Celebrating 40 Years of DACS

Exploring the importance of artist rights: past, present and future

The way artists create, distribute and sell their work, and how they sustain their livelihoods, is constantly changing, and it has perhaps never been harder or more precarious to sustain a career. DACS’s 40th anniversary programme 40 Years of Artists’ Rights brings together artists, campaigners, arts organisations, galleries and thought leaders in the field of IP rights, to explore the critical challenges facing artists in 2024 and beyond, looking to the next 40 years of artists’ rights.

Discussions will cover how the sector can campaign and advocate for better working conditions for artists, how artist-led organisations are reshaping the mechanisms of the art world to give greater agency to artists, and how the sector is responding to the challenges and opportunities presented by rapidly evolving technologies. With panellists including Fatoş Üstek, Kuba Szreder and Evan Ifekoya.

2024 marks 40 years since DACS – the Design and Artists Copyright Society – was established by a group of artists and lawyers to stand up for artists, ensure fair pay and safeguard their copyright. DACS has distributed more than £240 million in royalties to date and to mark this milestone, DACS is convening a series of panel discussions at Shoreditch Arts Club, focused on the past, present and future of artists’ rights. The exclusive media partner for the event programme is ArtReview.

All events are free, but booking is essential. Book here.

“ArtReview is pleased to partner with DACS on this exploration of the critical issues facing artists in 2024 and beyond.” – Mark Rapport, Editor in Chief, ArtReview

Tuesday 11 June, 6.30pm – 8pm
Panel One: Artists’ Rights: Sustaining artists now and in the future

The series will begin with a panel exploring the current climate for artists in the UK, how we got here, and where we may go to next. How can we create better conditions for artists, from commission and contracts to rights, royalties and legacies?

Panellists: Fatoş Üstek, Independent Curator and Co-Director, FRANK Fair Artist Pay; Charlotte Warne Thomas, Artist; Russell Martin, Artquest; Christian Zimmermann, CEO, DACS.

Chaired by Henry Broome

Tuesday 18 June, 6.30pm – 8pm
Panel Two: Collectives: Reshaping the art world

Panel two will explore the ways in which artists and artist-led initiatives are harnessing the power of collective action to improve conditions for artists and the wider sector.  What new models for artist support should we be calling for?

Panellists: Jonny Tanna, Founder, Harlseden High Street; Evan Ifekoya, Artist and co-founder, Black Obsidian Sound System; Kuba Szreder, Independent Curator; Reema Selhi, Head of Policy and International, DACS.

Chaired by Francesca Gavin, Artistic Director, viennacontemporary and Editor in Chief, EPOCH Review.

Tuesday 25 June 6.30pm – 8pm
Panel Three: Art & Tech: Protecting Artists and Enabling Creativity

Panel three will explore the wide-reaching impact of new technologies on artistic practice and the ways in which we experience art. In a rapidly changing environment, how to we ensure the artist is supported and their rights are protected?

Panellists: Serpentine Gallery Creative AI Lab; Bernadine Bröcker Wieder, CEO, Arcual; Reema Selhi, Head of Policy and International, DACS.

Chaired by Fi Churchman, Editor, ArtReview.

Alistair Small, Communications and Engagement Lead, DACS

Panellist Bios

Fatoş Ustek is an independent curator and writer. She is the author of The Art Institution of Tomorrow, Reinventing the Model (2024), curator of Frieze Sculpture, London and Co-Founder & Managing Director for FRANK Fair Artist Pay and Curator of Conrad Shawcross’ largest UK survey exhibition Cascading Principles at the Mathematical Institute, Oxford University. Ustek sits on multiple governance roles and nomination boards. She is Chair of New Contemporaries, sits on the Advisory Board of Urbane Kunste Ruhr and Editorial Advisory Board of Extra Extra Magazine. She was previously Director of the Liverpool Biennial, Director of the Roberts Institute of Art, Curator of Art Night, 2017, London and Associate Curator of the 10th Gwangju Biennial, South Korea. In 2015 she was the Art Fund Curator at fig-2, a ground-breaking project which presented 50 projects in 50 weeks at the ICA, London.

Charlotte Warne Thomas is an artist, lecturer and writer based in London. She works to raise awareness of structural barriers to access in the art world for those with protected characteristics, and advocates for more caring and sustainable systems of supporting artists’ livelihoods. She was consultant editor for the recent Structurally F-cked report by Industria (published by a-n, 2023), and has written for Art Review and DACS, and undertaken research on artists’ pay and conditions for Artquest and the think tank Autonomy. Charlotte has an MFA from Goldsmiths and is currently a practice-based PhD candidate at Kingston University (AHRC funded). She works as Associate Lecturer at Norwich University of the Arts and is co-founder of crit group Peer Sessions, currently in residence at Chisenhale Gallery, offering supportive feedback to artists outside of formal education settings.

Russell Martin is a visual artist, writer and arts administrator from Glasgow, based in London since 1998. Over a varied career he has co-organised and curated interdisciplinary arts events and exhibitions, taught about career development in the creative industries, worked as an artist on independent residencies and workshops, led gallery education projects, and maintained a fragmentary, ongoing and idiosyncratic career as an artist. Since 2001 Russell’s art practice has been sustained working part-time for Artquest, a free advice and career development service for visual artists, backed up by research and data activity to evidence artists working conditions, barriers and ambitions.  Artquest is a public programme of University of the Arts London supported by Arts Council England.

