Report Back: Another Art World Is Possible Workshop

Alternative Economies Another Art World Is Possible workshop, May 11, 2012 NURTUREart
Arts & Labor’s Alternative Economies Workshop at NURTUREart, Bushwick.

On Saturday, May 11th Alternative Economies facilitated a workshop as part of the “Cashing Out” exhibition curated by Petrushka Bazin Larsen at NUTUREArt in Bushwick.   A diverse group of roughly thirty artists came together to discuss our enchantments and frustrations with the art world as it exists, and to brainstorm how alternative economic models could be applied to the current system, or replace it altogether.

The workshop was structured into two parts.  In the first we listed what we liked and didn’t like about the art world.  Many agreed that we liked art, being artists, and the artist’s lifestyle.  We value the autonomy that being an artist affords, the opportunity to experiment with social forms, and the ability to create new, non-normative identities. On the other hand many expressed frustration with the art world’s exclusivity, it’s lack of transparency, exploitative working conditions, it’s resistance to organization, and it’s competitive individualism. We also disliked our powerlessness in the face of corporate media, and the ways that capital exploits art and artists for it’s own ends, including the use of artists as gentrifiers, and the use of art as a means to create financial gain within speculative markets.

In the second part of the workshop small groups discussed existing alternative economies and how these could be applied to the art world, in our own practices as artists, and to communal life.  Thirty-six ‘stepping-stones’ developed by the Center for Popular Economics were distributed among the groups.  Each ‘stepping-stone’ is a card which summarizes an alternative approach to the economy and gives examples of how it is currently being used in contemporary society.  These cards cover a wide range of examples including: legislative proposals such as the ‘Tobin Tax’ on financial transactions, social movements such as the Zapatistas and Brazilian Landless Workers Movement, co-operative forms such as producers co-ops, land trusts, fair trade and co-housing. The cards also gave examples of labor activist strategies such as worker’s centers and factory take-overs, and forms of communal resource management such as participatory budgeting, creative commons, and common property management, plus many more.

Much enthusiasm was generated as we discussed the possibilities of these new forms of practice and institution building.  The workshop was a great way to introduce ourselves to the range of possibilities that already exist and the implications for art and artists.

Alternative Economies is planning to put new economic models into practice. Anyone who is interested in working on a project that experiments with economic structures should come to our next meeting, Sunday June 30th at noon.  Contact us at al.altecon@gmail.com for more information. Now’s a good time to get involved as we’ll be brainstorming new projects to work on over the next year.

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.

Another Art World is Possible Workshop Saturday May 11th

Another Art World Is Possible - Workshop at NurtureArt May 11thArts & Labor’s Alternative Economies group will be facilitating a workshop this Saturday at NURTUREart in Bushwick:

Another Art World Is Possible
Arts & Labor’s Alternative Economies Workshop
NURTUREart 56 Bogart St, Brooklyn NY 11206
May 11, 2013 3-6pm

The economic and social realities of the art world as it exists can often be a source of frustration for artists, but what might an alternative model look like? In this workshop we’ll discuss the things we like and things we don’t like about the current art world. Then we’ll learn about various alternative models and discuss amongst ourselves how they can be applied to or replace the current system.

Facebook rsvp: Another Art World is Possible

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.

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What Do We Do Now? Booklet Launch: March 29th & 30th

What Do We Do Now? Alternative Economies Resource Guide For Living in New York CityWhat Do We Do Now?
Alternative Economies Resource Guide
Edition 1, Fall 2012

booklet launch at:
Building The Commons
Making Worlds Commons Forum 2
March 29th & 30th
Fri 6-10pm / Sat 10am-8pm

The Commons Brooklyn
388 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

*Children Welcome / Wheelchair Accessible / Free & Open to the Public*

Join us this Friday & Saturday for the first edition release of What Do We Do Now? Arts & Labor’s Alternative Economies Resource Guide. Input for subsequent editions is welcome; we plan to update periodically!

Over the course of several months in 2012, members of Arts & Labor’s Alternative Economies group decided to research and compile a list of alternative resources for living in New York. This resource guide contains examples of barter for health care programs, times banks, workers coops, community social services, alternative transportation advocates, and more. We are now ready to distribute the resource guide throughout the city at various events and with friends whose work forms part of building an alternative economy in New York City.

**A brief introduction to the guide will be made during Friday’s potluck Dinner 7-8pm & Saturday’s potluck Lunch Noon-1pm.**

Hope to see you there!
Arts & Labor Alternative Economies
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If you would like to host future releases or a workshop on alternative economies please contact us at al.altecon@gmail.com

Action Against Unpaid Internships at Fashion Week

Intern Labor Rights (New York), SUARTS (the Student Union of the University of Arts London) and Intern Aware (London) have come together in mutual support and solidarity. We invite your attention and critical eye to the widespread use of illegally unpaid workers in the fashion industry. This rampant wage theft, international in scope, is now being met with an international response:

PYI Button

In anticipation of our one-year anniversary, Intern Labor Rights is lovingly preparing hundreds of Intern Swag Bags to be given out at Fashion Week events over the February 8–10, 2013, weekend. To get your hands on an Intern Swag Bag, or to help us distribute, email us at intern.labor.rights@gmail.com and find out where we’ll be during the weekend. To track our progress follow #devilpaysnada and #payinterns on Twitter, or find us on Facebook.

For a peek into how this action is being covered in the press, check out this article on BuzzFeed: Occupy Movement To Protest Unpaid Internships At Fashion Week.

And to join in the fight for what’s right, to insist that those who profit from labor pay for its worth, to make your voice heard… email us and find out when and where our next weekly meeting will be, or join our group on Facebook.

Intern Labor Rights is supported in the New York Fashion Show “Pay Your Interns” initiative by SUARTS and Intern Aware, who are making London Fashion Week plans as part of the long-running and successful “Devil Pays Nada” campaign.

The following groups have committed to supporting each other in the global fight to end unpaid internships:pyi

  • Canadian Intern Association
  • Génération Précaire (Paris)
  • Geneva Interns Association
  • Hague Interns Association
  • Intern Aware (London)
  • Intern Labor Rights (New York City & Washington, DC)
  • Precarious Workers Brigade (London)
  • Students’ Union of University of the Arts London