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.

Letter in Support of Embros from Arts & Labor Alternative Economies November 12, 2013, New York

We stand in solidarity with the Embros Theater community and condemn the persecution of the two performers arrested for rehearsing in the theater on October 31, 2013.  All charges brought against these individuals should be dropped and their court cases should be dismissed. [1]

The work that is currently being done at Embros embodies some of the most fundamental aspects of fostering a creative and responsive cultural space in which alternatives to the current system can be explored [2]. In this time of urgency and economic crisis around the world, Embros is forging new directions that should be enthusiastically supported and celebrated by the local and national government rather than aggressively repressed and threatened.

Culture is a basic sign of being alive, a space of reflection and growth, and most importantly it is the place where the processes that define democracy such as freedom of speech, expression, and criticality, is apparent in more ways than a set of law books can ever describe.  Governments from Russia to China, United States and Europe [3] seek to crush within its citizens the freedom of cultural expression. It has become apparent that the democratic, life-expressing aspects of art are being systematically repressed and commodified into pure spectacle and entertainment by these governments, institutional bureaucrats, and their capitalist cohorts. We will not stand-by as they reduce culture to an admission fee, VIP bonus, or something you can buy at the gift shop. We wish to dance, to perform, to visualize, to speak, all without being restricted by the amount of money we have or the so-called credentials and permits that these institutions have invented. Because for us, this is true freedom, this is true a democracy that no currency can equate.

Embros provides much needed free and open community space and brings people from all walks of life together to learn, engage, and create. Therefore, we ask artists and communities around the world to look closely and continue to follow these events as you would a canary in a coal mine, so that we may provide support for artists and cultural spaces when similar events that arise. Furthermore, these instances should provide a lens to reflect on the situation in our cities and to better understand the mechanisms of cultural control, repression, cooptation, and exploitation so that we can continue, through this solidarity network, to expose and ultimately overcome this political, economic, and cultural crises that has become the marker of our times.

Arts and Labor Alternative Economies Members

Maria Juliana Byck, Emily Baierl, Antonio Serna and Laurel Ptak
- – - -

[1] Communique from Embros on the Arrest of 2 performers. October 30, 2013

[2] On October 19, 2013, as part of ‘What Do We Do Now?’ the first annual Alternatives Fair in New York City, we invited members of Embros Theater to participate in an international panel on autonomous spaces. Through this panel we hoped to learn how autonomously run cultural spaces function to provide a more horizontal way to operate while remaining inclusive to all members in the community. From this exchange we learned how Embros’ organizing by way of a weekly general assembly has become a dynamic and invaluable community-run space in which creativity and innovation is encouraged to thrive.

‘What Do We Do Now? Alternative Fair’ was organized by Alternative Economies, a subgroup of OWS Arts and Labor. Alternative Economies working group explores alternative methods of sustaining the livelihood of artists, art-workers, and other communities interested in alternatives to the current system. We view the concept of labor through the lenses of time, choice, and value, and we research the ways that ideas like the commons, solidarity economies, precarious worker centers, and participatory budgeting can nurture more sustainable art worlds. Believing that vibrant creative communities come from the bottom up, we encourage relationships based on mutual aid rather than competition, and we advocate for cultural institutions rooted in a framework of social, economic, and environmental justice.

[3] Links to similar crack down on autonomous cultural spaces and artists:

ZAM is Culture, Eviction of ZAM by Milan Police, May 2013

Footage of Police Eviction of ZAM w/ minute by minute account, May 2013

Extreme show of force by of Swiss police at Basel, May 2013

“Art Makes Money” Communique from ‘Basel Will Be Occupied’ after the Art Basel raid

NY Police Arrest of artist in Brooklyn for Decorating the Street  “I (heart)nyc” bags, May 2012

The latest from A&L’s Intern Labor Rights working group

On June 11, 2013 Federal Judge William Pauley III ruled that former unpaid interns Alexander Footman and Eric Glatt were wrongfully classified during their work on the film Black Swan, and their “employer” Fox Searchlight was in violation of Federal and State minimum wage law:

Check out the post on the Intern Labor Rights site!

Arts and Labor, Teamster statements on Frieze New York

The following two statements from Arts & Labor and Teamsters Local 814 were presented at the Frieze New York panel with Nato Thompson and Suzanne Lacy on Friday, May 10, 2013.

  • To watch raw video footage of the statements, go here and skip ahead to 15:40.
  • Press coverage of the panel appearance is here and here.

