Last week when I was in Sydney, LisaB and I headed to the opening night of the RightNow exhibition at Boomalli, in Leichhardt.Resale Royalties provide a a small royalty payment to individual artists when the artwork is re-sold. The amount of the royalty is only 5%. While for many artists it won’t be a huge “payout”, for others it will provide a small payment each year that will assist them to live and/or keep making artworks. In the case of deceased estates, will provide for the families of artists.
There are very few living visual artists who are well off. When you forgo a steady professional job to become a full-time practising artist, your life (ie. your bank balance) is full of peaks and troughs. This impacts on one’s ability to pay a mortgage, provide for one’s family and children, and plan for the future. It also makes things like superannuation a privilege that other people have. It’s difficult to build the kind of generational wealth that capitalism thrives on, when you’re sometimes earn barely $18,000 per annum.
That’s why Resale Royalties are so important. They are also important for many Aboriginal artists. Many artworks by Aboriginal people increased ten fold in price when resold years later. Without resale royalties, any benefit derived from the resale goes to predominantly White Gallery Owners and their White Buyers.
Other types of artists receive royalty payments of some kind – songwriters, writers, costume and set designers etc.
Yet while many of us feel that Resale Royalties are important, the current government does not. They are proposing to do away with them, and some influential gallery owners agree with them.
What can you do to support the work of Australian visual artists?