CARFAC National has been advocating to have an Artist Resale Right included in the new Copyright Act. Already law in 59 countries around the world, the Artist Resale Right would entitle artists to receive 5% from the resale of their work. This is important because the full value of an artwork often is not realized on the initial sale.
For example, acclaimed Canadian artist Tony Urquhart sold a painting, The Earth Returns to Life in 1958 for $250 which was later resold for approximately $10,000. Currently art dealers, auction houses, and collectors receive all the profits from these kinds of sales, even though the increase in value is in large part due to the artists’ perseverance and dedication over time.
Canada’s aboriginal and senior artists in particular are losing out on the tremendous profits being made on their work in the secondary market. Many artists living in isolated northern communities live in impoverished conditions, while their work dramatically increases in value. Half of visual artists in Canada earn less than $8,000 per year. Even Governor General Award winning artists find it difficult if not impossible to make a living from their art.
Members of Parliament from all four parties have expressed an interest in CARFAC’s proposal. In particular, heritage critics Pablo Rodriguez, Carole Lavallée and Charlie Angus have encouraged CARFAC to pursue the addition of the Artists’ Resale Right into Canadian law.
The following groups have also signed on to CARFAC and RAAV’s proposal: Visual Arts Alberta, Visual Artists Newfoundland and Labrador, The Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association, the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, the Artist-Run Centres and Collectives Conference, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, the Canadian Federation of Musicians, the Canadian League of Composers, The Creators Copyright Coalition, Access Copyright, CARFAC British Columbia, CARFAC Saskatchewan, CARFAC Manitoba, CARFAC Ontario, CARFAC Maritimes, Illustration Québec and DAMIC – a Quebec coalition of artists and copyright collectives.
What people are saying about the Artist’s Resale Right
This is a wonderful way for artists to benefit from their hard work and dedication to, in many cases, their life’s work. In my case it was not until later in life that I have achieved a semblance of success, and at 92 yrs of age and surviving on a small pension and returns on dwindling investments it would definitely have been helpful to have had a small stream of extra income.
Order of Canada, Governor General Award Winner, Ontario
It seems this is long overdue – there is no current means to support artists still working but in the latter part of their careers.
Recipient of the 2009 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts for Outstanding Contribution, Ontario
As many Inuit artists will agree, they have been getting the wrong end of the price point for years. Many Inuit artists have sold their work for lower than average prices, only to see the same piece in a gallery or on a website in today’s market at four or five times the amount they were paid.
The Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association
The resale of art is also a new issue that has not really had a lot of attention, but it is one that leaves Canadian artists in a position of distinct disadvantage… At committee, we may wish to explore the European model or the European experience and see how Canadian artists can be better compensated for their work.
The Honorable Dan McTeague
Member of Parliament for Pickering - Scarborough East
I have seen my work escalate in value by quite a big percentage. A painting done in 1966 fetched $40 and is valued now at $20,000. As we get older it gets harder and harder to find the energy to produce enough work to maintain a decent living.
Artist, Companion of the Order of Canada, Newfoundland
The resale right would mean respect for my position as artist, a share in increased value of my work.
Royal Canadian Academy, Ontario
The resale right is important, if not the most important right we could have.
One of the works I produced in 1956, which I had given to a friend was sold by his heir at auction for a little more than $86,000. I did not receive one cent from this sale. Others are getting rich on my works, while my situation remains very insecure at 85 years of age.
Artist, Officer of the Order of Canada, Montreal
The Artist’s Resale Right is an equitable means for artists to earn income and is completely in line with the government’s goal of modernizing the copyright act.
CARFAC National President, Prince Edward Island
Every artist knows there are those rare gems that shine apart from the others and held build one’s reputation. Our potential masterpieces are usually the first to sell at an exhibition but the full value of an artwork often isn’t realized on the initial sale - time is needed to determine if they and the artists’ importance rises substantially in value.
CARFAC BC President, Vancouver