Friday, August 14, 2009

Making cash from art

Australia is close to introducing a Resale Royalty Right for visual artists. Former rock-star turned Arts Minister, Peter Garrett, introduced draft legislation to the national parliament in November 2008 and the relevant committee has given the proposed law conditional approval. Parliament has not passed the draft law. Under the proposal five percent of the sale price would go to the creator of the work as royalties. There is no cap on the royalty amount but no royalty is payable on the first sale. But Garrett has fallen out of favour with supporters and opponents of resale royalty rights. Visual artists feel that the scheme has been watered down to please auction houses and dealers while art sales industry maintains its deep-seated opposition to the administrative burden that comes with such a scheme. In Australia the most howling discrepancies between the price paid to the artists and the prices on the secondary market have occurred in the case of indigenous artists and it is Aboriginal painters who probably stand to do best out of the new scheme. The market for Australian aboriginal artwork has grown very rapidly over the least two decades and accusations of unscrupulous, exploitative and fraudulent activities are rife. The introduction of a resale royalty right is not going to stamp out crook practices but it may help make artmaking a little more lucrative for Australia’s Indigenous artists and is for that reason alone worth supporting. Further info:

© Brian Long 2009

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