Arts and Labor Minutes 2/29/12

Posted by & filed under .


Arts & Labor Meeting Minutes: February 29, 2012

Location: 60 Wall Street


ES facilitating

YA Minutes

AS Time keeper

No stack taker


12 people attended


Report Backs and Announcements


ES:  the second Alternative Economies teach in will take place on Sunday, March 4, 2012 from 3PM to 6PM.

It will include a tour of Manhattan’s “Art Block” in the Lower East Side (NYC’s only official art district). Tour is limited to 20 participants. If interested, RSVP at


This teach in looks to the model of the Solidarity Economy as a strategy for organizing new art economies. Schedule: 3:15 PM: Tour of 4th Arts Block led by Tamara Greenfield, Executive Director. Maximum Capacity: 20. Please RSVP at
4-5 PM: Presentation by Cheyenna Weber and Caroline Woolard of SolidarityNYC
5-6 PM: Discussion


ES: Occupy Town Square took place on Saturday, February 25, 2012. A&L had a table with Whitney/Sotheby’s t-shirts and info about the different sub-groups.

KK: worked the table with AS. Got positive feedback from the public on A&L projects. The discussion was mostly about the Biennial. There was a bit confusion – lots of people reacted with admiration for the biennial, but once the Sotheby’s situation was explained were more amenable.

AS: also worked the table. Spoke to a few journalists about the biennial actions.


[The group decided to talk further about the biennial actions in the next meeting when people who attended them are present.]


MP: Met with the Musicians Solidarity Council at Occupy Town Square (2/26) – a group that came out of the Musicians Union that is focused on music and labor issues. During the meeting they decided to demand pay for musicians from clubs (usually make just tips). This is already a law that’s on the books but no one enforces it. They are building a campaign, possibly with May 1 are the focal point.

On Thursday, March 1 “Justice for Jazz Artists” action will take place, as part of the campaign demanding pension payments for jazz musicians in the city. This will be the first rally in a planned series and it will take place outside five different jazz clubs: Blue Note, Village Vanguard, Birdland, Jazz Standard, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola (at Lincoln Center).


ES: there was a meeting on Sunday, Feb 26 to begin formulating a protocol for A&L direct actions – how to determine what is by the group and what is autonomous. Decided on putting together a “Newcomers Brochure” as well as a process that will enable accountability for the ideas that come up in A&L meetings to be seen through.

Once the document is formalized it will be brought to the group for consensus, hopefully in the next week.

AS: is dealing with press part of the protocol?


YA: The Unpaid Internship group is holding its first meeting on Wednesday, March 7, 7PM at The Commons in Brooklyn.

KK: there is a rough draft of the proposed agenda items for the meeting:

– overview of EG’s resources and research (as summarized on the GG thread), especially what the law requires of companies hiring interns–compiling a resources/reading list
– determine other places to send the NYFA letter and expansion of action
(tailor the letter to those ‘other places’)
– brainstorm other actions that can raise awareness to exploitative internship practices

– organizing on the intern front (getting testimonials, organizing direct action, etc)

– raising funds to backup the interns or institutions that decide to play it “fair” (this can be an A&L wide thing, OWS-wide thing)

– compiling a list of criteria to meet to be considered “fair” internships (this in addendum to what you mentioned already about what the law requires)

EG: Have done a lot of outreach to companies about their posts of unpaid internships. Suing a former internship employer for back pay (class action suit?)

Interested in building a grassroots movement that will have former interns filing for back pay from employers. For-profit organizations are required by law to pay interns for their work.

Would like to build a network of lawyers that will be available to advise interns of their rights.

ES: H.E.N.S. has statisticians that would like to work with A&L. Could be a great project to bring them into the fold. They could be very useful in producing visual materials that could effectively spread the word.

YA: would like to have a long term goal of this group that would create a cultural shift in thinking about internships – both in for-profit and nonprofit institutions. Labor needs to be a priority and a value that is compensated regardless of experience.

PW: law students who would like to work in the public sector with community organizations who can’t afford to compensate them have the support of a “public interest auction” that is sponsored by the law school. There are models in other industries that can be transferred to the cultural field.

NS: unpaid internships are a self-perpetuating situation. People want the experience and opportunity and therefore are willing to work for free.

EG: Would like to distribute a bullet-point document of what is wrong with unpaid internships and the harm they do to the individuals and the economy.

Wants to start a campaign between now and the end of the summer that spreads the word about unpaid interns’ rights to back pay. Proposed to organize an action (similar to the Credit Union Transfer day) that mobilizes summer interns to file for back pay on the same day or week—an action that will make the Department of Labor notice that their law isn’t being enforced.

ES: may want to explore a link to the OWS Student Debt campaign

Most successful actions have been visible interventions that allow a way to plug back in. Should utilize the art component of the A&L group more.


ES: What is A&L doing for May 1?

There is a meeting about the general strike on Sunday, March 4, 6PM at The Commons in Brooklyn. Should A&L produce some form of visual signifier for May 1? An opportunity for the group to join back in with OWS through aesthetics.


M. Green who created the Bat Signal owns a van – The Illuminator – and he has offered it to us to do renegade projections.


AS: “Occupy Lunch” was very effective in brining different groups together. Maybe we should explore doing something like that for May 1.

Would like to call for an arts cluster in preparation for May 1—will bring this up in the next A&L meeting in order to find someone to take this on and organize it. Will also post to the google group.


MP: Labor is planning an individual action within each union and then will also join into OWS later in the day. Unions cannot legally announce a general strike, so are finding other ways of participating and supporting the call.


AS: Would like to hold an info session to train people on how to manage the website. Will post to the google group and request someone with skills to step up and take this on. – should we form a coalition of people to voice our opinion on this website? It has been hiring people from OWS to build out the website.


ES: OWS groups focus too much on issues of co-optation, not action.

AS: the problem is mainly with transparency. There are people from several arts groups working for the website who are not being upfront about it.

MP: The only thing we can do is request transparency from people in the A&L group.


AS: The Commons Forum:  organizing a group with The Commons Forum that wishes to understand arts within the commons.  The general Commons group means weekly on Saturdays – it’s a very diverse group.

ES: should organize an event based on exchange rather than talks.

YA: does it make sense for the arts commons to organize a teach-in or workshop within the Alternative Economies framework?

ES: after the Alt-Econ teach in on March 4, it’s “open season.” There are other people interested in organizing various workshops – AS could also have one about the Commons.

Let’s use the discussion time on Sunday to decide what we want to do with this.


IE: Report back from Biennial opening

The Teamsters went in through the VIP entrance as guests of invitation holders.

Planned to have a “conversation” on the 4th floor that has been designated as a performance space.


NS: the public should be educated in the labor aspect of what goes into putting up an exhibition like the Biennial – a labor perspective of the Biennial.


The group discussed options of advancing dialogue at the Biennial.


Comments are closed.