A Win for Art Worker Solidarity!

Arts & Labor stands in solidarity with B &H Warehouse workers! photo by @rrraquiii / Instagram

Arts & Labor stands in solidarity with B &H Warehouse workers! photo by @rrraquiii / Instagram

Arts & Labor stands in solidarity with the warehouse workers at B&H!
Read more about warehouse workers fight for a union at B&H on Hyperallergic:

On Eve of Union Vote, Hundreds of Arts Professionals Sign Open Letter Supporting B&H Photo Workers by Claire Voon 11/3/15

In Landslide Vote, B&H Photo Workers Decide to Unionize by Claire Voon 11/4/15.

Radical Alternatives Think Tank Fall/Winter 2015


Pedal Power – OWS Sustainability at Zuccotti Park. November 2, 2011. CC BY 3.0 Shankbone

Radical Alternatives Think Tank: Meet-Ups
#1 Thursday, October 22nd, 7:30–9:00 p.m.
#2 Thursday, November 12th, 7:30–9:00 p.m.
#3 Thursday, December 10th, 7:30–9:00 p.m

FACEBOOK INVITE: Radical Alternatives Think Tank @Sunview Luncheonette

Sunview Luncheonette
221 Nassau Ave, Greenpoint Brooklyn | G Train to Nassau Ave – Google Map

This fall and winter, Arts & Labor’s Alternative Economies Working Group will be convening at Sunview Luncheonette to discuss the cultural-political landscape in New York City. We invite artists, activists, cultural workers, community members, and anyone who is interested in joining our “think tank” and brainstorm on how we can work together to find solutions to our current situation.

read more on the Alternative Economies Working group page

Alternative School of Art | CAA 2015 Workshop

Alternative School of Art? CAA 2015 Workshop

Alternatives workshop at Free University NYC, Cooper Union, May 1, 2013. 7 days before the school was occupied.

Time: Wednesday February 11, 9:00 am—1:00 pm
Event: Participatory Workshop & Discussion with invited artists and activists (TBA)

Location: College Art Association Annual Conference 2015
New York Hilton 1335 6th Ave, 2nd Floor,  Media Lounge

The economic and structural realities of art schools as they exist today can often be a source of anxiety and frustration for art students, faculty, and staff alike, so what might an alternative school of art look like? In this workshop the participants will familiarize themselves with over 30 alternative economic models that are in practice throughout the world today.

More info here…

Summer Session #3 Aug 10: Discussion + Potluck!

Hope you can join us this Sunday for our third session. This week we’ll be visiting two radical activist spaces in Brooklyn. First 4-6pm @ The Base, followed by a potluck  at 7pm @ Woodbine 1882 garden.

More info here:

Alternative Economies Working Group Summer Sessions Continue July 20

What do we mean by Alternative Art Economies? And what are we looking to find an alternative to?

Art Worker Formations: Unions, Guilds, & Cooperatives Summer

Session #2: Sunday, July 20th, 2014
5:00-7:00pm – Washington Square Park, at West 4th St. and Washington Square East (find us on the grass southeast of the fountain) *Rain location at Think Coffee, 248 Mercer St.

In this second session of Alternative Economie’s (a working group of Arts & Labor) summer series, we will discuss the history of Art Worker Formations (Unions, Guilds & Cooperatives), discuss labor in the culture industry – including past and present collectivization, and consider the common needs of an art worker in the United States and the viability of forming a union to address those needs.

More info + Readings…

Alternative Summer Sessions begin July 6

Alternative Summer Sessions start Sunday July 6….

What do we mean by Alternative Art Economies?
And what are we looking to find an alternative to?


Artist-Organized Alternative Spaces:
Reflections on the 60s–80s

Sunday July 6, 2014 – Walking + Reading Tour
4:00pm – Meet in front of  Carriage Trade**, 62 Walker St.
5:00pm – Meet in front of Artists Space**, 32 Green St., 3rd fl.

** We are making stops at these locations. 
** These locations are NOT affiliated with Arts & Labor or this Summer Series. Sorry for any confusion.