Arts & Labor statement on Frieze New York

Thanks to Nato, and especially to Suzanne Lacy, for giving up some of their time on this panel so that we can speak. We respect Suzanne’s work and look forward to hearing her talk, so we will be brief. Suzanne’s longtime commitment to both art and activism brings us all here, and it is our shared sense of the importance of both that prompts us to make this urgent appeal regarding the conditions under which the Frieze art fair is constructed and run.

Arts & Labor is a self-organized group of art workers that includes artists, interns, writers, educators, art handlers, designers, administrators, curators, assistants, and students among other art workers. We came together during Occupy Wall Street to expose economic inequality and exploitative working conditions in our fields and oppose them through direct action and educational initiatives, building solidarity across class, educational, and professional divides.

We stand here today with organized labor to speak out against the inequitable hiring practices of the Frieze New York. Frieze is the only major NYC art fair to be built by non-union workers, now for the second year in a row.

The ground on which this tent stands is public: it belongs to us all. When we lend it to Frieze, we have an obligation to ensure that it serves the public good and not merely private profits. Frieze is renting this city park for less than $1 per sq ft, probably the lowest rent in all of NYC, even as millions of dollars are changing hands in art sales. The fair isn’t serving all New Yorkers: not only is the ticket price too expensive for many working people, but the facilities have been constructed and run by over 500 low-wage, non-union workers.

We urge you all to contact Frieze and demand that they use local and union labor, in order to ensure that workers are treated well and earn decent wages and benefits. The contact information for Frieze is on their website and on the flyers we are passing out.

We know that the fight against exploitation doesn’t begin or end with Frieze. But we are here today use because we believe that we MUST start holding art institutions, especially those like Frieze, accountable to the people who live and work here. The art economy must support its workers with living wage jobs that people can survive on— whether in the studio, in the office, in the gallery, or on the building site.
We love art, and want to see it flourish in our city, but we know that there is a better, fairer way to foster its growth. Thank you.


Teamsters Local 814 Statement on Frieze New York
Julian Tysh, Membership Coordinator from Teamsters Local 814, “the Home of NYC’s Professional Art Handlers”

Hi, my name is Julian and I’m a long-time art handler currently working as a union rep for Teamsters Local 814. Our union represents skilled professionals who work as art handlers, movers, and truck drivers. I’m here today, thanks to the support of Nato Thompson, who stood with the Sotheby’s workers when we were locked out, and thanks to Suzanne Lacy who was gracious enough to give us some time to speak today…thank you both so much. It’s deeply appreciated.

As a worker, as a trade-unionist, and as life-time lover and supporter of the arts, I’m glad to see that we are finally starting to have a bigger, and more dynamic, and more public conversation about the role of art in the economy, and about the role of art workers in that economy.

So as New York’s economy continues to transform, and as the arts continue to be a major engine for economic growth, we need to start making sure that local residents and local communities are benefiting from this economic activity instead of being hurt by it.

As most of you already know, we’re in the middle of a serious jobs crisis right now…in this country and in this city. So in the middle of this crisis, why is an organization like the Frieze using a local park but not hiring local workers? And if they’re paying way below market rent for public land, and making tons of profit from the sale of high-priced art, then why are they still using contractors that pay way below the area standards?

If New York is going to welcome the Frieze with open arms, and if New Yorkers are going to support the Frieze by buying tickets, going to their events and parties, and even by buying art there, then shouldn’t the Frieze begin, at the very least, by respecting local workers and the communities that depend on those workers?

Relationship needs to be based on mutual respect. Other art fairs in NY have shown respect for local workers by abiding by the standards that have long been set by our city’s unions. Why should the Frieze force art handlers and exhibition workers and carpenters, and other art fair workers to work below New York standards? Instead of using a city park, and city subsidies, to drive down wages and benefits, the organizers of this art fair should have the decency to honor the standards that workers in New York have had in place for decades.

Local artists, local workers, and local unions have already entered into a powerful partnership for a more creative, more sustainable, and above all a more socially responsible city. The question is: will the Frieze become part of that New York, OUR New York, or will they continue to profit at our expense? Will they understand finally, that it’s those of us who make the art, and who hang the art, and load the art, and drive the art, who make this city happen? Or will they continue to freeze us out?

Let me close by thanking you all for your time, and thanking those artists and individuals who have already called on the Frieze to do the right thing. Thank you again for listening and please tell the Frieze to come to the table with our city’s unions. Thank you again.

Arts & Labor and Unions to Speak Out at Panel with Suzanne Lacy and Nato Thompson

Rat in the Machine: Frieze NY Art FairArts & Labor and members of the Teamsters Joint Board 16 will read a statement of support for the labor struggle that is happening at the Frieze NY “Rat” Fair at the panel conversation between Suzanne Lacy and Nato Thompson at Frieze on Friday, May 10, at 4 PM. 

