Re-sale Royalties - The Right Thing

Inuit & Indigenous Art always draws my attention and captures my imagination. I suspect that it has something to do with the simple honesty that I see.

In the many, many, downsizing and estate sales and auctions I've been to, I can't seem to walk or scroll past Indigenous pieces without at least trying to win them.  I'm not always successful but I do now have a very nice collection of art and sculpture.

I've hesitated to list these pieces for sale for a couple of reasons. Most of them feel quite personal to me and I'm somewhat hesitant to part with them.  It also feels somehow wrong to make a profit from artwork that I had no part in creating or from an artist's work who is in no way benefitting.  I suppose the same could be said for other vintage and antique items I've listed for sale but the difference for me is that manufactured pieces can't usually be attributed to a single artisan.  Artwork in general, and Inuit art in particular, is often signed and the artist can usually be identified.

It's generally agreed that artists receive the least amount of money in the original sale of an artwork. When a piece is resold, prices often increase as the reputation of the artist and the market grows.  Resale of that same piece can sometimes reach staggering numbers. The fact that collectors are willing to pay such amounts for these exceptional works is a wonderful thing.  A testament to the skill of the art community in the Canadian north, and the quality of the works produced there.  The artists who created these beautiful pieces however, don't receive any money when their art is resold. The sometimes huge returns go to the galleries, auction houses, brokers, etc., as they should for their part in promoting, organizing and increasing the awareness of this beautiful art community.  However, nothing goes back to the original artist nor to the community that produces and supports these artists.  That just seems wrong.

The Artist Resale Right entitles visual artists to share in the ongoing success of their art by providing them with a percentage (5%) of any resale of their art. Not an outrageous amount. $2.50 on a piece sold for $100 or $500 on a piece sold for $10,000.  To date, 59 countries across the world have endorsed the Artist Resale Right and legislation has been adopted to ensure this right for artists.  The Artist Resale Right has not been adopted in Canada nor in the United States, with the exception of California.  So, artists in North American generally receive nothing on the resale of their work.  Shameful really.  There's much more information available on this subject in the links below.

CARFAC Help Bring the Artist’s Resale Right to Canada
http://www.carfac.ca/initiatives/help-bring-the-artists-resale-right-to-canada/

Recommendations for an Artist Resale Right in Canada, November 2010
http://www.carfac.ca/carfacwp/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/artists-resale-right-proposal-carfac-rev-nov-23.pdf

Canadian Artists Representation Copyright Collective
http://www.carcc.ca/artist-resale-right.html

Nunatsiaq Online: March, 2012 -Nunavut government supports resale royalties for artists
http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674nunavut_government_supports_resale_royalties_for_artist/

Resale rights for visual artists can only help to nurture and promote the artistic community, which in turn will hopefully allow artists to create a sustainable living through sales of their work. 

In my tiny little world of online sales, I'm committed to establishing a system whereby 5% from the sale of any original art will be remitted back to the artist.  I'm not quite sure how I'll do that yet, and it would be a whole lot easier if I could simply file a return of sales along with any funds owing to a governing body, but I'm confident I can find a way and I'm open to suggestions.  This will likely represent a minuscule amount of real money, but it's more a statement of support for a long overdue initiative.  Ethical buying and selling....what a concept!

 

 



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