Arts & Labor Meeting Summary 10/18/2011

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Hi All,
These are really rough minutes. I didn’t take great notes. I know people said more… so please forgive me if I missed you. Feel free to fill in any details.

People Present:
Blithe Riley
Julie Sengle
Daniel Minnick
A.K Burns
Katie Hubbard
Alma Sheppard-Matsuo
Joshua Kit Clayton
Lise Soskolne
K8 Hardy

Blithe Riley- Visual Artist/ works in non-profit arts world
Julie Sengle- Arts Administrator/ Warhol Foundation
Daniel Minnick- Visual Artist
A.K. Burns- W.A.G.E
Katie Hubbard (came late, not part of intro)
Alma Sheppard-Matsuo- Animator, member of Arts and Culture and Puppet OWS working groups
Joshua Kit Clayton- Musician, lives in SF here for the week
Lise Soskolne- W.A.G.E/ Grant writer/ development
K8 Hardy- W.A.G.E

Blithe- Initiated this group in response to following the OWS Arts and Culture googlegroup. Wanted to interject issues of economic inequality into A&C as it is such a big part of other aspects of OWS. Seems like an excellent moment to bring the exploitation that happens in the art world to light.

Alma- we are interesting in targeting issues like unpaid interns, artists not getting paid for their work, working for cultural capital, also finding a common thread that goes between disciplines- also in the commercial arts. there are similar stories of exploitation in the commercial animation field, a way to bridge distinctions between fine and commercial arts perhaps?

W.A.G.E- We have been working on these issues since 2008! Let us tell you what we are doing.
A.K., K8, and Lise explain history.
– started as open forum, then decided to work as a small body and focus in on a specific target topic.
– W.A.G.E is working on getting museums and non-profits to adopt a fee structure.
– Institutions can become W.A.G.E certified. First certification is coming up (Art in General- or Artist Space, can’t remember). That will include a public forum and panel discussion to invite the public to help draft the content of the certification.
– The majority of the work that they have done is consciousness raising to date.
K8 reads Wo/manifesto. Read it here:

Awesome! Now that we have some context for where everyone is coming from can we talk a little bit about what people think about OWS. How this moment provides a moment to work in… what opportunities that we see?

One thing that seems to be a thread that people are talking about in OWS is the collection of stories and knowledge. This group could use its network to collect and gather stories related to these issues.
– Also opportunity for awareness, direct action, and discussions about building long-term sustainability

– hungry for direct action. OWS seems like an amazing opportunity for coalition building

– we could plan a series of awareness talks and invite speakers on the square

– maybe first we do some basic outreach. in the form of actions maybe?  i am not sure if the public is really aware of the extent of exploitation in the arts overall.

– seems like we need more discussion/education and a set of goals before we come up with direct actions. the idea of artists as labors is questionable. its voluntary (not sure if I understood this correctly)

– discussion/education can happen within the context of direct action. actions can be teach-ins as well. actions that build solidarity. can we brainstorm?

Consensus to brainstorm

– expresses hesitancy to engage in direct action, worry about creating negative relationships that can get in the way of career opportunities

A.K – that has never been a problem for W.A.G.E. We stress self-advocacy. It is always good to ask for $ or a fee. If they say no, you can still participate. But the more you ask, the more it puts it in people’s minds that fees should be part of the show.
K8- The point is you have a choice. You are not bound to work for free. If you want to that’s fine, but its up to you.

– Point of process. Do we still want to brainstorm direct actions?

A.K. – poster campaign
The poster campaign is to bring awareness of the arts labor issues to the general public.. Because their is a big discrepancy between artists, their needs and what the public believe or feel the role of an artist is on our society. This could be a campaign co-sponsored by WAGE. Possibly something similar to what this group did in California:

– violation tickets that we can hand out to .orgs
– interest in targeting the idea of the unpaid intern. there are laws that guide what constitutes an unpaid internship.
K8- one idea people have been talking about is changing the language of intern to “volunteer”
Josh- that has its own kind of associations.
K8- yeah. but one idea would be to come up with another word that is more descriptive.
– I like Alma’s idea of storytelling. i know so many people that work in the arts. can we create a safe-space for people to tell their stories. maybe a website that lets people out their .orgs?

– i think an education pamphlet might be a good idea. would read it if someone gave it to me at an opening.

– Be anonymous? The Guerrilla Girls were able to do what they did because they were anonymous.
AK- W.A.G.E has always been transparent. Its never been a problem. Power in numbers. We make this an entity under OWS- not related to a specific set of individuals
Blithe- thats where the idea of coalition is powerful again

8:15- should we wrap?
– lets reach out to others and invite them to our next meeting Tuesday at 7:30
– W.A.G.E. We will post to facebook and our mailing list.

Good meeting first meeting! To be continued…

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