Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canadian artists want system for resale royalty in budget

  • Print

OTTAWA -- The Conservative government wouldn't touch a tax or levy for the Canadian arts scene with a 10-foot pole, but what about a royalty?

Canadian painters, sculptors and other visual artists are hoping Finance Minister Jim Flaherty looks favourably on pre-budget proposals which would allow them to collect a cut whenever their pieces are re-sold on the market.

Singers and songwriters get royalties for their work every time their work is broadcast or used, and film and TV producers can get licensing fees, but the same system has not extended to the realm of visual arts.

For Mary Pratt, a well-known Newfoundland artist whose works are in high demand, a royalty could have netted her a few thousand dollars when one of her pieces commanded $50,000 at a recent auction.

Pratt says she sold the piece for half that. Although she is a successful artist, the 78-year-old says she is in the minority. Few professional artists have pensions or the means to support themselves when they are no longer able to work -- Pratt herself has been plagued with back problems.

"When you're old and the paintings you did when you were 35 -- and you got $25 for, or maybe you gave them away -- are suddenly selling for huge amounts, it's when you're old that you need to benefit from these things," said Pratt, whose work is being celebrated this spring with a retrospective at the Rooms gallery in St. John's.

"When you're young you can go and work at Tim Hortons, you can do all kinds of things to make up for your income, but when you're old, you can't."

The so-called artist resale royalty would work this way: apart from the initial sale and person-to-person exchanges, each time a work of art is sold on the market, a percentage would be sent back to the artist. A government-approved collective would collect and distribute the funds.

The group Canadian Artists' Representation, or CARFAC, has been lobbying MPs and officials to introduce such a system for years, suggesting a five per cent royalty when a work clears a $1,000 threshold. The costs would be shared between the seller and the art dealer.

"Artists, from the time that they make the work, they continue to build their careers, build their reputations, and in a sense build value into the artwork by continuing to make art over their life," said Grant McConnell, president of CARFAC.

"An artist might originally sell a work for $500 to $2,000, and later in their life it would sell for many multiples of that, sometimes upwards of $200,000."

Resale royalty regimes are in place in dozens of other countries, including France, the United Kingdom and Australia. The Australian system was introduced in 2010, and was designed primarily to help aboriginal artists. Between its inception in June 2010 to January 2013, it generated royalties of more than $1.4 million.

In Canada, artwork from the North often ends up getting resold in Europe and other markets. The government of Nunavut recently put out a study on artist resale rights, and determined that the territory's artists would have the most to gain.

One of longtime printmaker Pitaloosie Saila's works, of an Inuit woman in Summer Fashion, is currently up for auction on the online site Waddingtons. Saila is based out of Cape Dorset, Nunavut, the source of much art that is exported outside of Canada.

"It would be good for her if she could get some royalties," said daughter Lau Saila, who added her mother is rarely even aware of when her prints are re-sold.

Said McConnell: "In an economy where there's not a lot of loose money, this is one where the government could do something that is really of no cost to them, that could benefit those of us in the cultural sector."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 15, 2013 D3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Glenn January won't blame offensive line for first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A goose flys defensively to protect their young Wednesday near Kenaston Blvd and Waverley -See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 16 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A gaggle of Canada geese goslings at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg Monday- See Project Honk Day 05- May 07, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Winnipeg control growth to deal with climate change?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google