I had a friend call me all riled up, as we say in Texas, about an organization using artists for donations. From what I gathered they were promoting the event all over, and the artists names that had donated works were not mentioned anywhere. Another problem she saw, was the fact that artwork was starting out at bids of $20. Where is the advocacy, she asked me– don’t they know artists have to make a living…
I see this ALL the time. A non for profit will ask artists to donate to causes, give no name recognition and on top of that, most take 100% for the charity. These same organizations will usually never be interested in the artist otherwise– as to say no one in that said organization ever buys original artwork.
So how did this exploitation proliferate to such a high level? There are lots of factors. One being that artists ARE in fact starved for money, for recognition, for everything. They are willing to give for nothing. Second, there is still little value by society placed on artwork. When a regular business donates to a charity, you can bet your ass their name will appear in all the print among other places.
Why do artists tolerate this? What are your thoughts on the issue… Have you been in this situation before?
Here are some responses that came via email:
1.) An auction in which contributors would bid on a percentage discount, of artist’s work being purchased, for a limited period of time. This could be done showing examples of work by various artists. The organization hosting the event would receive the bids for the discounts only and none of the fees for the actual sale of the art.
2.) An auction of art works in which bidders would pay a bid fee, which would be their charitable contribution while the bids on the art would go to the artists.
3.) The sponsoring organization receiving artist’s donations, would provide an appropriate exhibition and sales venue in which contributing artists could exhibit their work publicly, at a later date, with no sales percentage being taken at that time.
4.) Bidders would bid on the talents of various artist’s to create commissions specifically for their home or business. The initial bids would go to charity but the artists would be paid for the works they create.
After several years of doing this, I found that requests for no-strings free contributions dropped off considerably and that those making such requests were usually be more thoughtful and deliberate. This would often create more opportunities for artists and a growing realization that artists are also professionals.