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Artists Resale Right (ARR) is outdated, inefficient and expensive; benefits a few wealthy artists, and is a retroactive tax-like grab for heirs and their estates.

I cannot see how the occasional cheque for £300 or £50, can make the slightest iota of difference to an artists’ career, bar a packet of cigarettes and some petrol. It just cannot. Yes, it is nice to get a cheque for £50 or £300 out of the blue, but, if i'm right in my thinking, the administration involved at the lower end, costs more than the amount received.

It should also be noted, that there are a minimum of 295,000 Art Dealers in the world according to Dr. Clare McAndrew’s recent Art Market Report. With this healthy amount of dealers in operation, and if an artists’ work is of a calibre which can be sold and marketed, that artist should, in theory, be able to find, and be able to work with a dealer. Alternatively, we have the world-wide-web, which has opened up a whole new landscape for an artist to be able to market themselves, and connect with like minded people and sponsors.

I've read enough on the 'poor artist' theory, and, given the suggestions in a number of essays on the subject, that an artist in their career is at no disadvantage concerning income, to anyone else in ‘regular’ employment, the question is, why the special treatment? Also, the art dealers who I know, some of whom have been involved in the ARR debate in the United Kingdom, have never been ‘big bad dealers’. They would loose their artists to one of the other 295,000 outlets available, and quite rightly so.

A dealer wants an artist to flourish and grow, expand and enhance their technique. Why? Well, quite frankly it's good for business, for both parties. A dealer will support that artist in many ways, financially among others. Lest not forget, artists have been known to walk, or to be poached from galleries with incentives, some of which are of course, financial. This is perhaps superfluous information, however, it does shine a light on the fact that artists do actually administer control over their careers. The Artist / Gallery / Dealer relationship should be a mutually beneficial, and symbiotic relationship, and, in a good and trusting environment, both parties should want each other to do well from that partnership. In addition, galleries also, sometimes, pay artists retainers.

Ideologically, assistance for a creative talent to be nurtured, brought out, and developed in an individual, whether that talent be poetry, writing, painting, designing architecture, sculpting, even something like visual merchandising, should be encouraged. But, the crux of the matter is, an artist creates a product, which he or she (or his or her gallery / dealer) hopes to sell. So, being an artist is, in effect, being a business. And every business struggles in the first five years. But, if you stick with it, do all the right things, keep a clean wicket, create wonderful works of art, and work hard, the chances are, that you'll get there. People do notice and respect 'staying power'. And, do you know something, if you really want it that much, and I mean really really want it, an artist could take on a part time job to fund that desire to get their vision out there, and into market. It's not unheard of.

On a final note, ARR is a payment for re-sales. It can only benefit those who have sold a fair amount of artwork in the first place. And much of the money goes to dead artists i.e. it cannot result in more artworks by them. ARR is not, by definition, a support to struggling new art, and artists, which, to the best of my knowledge, is how ARR was sold to us.

About the Author

Elliot Lee

Elliot Lee

Elliot Lee founded his antique business in 1994. Having bought his first Antique piece at the tender age of eleven, it has since then been his passion for Antiques, Fine Art, and aesthetically beautif...