Organizing for Frieze NY 2014

It’s that time of year again. The great white spaceship of an art fair, Frieze NY, prepares for its descent on Randall’s Island, bringing with it some of the biggest galleries and richest collectors from around the world.

Last year, Arts & Labor launched a campaign in solidarity with 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 in the construction of its tent. We continue to organize as a coalition around these demands.

In 2014, Arts & Labor will continue to advocate for union jobs and against exploitative conditions for all art workers at the fair. Arts & Labor also demands that Frieze NY, a multimillion dollar operation held in a public park, support the surrounding neighborhood-based arts communities.

• Last year Frieze hired the company Production Glue to construct its massive tent. Production Glue refused to hire local and union, and instead brought in workers from as far away as Wisconsin, paying them a fraction of the wages that NYC workers receive.
• Frieze takes place on public park land and pays less than $1/square foot (this may be the cheapest rent in all of NYC)
• Frieze is inaccessible for many New Yorkers with its ticket prices of $44/person.
• Randall’s Island is managed by a public-private partnership called the “Randall’s Island Park Alliance” (RIPA)
• There is a longstanding fight against privatization and to keep Randall’s Island accessible to the surrounding neighborhoods of East Harlem and the South Bronx. There is a comprehensive of this history on East Harlem Preservation’s website.

Arts & Labor 2013 Actions
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.
May 1, 2013: Arts & Labor storms the Frieze office on Mayday with a marching band demanding that Frieze negotiate with the unions (unfortunately due to the high-stress nature of this action there was no documentation!)
May 2, 2013: Arts & Labor participates in a public hearing about the Frieze Art Fair in front of city council.
May 5, 2013: Arts & Labor renames Frieze NY, Frieze NY RAT FAIR
May 6, 2013: Arts & Labor issues a letter to panelists speaking at the Frieze NY Art Fair and to participating artists, galleries and attendees. A number of participating artists and members of the public contacted the Frieze organizers to demand fair pay and union jobs at the event.
May 10, 2013: Arts & Labor & The Teamsters speak on Suzanne Lacy and Nato Thompson panel. The Teamsters are not allowed to speak at the last minute, and Arts & Labor reads statement for them (view raw footage here and skip to 15:40).
May 11, 2013: Arts & Labor does a series of direct actions inside the fair that include rat masks, flyers, air horns and mic checks  to inform the public and participating galleries about conditions at the fair. (photos below)

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!

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.
April 16, 2013   
Contact: Michael McKeon
(212) 681-1380


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

Debt Squares! Visualizing Debt Together

Nearly everyone is affected by debt, from recent graduates paying hundreds of dollars in interest on their students loans every month, to working families bankrupted by their medical bills, to those taking out payday loans at 400% interest to cover basic living costs, to the teachers and firefighters forced to take pay cuts because their cities are broke, to countries pushed into austerity and poverty by structural adjustment programs.

There is a movement building across the country of debt resistance. Many are mobilizing against the condition of debt, and the servitude and destruction that goes along with it. As part of this mobilization, people have begun to share their debt stories. These conversations make us realize that it is the system that is responsible for our shared condition. We are not alone.

you are not a loan

Another way of looking at debt in contrast to the feelings of financial paralysis it causes, is the idea of “indebtedness.” Not all debt is bad. There are also positive ways that debt that functions in society—being indebted can create social bonds and manifest itself in relationships through love, care and gratitude.  (i.e. think of the debt you owe to your friends or your parents.)

In a gesture of shared storytelling, Arts & Labor is initiating DEBT SQUARES, a community quilting project. We will be bringing this project into town squares, parks, and other spaces around New York City, inviting people to sew together, discuss, and visualize our shared condition of debt. The first sessions will begin in Washington Square Park on September 15th and in Foley Square on September 16th.

Debtors Squares: Join the debt resistance movement!

For those that can’t join us, we invite you to tell your debt story by making your own DEBT SQUARE that will be added to the quilt. Send us your square!

Arts & Labor
888 Newark Ave.
Studio #235
Jersey City NJ 07306

To contribute to this project please consider the following guidelines:
• SQUARES should be approx. 20” x 20”
• Use fabric that is fairly durable
• We have created a suggested color logic for you to consider while building your debt square:
RED = Student Debt / Education
YELLOW = Mortgage / Housing
GREEN= Credit Card / Commercial
BLUE= Medical
RAINBOW, PASTELS & PATTERNS = Love / Care / Friendship / Family, etc.

Note: These are just suggestions! Feel free to ignore this entirely and make your DEBT SQUARE square your own. 

Five Ways We Can Act

Five Ways We Can Act When we identify as ART WORKERS, we see ourselves within a larger economic system, and discover our power to shape it together.

Five Ways We Can Act:

1. Pay and be paid. When others profit from our work, why should we work for free? Ask for payment for presentations, exhibitions, performances, writing, internships and more. Likewise, if you have interns, assistants, or employees, pay them fairly!

2. Reconsider Value. Value Labor. When money is not an available currency, consider alternative compensation and negotiate other forms of exchange.

3. Share. Our resources can go much further when shared. Develop a spirit of mutual aid and interdependence within your community.

4. Build Solidarity. Reach out to fellow art workers and recognize their struggles and successes as your own. Connect, brainstorm, and act together.

5. Organize. Talk to fellow art workers, identify problems and strategize solutions. Go to a meeting, rally or teach-in. Get involved with Arts & Labor or start a group where you live. Stand up and speak out!

Report Back: Occupy The Land! Unconference

596 Acres workshop at The South Williamsburg Garden

This year the NYC Community Garden Coalition invited the working groups of Occupy Wall Street to help organize their first city-wde Community Garden Unconference. A member of Arts & Labor Alternative EconomiesMaking Worlds Commons Coalition  stepped up to organize a schedule of events for the Occupy the Land! Unconference, June 1-3. Continue reading

Media Advisory: Responds to OWS Letter Responds to OWS Letter
Revises Terms of Service for Postings of Internships
#OWS Arts& Labor Issues New Text for Job Board “Best Practices”

Click for PDF[New York, New York] June 19, 2012 –, the theater industry website, has responded to a call by Occupy Wall Street, Arts & Labor to end’s practice of posting classified ads for unpaid internships at for-profit companies by revising its Terms of Service. On April 19, 2012, declared its plans to “amend its terms of service informing all posters of all jobs of the NYS regulations that apply to internships.” Those changes have now been made and can be read here: Continue reading