Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Duelling Press Releases: Artists vs. the National Gallery of Canada

When duelling press releases are issued, you know there is a conflict going on in the art world. The latest instance of this has been a breakdown in exhibition and reproduction fee negotiations between CARFAC/RAAV—the associations representing all of Canada's artists—and the National Gallery of Canada.

According to a CARFAC press release issued December 2:

Visual artists have revived a complaint against the National Gallery of Canada for bargaining in bad faith after mediation talks in November failed to resolve a bargaining impasse that has been outstanding for two years. The complaint will be handled by the Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal (CAPPRT) who can call a hearing to decide the issue.

Negotiations, which first began in 2002, broke down in 2007 when the gallery suddenly refused to discuss exhibition and reproduction fees. This despite the fact that talks had largely revolved around these fees for five years. At that time, the artists’ negotiation committee first filed a complaint with CAPPRT. The complaint was suspended after Marc Mayer was appointed director of the gallery and then agreed to mediation.

“After seven years of negotiation we had hoped to resolve this issue,” said Karl Beveridge, co-chair of the artists’ negotiation committee. “The lack of commitment on the part of the National Gallery to the negotiation process is disappointing and disrespectful to all Canadian artists.”

And according to the National Gallery of Canada's press release issued December 7:

The breakdown in negotiations with the CARFAC/RAAV under the Status of the Artist Act results from CARFAC/RAAV’s interest in concluding agreement on copyright issues outside the boundaries of their certification. The NGC is fully prepared and very committed to resolving the important issues, including terms of professional engagement and services, which are covered by the Status of the Artist Act.

The NGC has long played a leadership role in encouraging and protecting living artistic culture in Canada but it cannot do so outside the Canadian laws and of the long-established regulation process regarding property and copyright.

Mediation was proposed by the NGC in an effort to finally conclude an agreement. On the first day of the mediation process, CARFAC/RAAV put an end to the discussions and announced that they were reviving a complaint they had filed at the Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal (CAPPRT) in early 2008.

So far, CARFAC/RAAV has not responded to the NGC’s invitation to resume discussions on all outstanding issues.

Fun times! FYI on other conflict fronts, the Museum of Civilization workers' strike has now hit 12 weeks. Here's the museum workers' twitter feed; they're currently asking for binding arbitration. And here's the museum's press release feed; they call their offer "realistic and responsible."

Image from NoMoreComm

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