Henry Broome is a writer and critic, with a particular focus on public art and community. He also writes on culture sector collective organising and freelance labour. He is a UK Correspondent for Flash Art and he has bylines in Art Monthly, Tribune and BOMB Magazine. Henry has produced policy and advocacy writing for DACS as well as KEA European Affairs and public art think tank ixia.

Jonny Tanna is a North-West London native and the Director of Harlesden High Street, a BIPOC led gallery space. Harlesden High Street was founded in 2020 with the mission of facilitating access between experimental/outsider artists and the traditional gallery system. Working across several spaces in London, the gallery exhibits contemporary art by both local and international artists with a focus on exhibiting work by people of colour. In addition to its gallery programme, Harlesden High Street also hosts a cultural outreach programme with an aim to engage audiences in un-gentrified neighborhoods, through workshops, talks and artist initiatives. In 2023, Tanna also co-founded Minor Attractions, an inclusive micro-fair that gives access to both London and international galleries during Frieze London art week

Evan Ifekoya is an interdisciplinary artist working in community organising, installation, performance, sound, text and video, whose practice is an extension of their calling as a spiritual practitioner. They view art as a site where resources can be both redistributed and renegotiated, whilst challenging the implicit rules and hierarchies of public and social space. Through archival and sonic investigations, they speculate on blackness in abundance.  Strategies of space holding through architectural interventions, ritual, sonic installations and workshops enable them to make a practice of living in order not to turn to despair. They established the collectively run and QTIBPOC (queer, trans*, intersex, black and people of colour) led Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S.) in 2018. They were awarded the Paul Hamlyn bursary in 2021, the Kleinwort Hambros Emerging Artists Prize in 2019 and the Arts Foundation Award for Live Art sponsored by the Yoma Sasberg Estate in 2017. Their works are held in a number of public collections including Arts Council England, Walker Art Gallery Liverpool and Migros Museum Zurich. They have presented exhibitions, moving image and performances across UK, Europe and Internationally, most recently: Lagos Biennial, ICA VCU and MAK Los Angeles (2024), ARoS Denmark and Guest Artist Space Lagos (2023), a solo exhibition at Migros Museum, Zurich and a moving image commission with LUX in collaboration with University of Reading (2022); Herbert Art Gallery and Museum as nominees of the Turner Prize (with B.O.S.S. 2021); Gus Fischer New Zealand (2020); De Appel Netherlands (2019) and Gasworks London (2018).

Kuba Szreder is a researcher, curator, and a lecturer at the Academy of Fine Art in Warsaw. He cooperates with artistic unions, consortia of postartistic practitioners, clusters of art-researchers, art collectives and artistic institutions in Poland, UK, and other European countries. He is editor and author of several catalogues, books, readers, book chapters, articles and manifestos, in which he scrutinizes the social, economic, and theoretical aspects of the expanded field of art. Current research interests include conditions of artistic labour, new models of artistic institutions, artistic self-organization, artistic research, postartistic theory and practice. In 2021 his book “The ABC of the projectariat: living and working in a precarious art world” was published by the Manchester University Press and the Whitworth.

Francesca Gavin is the Artistic Director of viennacontemporary which takes places this September and Editor in Chief of EPOCH Review ( Gavin has written ten books on art and visual culture and curated exhibitions including Mushrooms at Somerset House, The Dark Cube at Palais de Tokyo, and co-curated Manifesta11. Gavin is a contributing editor at Twin and Beauty Papers, and regularly writes for publications including the Financial Times HTSI, Cura, Marie Claire and Frieze. She has a monthly radio show Rough Version on NTS Radio on art and music which has been running for over 8 years.

A prominent thought leader in the art and tech community, Bernadine Bröcker Wieder is the CEO of Arcual, a technology company building the next generation of digital infrastructure for the artworld. Bernadine has a track record of successful entrepreneurial ventures, including Vastari, a cloud-based platform to connect museums, producers and collectors for international exhibition collaborations, and Vastari Labs, a museum NFT consultancy. Bernadine co-organised the first Christie’s Art+Tech Summit in 2018 and has facilitated blockchain proof of concepts with Everledger since 2016. She is a member of PAIAM, AWITA and the Worshipful Company of Art Scholars, and is regularly featured in media outlets including Apollo, BBC, Rolling Stone, and more for her expertise.

Fi Churchman is Editor at ArtReview and ArtReview Asia

About DACS

Founded in 1984, DACS is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to championing, protecting, and managing the rights of artists and maximising their royalties. It envisions and works towards a society which recognises, respects, and values all artists. DACS collects and distributes royalties to artists, creators, and their beneficiaries. Every year, thousands of creators trust DACS to protect their rights and help them make money from their work. For 40 years, it has managed copyright licensing requests on behalf of its members. Since 2006, DACS has paid out over £125 million in Artist’s Resale Right royalties to artists and their estates, and over £75 million in collective licensing royalties since 1999 through its Payback scheme. | @DACSforArtists

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