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.

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
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[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 & 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!


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.


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

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.

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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

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 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