Photo by Denise Strong, Cambridge Centre for the Arts

Photo by Denise Strong, Cambridge Centre for the Arts

Artists are always broke, no matter how hard they work. Why? We live in a community that celebrates creative processes and supports the arts. Maybe a generalization but this simple question led to three years of discovery and consultation across Waterloo Region, asking people in the visual arts and other sectors about problems and potential solutions.

Concerns expressed include lack of fair compensation and income-generating opportunities, lack of appropriate exhibition opportunities and funding, low exhibition rates and art prices; the 'exposure' myth, requests for free decor, free donations for fundraisers undermining the fair value market for art, and public misconceptions around art creation and value.

Traditional creative models to acknowledge and instill value are developed but only employed by a few organizations and businesses to promote local visual arts practitioners. With limited opportunities, artists exhibit for free, or for much less than CARFAC established rates so there's no cause to address these issues. Knowing that it's tough to ask for and get a fair price for artwork, artists most often underprice their work to sell, or even 'give away' work making it hard to educate the public and establish standards for fair compensation.

The public expressed confusion, the need for the development of good business practices and professionalism in this arts sector.  The lack of a comprehensive visual arts information source, beyond one's own network, was identified as a fundamental problem across the region.  The Art$Pay project design is the outcome of this extensive and on-going consultation, has evolved over time to reflect that valuable feedback.

The next stage involves you!

Use Art$Pay! Visit frequently to connect with artists, events, practitioner skills and the information you need. Help to build it out, contribute input and suggestions. But most importantly, tell others about it and make it your own!