An industry campaign focused against royalties for artists is threatening a potentially important source of income for established and emerging artists. The Artist’s Resale Right or Droit de Suite entitles UK artists and their families to royalties for artworks selling above €1000. However, a campaign led by art dealers is calling for this threshold to be raised to €3000. This royalty was always set up to benefit the bigger blue chip artists and European foundation mafias and has done little to collect funds for the struggling independent artist. Wealthy artists like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin have been the only ones to benefit greatly from this ‘Art Tax’. The tariff is mostly enforced at auction and few emerging artist’s work is sold in this manner.
The Government’s decision in 2005 to opt for the European directive has produced a lower threshold of €1000 which has meant that more emerging artists could enjoy resale royalties, as well as photographers and illustrators, whose works often sell at lower prices than fine art.
41 per cent of artists who have received resale royalties since the Right came in in 2006 did so because of the lower threshold. Raising the threshold could deprive them, and other artists, of future royalties.
‘For the sake of royalty payments of around £32, raising this threshold will disenfranchise younger and emerging artists as their works resell in the UK art market,’ says Gilane Tawadros, Chief Executive of DACS, the Design and Artists Copyright Society.‘Resale royalties are a valuable investment in the life blood of the UK’s art market at a time when public funding cuts are significantly reducing artists’ incomes.’ says artist, Stuart Semple. ‘I’m amazed some parts of the art market are still fighting a rear-guard action against the Artist’s Resale Right. Without artists there would be no art market,’ says Chris Bryant MP, a long-standing supporter of the resale right.
Since the Right was introduced in 2006, DACS has paid artists more than £15 million in resale royalties. While the resale royalties are modest, they are meaningful to artists as research shows that in 2010 the median wage for a fine artist was only £10,000.
The DACS was established by artists for artists, DACS (the Design and Artists Copyright Society) is an innovative visual artists’ rights management organisation, representing over 80,000 creative individuals including fine artists, photographers and illustrators from the UK and abroad. The Artist’s Resale Right was introduced in February 2006, due to a European Directive, and entitles artists and their beneficiaries to a royalty each time their work changes hands through an auction house or gallery. The Right successfully balances the interests of artists with the interests of the art trade and recognises the on-going stake an artist has in the economic value of their work.
Artists who think this may effect them are being asked to make their views known to Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt via Twitter: @Jeremy_Hunt and using hashtag #resaleright