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Although nego­ti­at­ed rela­tion­ships forms one of the three core con­di­tions enabling artists’ pur­suit of liveli­hoods over a life-cycle, the over-com­pet­i­tive and dis­parate nature of con­tem­po­rary visu­al arts acts as dis­in­cen­tive to achiev­ing them. This sem­i­nar on offer to artists aims to pro­vide ratio­nale and tac­ti­cal tips for achiev­ing a win-win’ situation.

Achiev­ing nego­ti­at­ed rela­tion­ships forms one of the three core con­di­tions for artists’ pur­suit of liveli­hoods over a life-cycle. How­ev­er, in a busy, high­ly-com­pet­i­tive visu­al arts cli­mate, where good prac­tices and indus­try knowl­edge aren’t always shared or under­stood, it can seem hard for indi­vid­ual artists to nego­ti­ate suit­able con­di­tions includ­ing con­trac­tu­al arrange­ments and pay­ment for projects and exhi­bi­tions that’s com­men­su­rate with their par­tic­u­lar needs and expe­ri­ence and so the artis­tic expec­ta­tions of artist and com­mis­sion­er are realised to a high quality.

The diverse forms of the visu­al arts range from com­mu­ni­ty activism to fes­ti­val fringes and per­ma­nent com­mis­sions to exhi­bi­tions and exper­i­men­tal social­ly-engaged and par­tic­i­pa­to­ry prac­tices. The high­er inter­na­tion­al pro­file of the visu­al arts brings inter­na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tion for UK work and oppor­tu­ni­ties. Com­mis­sion­ers and employ­ers – whose expe­ri­ence and under­stand­ing of artists’ prac­tices and liveli­hoods varies con­sid­er­ably –come from the com­mer­cial, pub­lic and social enter­prise sectors. 

Along­side artists striv­ing to make a liv­ing from art prac­tice, many peo­ple artists encounter when seek­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties are work­ing free­lance in gal­leries, muse­ums, fes­ti­vals and bien­ni­als and com­mu­ni­ty projects. Some are artists who com­bine their own prac­tice with free­lance project man­age­ment, edu­ca­tion or arts con­sul­tan­cy and who have to nav­i­gate the con­flicts. In this com­plex, com­pet­i­tive cli­mate, if artists aren’t able to nego­ti­ate terms and con­di­tions to suit their par­tic­u­lar needs and cir­cum­stances they can find them­selves los­ing out eco­nom­i­cal­ly and artistically.

In response to this envi­ron­ment for artists’ prac­tices, we’ve devel­oped a sem­i­nar espe­cial­ly for artists. Led by an expe­ri­enced arts advis­er and men­tor, Nego­ti­at­ing bet­ter has been described as“entertaining, inspir­ing and infor­ma­tive”. It aims to improve artists’ under­stand­ing and appli­ca­tion of nego­ti­a­tion process­es. It cov­ers con­texts for artists’ work, sift­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties on offer and tack­ling thorny issues includ­ing no and low bud­gets, unre­al­is­tic com­mis­sion briefs and expec­ta­tions and over opti­mistic time-scales, whilst pur­su­ing an over­all devel­op­ment plan. 

It includes tac­ti­cal tips to enable artists to retain integri­ty and by assess­ing their spe­cif­ic needs, ensure they get terms for oppor­tu­ni­ties reflec­tive of their pro­fes­sion­al sta­tus and expe­ri­ence lev­el, and can say no’ and retreat from poor offers. Whether nego­ti­at­ing work, con­tracts, projects, oppor­tu­ni­ties or oth­er aspects of pro­fes­sion­al life, this sem­i­nar inspires con­fi­dence amongst artists and demon­strates how to achieve a win-win’ sit­u­a­tion – the best solution.

To dis­cuss or book this sem­i­nar, in the first instance send a tweet to @SusanJonesArts