Valued at £101.5 billion in 2019, the UK’s creative industries are booming. The contemporary art market is a huge part of this success, but the benefits are not being felt by artists.
Visual artists have an average annual income of £5,000. Royalties pay for studio space and materials, helping them to continue creating the artworks our art market depends on.
Artists’ estates use royalties to fund essential but labour-intensive activities such as cataloguing, archiving and restoration; maintaining culture for future generations.
Since 2006, DACS has paid over £80 million in Resale Right royalties for artists and their estates. We must secure this source of income for artists.
Let’s show that the art world is united in support of artists.
What is the Artist’s Resale Right?
The Artist’s Resale Right is a royalty that provides fair and essential income for artists when their work is resold (it is not applicable the first time a work is sold) through an art market professional.
An art market professional could be a gallerist, art dealer or auction house.
It is widely accepted that a musician will continue to make money, through royalties from a song or album, years after its release. Royalties can be made from radio, TV or cinema. Artist’s Resale Right royalties apply this principle for visual artists: it gives them an ongoing stake in their work and its increasing value.
How do artists get their royalties?
This is where DACS comes in. DACS is a not-for-profit organisation that takes care of artist’s rights. We collect artists’ royalties and pay them. Since Artist’s Resale Right came into UK law in 2006, DACS has paid over £80 million to artists or their heirs.
That’s £80 million straight into the pockets of artists and heirs, keeping them making or maintaining artworks for everyone to enjoy.
How do Artist’s Resale Right royalties support our art market and creative economy?
The UK creative industries are hugely significant to the UK economy, valued at £101.5 billion in 2019. Our art market accounts for roughly 10% of this and it’s growing. UK artists underpin this success.
The Artist’s Resale Right supports our creative economy by paying artists and keeping them making the artworks that feed our thriving art market. In 2017, DACS paid out £15.3 million in royalties, of which £9.5 million was Artist’s Resale Right royalties. This is comparable to £11.9 million of Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts given to visual artists in the same year.
Who benefits from Artist’s Resale Right Royalties?
Artist’s Resale Right royalties benefit artists at all career stages. The number of artists receiving the royalty increases every year. On average we pay 32 new artists or estates each month.
Artists operate as small business enterprises, ranging from a single person to 20 people in a shared studio. The shocking fact is that most artists in the UK earn less than £5,000 a year. The Artist’s Resale Right generates much-needed payments as part of a wider portfolio of income sources. It helps keep artists making art works, and it helps estates of deceased artists to maintain important cultural legacies.
Over half of the artists we pay Artist’s Resale Right royalties to exclusively sell works for £5,000 or less. Not for millions of pounds like the headline grabbing sales we sometimes read about – these are actually very rare.
What do people do with their royalties?
Our surveys tell us that 81% of artists who received Artist’s Resale Right royalties use the income to pay for living expenses; 73% for art materials; and 63% for studio space.
For artists’ estates, royalty payments fund laborious yet essential tasks such as authenticating works, providing provenance information, and compiling catalogues raisonnés.
Of the artists’ estates responding to our surveys, 32% said they used royalties for cataloguing work; 25% for promoting the artist; and 22% for general administration of the estate.
How does DACS know which sales galleries and auction houses are making?
Galleries and auction houses do have a legal obligation to provide this information, but many are motivated by a desire to support artists.
Some information, like auction sales, is publicly available. DACS also works hard to make the reporting process as easy as possible.
We provide clear guidance which artworks are eligible for Artist’s Resale Right royalties, as well as a free royalty calculator service. We do not request any information that isn’t readily available to galleries and auction houses i.e. the title of work, date of sale, price.
Building strong relationships with art market professionals is our top priority, and we are always happy to support their sale submissions. We want the process to be as simple as possible for them.
Header image: Francis Bowyer’s studio, 2019 © Anne Purkiss.