Statement of Solidarity – On the Payment of Artists

Since mid-March 2020 MANO has been meet­ing with mem­ber orga­ni­za­tions and media arts groups from across Cana­da to dis­cuss the impacts of the COVID-19 cri­sis. This work includes numer­ous sub-com­mit­tees and affin­i­ty groups address­ing spe­cif­ic issues, the clar­i­fi­ca­tion of pay scales for the dis­sem­i­na­tion of artists work online has been one group. This state­ment of sol­i­dar­i­ty frames the begin­ning of this process, it is a start­ing point, and will evolve along with our learn­ing. 

The Media Arts Net­work of Ontario affirms:

The COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has rad­i­cal­ly trans­formed both every­day life and the expe­ri­ence of art­works. For media arts the loss of col­lec­tive, real life, shared expe­ri­ences of view­ing, lis­ten­ing, feel­ing has chal­lenged us as artists, col­lec­tives, orga­ni­za­tions, and audi­ences. 2020 has been a year in art marked by can­ce­la­tions and post­pone­ments, along­side online fes­ti­vals and gath­er­ings that have kept con­nec­tions and built new ones.

It is in this con­text, of sep­a­ra­tion, uni­ty, uncer­tain­ty, and mutu­al aid that we issue this state­ment. For many artists, col­lec­tives, and arts orga­ni­za­tions post­pone­ment and can­ce­la­tion have cre­at­ed finan­cial crises, as bills and exhi­bi­tions are deferred we fear the end of the pause when the pent up demands of work and finan­cial pres­sures will peak. These pres­sures are not equal­ly dis­trib­uted, when we say “we are all in this togeth­er”, we are not all speak­ing of the same “we” or same “this”. Those car­ry­ing priv­i­lege do not expe­ri­ence a cri­sis in the same way as those with­out, and the ques­tion of who is pri­ori­tised or over­looked in respons­es and exit plans must be at the cen­tre of our analy­sis.

In reflex­ive sol­i­dar­i­ty we will:

-   Pri­or­i­tize the post­pone­ment of pre­sen­ta­tions over can­ce­la­tions.

-   Work with artists and oth­er stake­hold­ers to deter­mine the appro­pri­ate­ness of online pre­sen­ta­tion options, and always ensure trans­paren­cy of terms and the con­sent of the artist in online pre­sen­ta­tions.

-   Ensure the uni­ver­sal pay­ment of gen­er­ous artist fees for work pre­sent­ed online, above the min­i­mum stan­dards for offline pre­sen­ta­tion.

-   Work towards all online pro­gram­ming is in com­pli­ance with web acces­si­bil­i­ty stan­dards includ­ing the Web Con­tent Acces­si­bil­i­ty Guide­lines (WCAG).

-   Advo­cate for access to broad­band in all regions of Cana­da, along with pro­grams to sup­port cap­i­tal expens­es for arts orga­ni­za­tions build­ing online capac­i­ty.

-   Com­mit to the process of work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly to update exist­ing rec­om­mend­ed fee sched­ules for online pre­sen­ta­tion, based on cur­rent learn­ings from the COVID cri­sis in col­lab­o­ra­tion with stake­hold­ers across the Cana­di­an media and visu­al arts sec­tors.

This state­ment of sol­i­dar­i­ty aims to high­light and strength­en the rich media arts ecol­o­gy, sup­port­ing and advo­cat­ing on behalf of the val­ue and rights of artists. As the media arts sec­tor con­tin­ues to exper­i­ment with routes through the cur­rent cri­sis, we will remain com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­al­ly improv­ing our ways of work­ing and being togeth­er.