Arts & Labor 2013 Strategy Discussion

Do you need two or three jobs to make ends meet? Do you run from one workplace to another, or juggle a series of temporary “gigs” throughout the year? Are you overworked? Is your boss also your peer? Are you owed money from an employer? Do you feel unsafe, abused and dispensable at your job? Do you feel like if you stand up for yourself, the future of your career is at risk? Are you worried about getting sick because you don’t have good health insurance or that you will never be able to retire? And if you do have a stable job, are the benefits dwindling? Do you want to make change but don’t how?

Arts & Labor presents a two-part discussion series, bringing together workers, community organizers and culture producers to discuss how precarious conditions are impacting our culture at large. Moderated by Tammy Kim with an introduction by Arts & Labor, we will learn how worker centers, arts organizations, coalition groups, and independent workers are developing strategies to build community and labor power, more equitable work environments, and a just and habitable city for all people.

DAY 1:  Workers Unite!
Monday, January 7, 2013. 7 p.m.
334 Broome St, Manhattan

Members of worker centers, unions, and coalition organizations share how to create infrastructure and build leverage within industries and communities that are traditionally considered difficult to organize. With workers from Domestic Workers United, Taxi Workers Alliance, Teamsters Local 814 (Art Handlers from Sotheby’s campaign), Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN).


DAY 2: Strategies for the Arts
Thursday, January 10, 2013. 7 p.m.
CUNY Murphy Institute
18th Floor, 25 W 43 St, Manhattan

Members of the arts community respond to the Day 1 discussion, and talk about strategies used to build community, advocate for artists and create sustainable institutions. They will also examine the challenges and strengths in navigating their roles as activists, precarious workers, job providers, and culture producers. With workers from Queens Museum, Creative Capital, ProjectProjects, and WAGE.

Support Arts and Labor


Dear Art Workers and Supporters,

A little over a year ago, a group of artists, writers, educators, art handlers, designers, administrators, curators, assistants, and students came together within the Occupy Wall Street movement to form a working group called Arts & Labor.  Sharing a mutual dissatisfaction with how the art economy functions and treats its workforce, and self-identifying as “art workers,” we sought a space to learn, share knowledge, articulate our grievances, organize, and build alternatives to the art world and the world at large.

Since then, we have organized teach-ins, roundtables, reading groups, direct actions, dance parties, and protests. We have made buttons and t-shirts, created visual materials to support OWS-wide actions, and written collaborative statements highlighting issues central to the movement. We have produced workshops exploring the invisible forms of labor on which art economies depend, underscoring the necessity of collaboration even for solo art practices. We have connected the exploitation of art workers to the rise of the speculative art market. We have called for an end to uncompensated labor in the form of unpaid internships. We have articulated the ways in which the culture industry echoes the growing inequality of our society, while at the same time taking on the hard and slow task of collectively envisioning new possibilities for art workers to challenge the systems we inhabit.

As we enter our second year, we continue to develop and expand this work, while at the same time experimenting with new forms of public engagement. Until now we have financed our activities ourselves by passing the hat at meetings and events. For the first time, we are reaching out to ask for donations from our friends, colleagues, and supporters. Your donation will help us pay speaker fees, print publications, provide childcare during meetings and events, and purchase the necessary materials for collaborative art-making and agitprop production. 100% of the donations we receive will go directly toward projects dedicated to building community and ending exploitation in the art world and beyond. We are in this for the long haul.

Arts & Labor believes in mutual aid. Please lend your support so that we can continue fighting against and exploring alternatives to the structures that oppress us all. We are all connected; we are all in this together. Another (art) world is possible.

To make a donation, click here:

In Solidarity,
Arts & Labor

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.

Continue reading

A Talk with Yasmin Ramirez

The Legacy of the Puerto Rican Art Workers Coalition: A Talk with Yasmin Ramirez

December 12, 2012
Taller Boricua, 1680 Lexington Ave. NYC

In the late 1960s, art workers in New York City came together to demand reforms to the exploitive and exclusionary practices of the art world. The Puerto Rican Art Workers Coalition (PRAWC), founded in 1970, followed the 1969 formation of the Art Workers Coalition (AWC), a group aimed at pressuring city museums into implementing policies such as paying artists for exhibiting their work, better representation of art by women and people of color, and free admission. Members of PRAWC were active in founding El Museo del Barrio (1969), and fought to establish institutions that reflected the culture and needs of Latino artists in New York City.  Continue reading

November 28, 2012

Meeting tech stuff
Vibe check general
Report backs

Agenda items:
II. BC proposal- labor talk
III. Eblast
IV. Sf proposal
V. Artist collective
VI. Reader
VII. Alt econ
VIII. All in the red cooper U
IX. art matters grant feedback discussion
X. last add: AS2 about $100 we raised.

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October 23, 2012

Report backs and announcements:

  • Entrepreneurship and Exploitation in the Music Industry (October 18)
  • Occupy Museums talk at Momenta
  • Art Writing as Craft, Labor, and Art: A&L roundtable (October 25)
  • Organizer training at ALIGN (October 30)
  • Mapping the Workplace
  • Intern Group


  • Book Club
  • SF curator request to develop the Five Ways to Act project
  • Weekly A&L meeting schedule Continue reading

Art Writing as Craft, Labor, and Art: An Arts & Labor Roundtable

Art Writing as Craft, Labor, and Art: An Arts & Labor Roundtable
Thursday October 25 at 7 p.m.
Housing Works Cafe and Bookstore
126 Crosby Street New York, NY
Admission: a book donation to Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

Art writing is hard work. However, it is often framed as a mythic activity, replete with benefits such as “the power of the pen,” the authority of the critic, and the allure of earning a living while doing something exciting, and meaningful. Continue reading