slowly catching up …

Had a fantastic time at the CARFAC Conference!

Lots of thought-provoking discussion, stimulating  sessions, an opportunity to see and speak with people from across the country that I haven’t seen for at least a year.

The weekend left me full of ideas and feeling quite inspired.

I think that’s one of the most vital things this conference can do: it provides a concrete opportunity for people to get to know other professionals from right across the country, and it allows us to share news, projects, and to maintain a real connection to a national community of artists.

This year’s conference focussed on mentoring and education – how we can learn from each other, and what we do as artists and mentors/teachers in a range of communities.

Some fitting imagery for the conference: working together and supporting each other to make things happen. That about sums it up.

Some fitting imagery for the conference: working together and supporting each other to make things happen. That about sums it up.

I had the good fortune to be part of a great group of people attending from Alberta this year; there was a really interesting mix of voices and viewpoints in the group, and I think that diversity allowed all of us to learn a great deal from the sessions, our colleagues, and each other. There were students, recent graduates, emerging and established artists, people connected to artist-run spaces and public service organizations, teachers … a real range of experience and concerns.

Brittney Roy, CARFAC Member and Education & Exhibitions Coordinator at Harcourt House and Margaret Witschl, past Alberta CARFAC Rep, chat with Paddy, Gerald, and me at the end of another thought-provoking day at the conference. So good to be surrounded by such talent and intelligence.

Brittney Roy, (CARFAC Member and Education & Exhibitions Coordinator at Harcourt House) and Margaret Witschl, (past Alberta CARFAC Rep and past-president of VAA), chat with Paddy, Gerald, and me at the end of another thought-provoking day at the conference. So good to be surrounded by such talent and intelligence.

Paddy Lamb (Alberta CARFAC Rep), Gerald Beaulieu (Past President of CARFAC), and Me ... late afternoon, post-session chat. A great way to wind down the day - spending time with inspiring, dedicated people.

Paddy Lamb (Alberta CARFAC Rep), Gerald Beaulieu (Past President of CARFAC), and me … late afternoon, post-session chat. A great way to wind down the day – spending time with inspiring, dedicated people.

We also got a great update on one of the most interesting and important CARFAC initiatives currently: to bring the Artist’s Resale Right to Canada. Currently, about 70 countries have resale right legislation in place; the Artist’s Resale Right legally acknowledges the right of the artist to a small royalty payment when his or her work is resold in the public market. In Canada, the Artist’s Resale Right would allow visual artists to receive 5% when their work is resold.

The panel on the Artist’s Resale Right at the conference this year was really informative, and it was especially good to hear from someone outside the immediate artistic community who is actively supporting ARR in Canada. Scott Simms is a federal MP, and has just introduced a private member’s bill in support of ARR.

The Panel Discussion on the Artists' Resale Right - in full swing!  From the left: April Britski, Executive Director of CARFAC National, David Alexander, Artist,  Scott Simms, MP for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, and Lyle Wilson, Artist. Mr Simms introduced Bill C-516, an Act to amend the Copyright Act (Artist's Resale Right) to the House of Commons recently.
The Panel Discussion on the Artists’ Resale Right – in full swing! From the left: April Britski, Executive Director of CARFAC National, David Alexander, Artist, Scott Simms, MP for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, and Lyle Wilson, Artist. Mr Simms introduced Bill C-516, an Act to amend the Copyright Act (Artist’s Resale Right) to the House of Commons recently.

The ARR just makes sense; given that the artwork is a unique object that could not exist without the artist creating it, it seems ludicrous that artists don’t benefit in some small way from the increased value of their work over time. The ARR is a very small sum in relation to the value placed on artwork in the resale market, but that royalty means a great deal to increasing the financial security of artists, particularly in their later years.

You can find out more about this here:

Much work to be done on the ARR and other intiatives, but a great deal to celebrate too … including CARFAC’s 45th Anniversary!~

CARFAC's 45th Anniversary Cake in all its pre-eaten splendour! Happy Birthday CARFAC!

CARFAC’s 45th Anniversary Cake in all its pre-eaten splendour! Happy Birthday CARFAC!

I find it both remarkable and heartening that professional artists in this country have had the benefit of CARFAC’s advocacy for the past 45 years – it’s a great testament to the dedicated people that keep this organization going. It’s also a telling comment on the socio-economic position of artists in Canada that this organization is so important.

So – Congrats CARFAC – and thanks for the last 45 years!

The ‘art world’ is not a place in which the primary producers get rich; most can’t make a living from their art, or if they do, their income is well below the poverty line. WIthout CARFAC, this situation would be even more grave; this organization has worked long and hard to establish what is essentially a standard ‘minimum wage’ for artists –  a schedule of appropriate fees for exhibition and reproduction of artists’ work. CARFAC asks the simple question: “has the artist been paid??”

It’s a question that needs to be asked, and we need to keep on asking it until the answer becomes “of course!” … but we’re not there yet. And that’s why I’m a CARFAC member, and why  I find the annual CARFAC conference such a benefit to me. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

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