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Fair Work for Artists: Below the Water-Line 


Saturday 10th November, 10am - 5pm

Venue – The Pier Arts Centre, Stromness

“Below the water-line” is taken from the metaphor of The Economy As An Iceberg, by feminist economists JK Gibson-Graham as a means of describing the diverse economic practices and unseen labour in our economy. (In Kind Project)

Many artists and craft makers work in isolation and face a complex array of practical, financial and social challenges in their working lives. Fair Work for Artists: Below the Water-Line is a one-day course developed for Scottish Artists Union members living and working in the Highlands & Islands.

This course will guide learners through different strategies to help them negotiate better contracts for their work alongside understanding the value held within their own creative practice. This intensive 1 day course will offer training in:

  • Effective negotiation of contracts and payments;
  • Rates of pay and how to price work appropriately;
  • Best practice approaches for arts organisations, businesses and community groups;
  • How to share the value of what you do with others;
  • Legal rights and intellectual copyright.

The course will also examine the feelings, judgment and stigma many artists have around income strategies and how to effectively navigate the choices available. The course will include in-depth training, presentations, open discussion and resources to take away.


Morning session – Let’s talk about money!

This workshop will examine how visual artists and makers receive payment, recognition and copyright protection for their work. It will include examples of issues faced when trying to negotiate payments and contracts with a range of different parties. Learners will be provided with clear strategies and contract guidance materials produced by Scottish Artists Union to support our members around challenging unfair work in their professional lives. 

Afternoon session – Value, Volunteering and In Kind

This workshop will feature a presentation on the In Kind research project by visual artists Janie Nicoll and Ailie Rutherford, which used Glasgow International 2018 as a case study. The project aimed at mapping the hidden economies of the visual arts and the “below the water-line” economy; charting the unseen and unaccounted efforts that enable art festivals like GI to take place, exploring unpaid labour, mutual support, favours and volunteer hours that go into making arts festivals happen. The learners will be given guidance on how to share the value of their work as well as training in identifying the right opportunities for them.


About the trainer: this course will be delivered by visual artist Janie Nicoll, who recently undertook 'In Kind Project' in collaboration with artist Ailie Rutherford. Janie has been an active contributor to the contemporary visual art scene in Scotland through involvements that include exhibiting, socially engaged projects, and education work. She has given talks and presentations at a variety of seminars and conferences including the Scottish Parliament and is a former president of the Scottish Artists Union. 


Friday social: for those traveling to Orkney on Friday 9th November, there is the opportunity for members to meet for a drink at the Pier Arts Centre from 5-6pm. The weekend is the highpoint of the Margaret Tait centenary events across venues in Stromness as part of the Film Focus Festival and Margaret Tait 100.

Thanks to the Pier Arts Centre for kindly supporting this event.

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