In this first session we will attempt to trace the history of “alternative spaces.” Through various site visits, essays, primary sources, news clippings, chronologies, and personal reflections, we will try to understand the context, possible motors, shifts the landscape, the people involved and their intentions. It’s also important to note that what we know about alternative spaces is still unfolding[...]

read more and download PDF readings:
Artist-Organized Alternative Spaces, July 6

Pack the CB11 meeting on 6/17!

TUES. 6/17 @6:30pm

EHCCI 413 East 120th St.


Frieze NY is a multi-million dollar annual art fair that takes place on Randall’s Island.

• Arts & Labor, an activist group that fights against economic inequality in the arts, has developed a community benefit agreement that demands Frieze NY give 1% of its revenue to artists & arts organizations in East Harlem and the South Bronx.

• Frieze’s stay on Randall’s Island will facilitate the exchange of millions of dollars in sales of contemporary art. We believe that Frieze has a responsibility to give back to the neighborhoods surrounding Randall’s Island to redress Frieze’s preclusion of recreational and other public uses on this land during its stay.

• On May 13, the Economic Development, Culture & Tourism Committee passed a resolution supporting the demand, providing that neighborhood representatives would take part in the distribution process for the money.

• On June 17, the full board will vote on whether to also support this resolution.


Frieze New York: 1% from the 1% Community Benefit


  • Brings in $8 million in revenue from gallery booth rentals alone.
  • Pays less than $1/sq foot on public park land on which it mounts its massive tent.


  • Have a median household income that is between $20,000 to $30,000 respectively, one-third of the cost of a booth rented by a blue chip gallery.
  • Have long been fighting against privatization and to keep Randall’s Island accessible to its local residents.


  • What if Frieze New York gave back to the neighborhoods that surround Randall’s Island in return for its takeover of public land?
  • What if Frieze New York redistributed the massive accumulation of wealth it participates in each year during the fair?
  • What if 1% of the estimated $8 million fair revenue were granted to artists and arts organizations in East Harlem and South Bronx?

For information about the details of the proposal, please contact owsartsandlabor@gmail.com

Frieze New York Related Protests and Solidarity Actions Timeline

Arts & Labor has put together this timeline to help the public understand the series of direct actions and political events that led to Frieze New York going Union. This victory was the result of actions carried out by a broad solidarity network over time.

Mid April 2012District Council of Carpenters set up first picket line at Frieze New York sponsor Deutsche Bank at headquarters on 60 Wall Street.
May 4-7, 2012: Unions including District Council of Carpenters and Teamsters Joint Council 16 put up picket line at Frieze New York.
May 8, 2012: Occupy Museums erects Freedom Cage at Frieze, part of the 2nd Free Art for Fair Exchange.
Mid April 2013Unions put up second picket line at Frieze New York sponsor Deutsche Bank headquarters on 60 Wall Street.