Join us and stand up for art worker rights—from the studio, to the office, to the building site!

HOW TO GET TO THE FRIEZE RAT FAIR

Facts About the Frieze NY “Rat” Fair

Print Out Flyers with these facts and hand them out at the Frieze NY Rat Fair! (quarter sheets)

• Frieze is a for-profit event that pays less than $1/ sq ft to lease city park land for two months.

• Frieze makes art inaccessible to many working New Yorkers with a ticket price of $42 per person.

• Frieze would rather bring in low-wage, non-union labor from WI, than pay NYers a living wage.

• Frieze is the only major NYC art fair using non-union labor to construct its fair.

TELL FRIEZE TO HIRE LOCAL & UNION!

Call the Frieze Office: 212 463 7488
Twitter: #FNY13 #FriezeRatFair @FriezeNewYork
artsandlabor.org

NYC Labor Leaders Demand that Frieze NY Art Fair Hire Local and Union

Arts & Labor supports Teamsters Joint Council 16, IATSE Local 829, IATSE Local 1 and District Council 9 of Painters in their demand for hiring local and union labor at Freize Art Fair as well as new permits that evaluate major profit events in NYC public parks.
CALL TO FREEZE FRIEZE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2013   
Contact: Michael McKeon
(212) 681-1380

LABOR LEADERS TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE ON FRIEZE NEW YORK ART FAIR AND CALL UPON ELECTED OFFICIALS TO CHANGE PARKS PERMITTING

Elected officials will join members of Teamsters Joint Council 16, IATSE Local 829, IATSE Local 1 and District Council 9 of Painters, at a press conference on the steps of City Hall Wednesday at 1:00 PM to confront the organizers of the Frieze New York Art show and their local events coordinator, Production Glue, LLC on their continuing discrimination against hiring New York City’s union workers.

Continue reading

Statement on the Occupation of The Cooper Union

December 11, 2012
We are Arts & Labor, a working group of Occupy Wall Street dedicated to rectifying economic inequalities and exploitative working conditions in the culture industry. We are a group of art workers that includes students, alumni, staff and faculty of art colleges and universities.

We stand in solidarity with The Students for a Free Cooper Union, and commend the bravery of their recent week-long occupation of the Peter Cooper Suite. Not only do we support the students’ previous demands for free tuition, transparency, and the resignation of the President, we applaud the recent decisions of the students to take action to meet those demands themselves. We believe that access to a free education is a human right that should be extended to all.

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Art Workers Unite! One Year Anniversary of OWS


Dear Art Workers and Allies,
September 17 is the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Working groups all over the city are planning actions, events, and discussions to honor the occasion. Arts & Labor is participating in full force throughout the three-day convergence and beyond with Free University from September 18th–22nd. We want to share our plans with you, and invite you to join us!

The overall flow of the weekend activities is as follows:


S15 Education

Washington Square Park, 5th Ave and Waverly. 10:30am–9pm
Full Schedule
Arts & Labor launches “Debt Squares” from Noon–3 pm.


S16 Celebration

Various Locations
Full Schedule
“Debt Squares” continues from Noon–3pm.


S17 Resist!

Start the day off bright and early with a series of nonviolent direct actions (varying levels of risk) around Wall Street.

Full Schedule
Download Action MAP! 

7am: Arts & Labor meets at the 99% Zone, at Liberty Park. Look for the Art Strike Sign! Alternate Location “The Red Cube” across the street.
7:30am: Solidarity with People’s Wall Peaceful Sit in around the stock exchange.
(Note: Arrestable Action)
8:30am: Arts & Labor Joins the “Labor Swirl,” a walking tour of Labor Targets on Wall Street.
Meeting Spot: 2 Broadway, across from the Bowling Green stop on the 4, 5.
11 am: Action General Assembly at South Ferry Terminal. 
GA to decide additional actions for the day.

Green Zone: A safe space to retreat and rest 
Foley Square, all day


TRAININGS

If you are interested in taking part in actions on the morning of S17, we strongly suggest you consider attending an action and legal training session.
Full List of Trainings


Stand With Occupy

Intellectuals, Academics, and Artists Call to Support OWS Anniversary Actions 

SUPPORT
Donate!
The Action Resource Fund helps Occupy Wall Street working and affinity groups get the resources they need to do the things they want on big days of action. Please contribute if you can.
Protect Occupy’s Right to Peaceably Assemble!
Sign the petition, watch and share this video.

STAY IN THE LOOP
OWS September 17 Website
Sign up for General OWS S17 updates via text message TEXT: “@S17NYC” TO 23559

Follow Arts & Labor on Twitter and Facebook

http://artsandlabor.org