The Balance of Power

Carol Nunan raised an interesting question on her blog – what makes a good gallery? Well I know what makes a bad one……

The other day a gallery called me, urgently requesting more work. The problem was that they hadn’t paid me at that point for more than six months of sales – and this from a gallery who can only pay their artists quarterly because of their ‘accounts system’. It helped that in this case I knew that they had sold at least some work as they were asking for replacements of pieces I had already sent to them.

So I have to say that I came over all militant and told them I wouldn’t provide the gallery with any more work until I received a cheque – which duly arrived.

A lot of my colleagues seem to feel that galleries will pay when they are ready to and there’s not a lot we can do. After all, we don’t always get to know if and when the work has sold (until they ring up for more, that is). And I have to admit that this gallery sells very well for me so I wouldn’t be keen to rock that particular boat…..

And I know how hard it is to be assertive when few of us have any financial security , let alone savings, pensions, etc., so the balance of power has always seemed heavily weighted in favour of the galleries (although less so these days, as lots of artists now sell directly to their customers through their websites and of course there are all those art fairs which were unheard of a decade ago…..but that’s another story ).

And don’t get me started on the supplying of artwork on a sale or return basis that most galleries like to operate from – the least you’d expect from that arrangement is that they’d have the courtesy to pay their artists on time…

Oh dear, I do seem to have come over all bitter and Scrooge-like – it must be that time of year.

Happy Christmas!

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