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News / November 24, 2014

Artists Reach Trial Agreement with Nat’l Gallery

Following more than a decade of negotiation and litigation, the National Gallery of Canada is close to reaching an agreement with key artist groups on fees.
A view of the National Gallery of Canada. A view of the National Gallery of Canada.

It looks like a decade-plus process of negotiation—and litigation—between the National Gallery of Canada and Canadian artists is finally reaching an end.

Today, the National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Artists’ Representation / Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC) and the Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels du Québec (RAAV) announced that they have reached an historic agreement.

The agreement covers terms and conditions for the exhibition and the reproduction of works of art at the National Gallery of Canada, as well as the provision of professional services by living Canadian artists at the gallery.

“This is the first collective agreement for visual artists in Canada, so that’s a pretty significant milestone for visual artists in the country,” says April Britski, executive director of CARFAC. “There are a number of things that like payments that will be increased to artists as a result, as well as other items that the gallery previously didn’t pay for”—like fees for exhibitions of works from the permanent collection—”that will be compensated now as a result of this agreement.”

The agreement was reached through negotiations that took place November 18 to 21—though such negotiations officially began in 2003. Britski says that the hope is that the gallery’s board and the boards of CARFAC and RAAV will approve the agreement in the next few weeks. Then, the agreement will go to CARFAC and RAAV’s roughly 5,000 members for a ratification vote. If that goes through, she says “we hope to have a finalized agreement sometime in February.”

“It’s possible a lot of artists will feel like maybe this agreement will never affect them, because it only involves the National Gallery,” Britski admits. “But it’s really important for artists to vote on it because it will have a lot of implications for other institutions we negotiate with.” For instance, it could affect future negotiations with other national institutions, as well as set new standards for regional galleries.

The news follows CARFAC and RAAV’s win of a Supreme Court appeal against the gallery in May. For more details, read our posts Artists Win Appeal Against National Gallery of Canada and 5 Things You May Not Know About the National Gallery Artist Fee Fight.

Leah Sandals

Leah Sandals is news and special sections editor at Canadian Art. She has also written for the Toronto Star, National Post and Globe and Mail, among other publications. She welcomes tips, corrections and comments anytime at leah@canadianart.ca.