April 17, 2013: Arts & Labor issues a statement of support to Teamsters Joint Council 16, IATSE Local 829, IATSE Local 1 and District Council 9 of Painters to demand that Frieze hire union and local labor.
April 17, 2013: Unions deliver a press conference on the steps of the City Hall.
April 18, 2013: Paper Monument withdrew participation from Frieze New York in protest of Frieze’s New York’s labor practice.
May 1, 2013: As part of the May Day city-wide demonstration, Arts & Labor along with members 99 Pickets and Rude Mechanical Orchestra visit the Frieze office to demand that the art fair negotiate with the unions.
May 2, 2013: City Council holds a hearing about Frieze Art Fair. Unions, community groups, and a Arts & Labor member give testimony.
May 5, 2013: Arts & Labor renames Frieze New York Art Fair, Frieze New York RAT FAIR.
May 6, 2013: Arts & Labor issued a letter to participating artists, galleries and attendees, along with panelists speaking at Frieze New York programs. A handful of members from the arts community contact the Frieze organizers in support of union demands.
May 8, 9, 10 2013: Union Coalition sets up picket line once again. Politicians including John Lui, Melissa Mark Viverito and Scott Stringer attend rally.
May 9, 2013: Andrea Bowers posts a letter criticizing Frieze’s labor practices next to her work in Susanne Vielmetter and Kaufman Repetto’s booths. That night, the letter is removed without the artists consent.
May 10, 2013: Andrea Bowers letter is re-posted.
May 10, 2013: Suzanne Lacy and Nato Thompson give Teamsters and Arts & Labor 10 minutes during their panel to read a statement. Despite an initial agreement, Teamsters are not allowed to speak last minute, forcing Arts & Labor to deliver both statements.
May 11, 2013: Arts & Labor and members of 99 Pickets carries out a series of direct actions inside the fair to inform the public and participating galleries about Frieze’s labor practices. Tactics include leafleting, mic checks, air horns, rat masks, and t-shirts.
September 2013: Arts & Labor begins outreach to arts & community groups surrounding Randall’s Island.
October 3, 2013: Parks hearing convened by Melissa Mark Viverito with emphasis on Frieze. Viverito represents District 8 which is home to Randall’s Island. Teamsters and Carpenter unions testify.
November 5, 2013: Bill De Blasio elected Mayor

January, 2014: Melissa Mark Viverito named Speaker of City Council.
January, 2014: Teamsters reach out to Randall’s Island Park Alliance to inquire the status of Community Board involvement and timing of permits. Frieze hires Capalino & Company to represent them in discussion with Unions.
February 3, 2014: Artists spark a twitter storm around #strikefriezeny
February 28, 2014: Frieze New York and union negotiations become public. Arts & Labor further raises awareness through social media.
March 7, 2014: Arts & Labor meets with Frieze.
March 2014: Unions and Frieze continue to negotiate a contract.
April 9, 2014: Frieze New York announces it will hire union for the construction of the 250,000 square foot tent starting 2015.

Solidarity Wins! Frieze New York Goes Union

For Immediate Release
Contact: owsartsandlabor@gmail.com

Unions, including Teamsters Joint Council 16 and IATSE, reached an agreement with Frieze New York regarding its hiring practices. This year, the art fair will hire some union labor to construct the fair’s tent on Randall’s Island. Starting in 2015, Frieze New York has committed to hiring 100% union labor. We applaud Frieze’s effort in supporting fair labor practices and its long-term commitment to set an example for the rest of the industry.

Arts & Labor has stood in solidarity with the unions throughout this effort. Our tactics have included a series of direct actions both inside and outside the fair, a letter writing campaign, and the raising of awareness via social media. We also want to acknowledge the vital support of artists Suzanne Lacy and Andrea Bowers, curator Nato Thompson, and many others. We thank everyone who put their reputation on the line to create room for discussion when there was none and who created a platform for workers to speak up. We celebrate this victory as a step in the right direction toward a more just art industry and see it as an effective demonstration of the impact of solidarity networks.

While this as an essential step, we know it is not enough. There will still be many art workers who will be paid poorly and treated unfairly during the time that Frieze New York is in our city. We hope that this victory provides inspiration for all of us to continue to fight for better working conditions. For Arts & Labor, this emboldens us for the work ahead and in our goal of ending exploitation for all art workers.

The fact remains that the Frieze New York art fair is a for-profit, multimillion-dollar enterprise that takes place on city parkland surrounded by residential areas with household incomes that are less than half of the citywide median. We believe that Frieze has a responsibility to give back to our city in exchange for generating vast amounts of wealth that only benefits the very wealthiest collectors and investors on public park land. We will continue to engage Frieze in conversation about how they might redress the impact of their presence and contribute to the city beyond the false, “trickle-down” paradigm of tourist-oriented economic development.

In that spirit, Arts & Labor would like to invite you to our next public meeting for a full report back on this campaign and a discussion of where to go from here.

Join us!
Tuesday, April 15 , 7-9pm
33 W 14th Street (Basement), Manhattan

* Additionally, workers from Utrecht Art Supplies who recently voted to unionize with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union will also share their journey to victory.