One Week to the Supreme Court

Artists will head to the Supreme Court next week to defend their right to minimum artist fees at the National Gallery of Canada. 

From CARFAC National: 

For the last 11 years, the organizations that represent visual artists, CARFAC and RAAV, have been trying to negotiate standards for the payment of artists at the National Gallery that would be binding – similar to a minimum wage.

In 2007, the gallery suddenly refused to negotiate these fees; they argue that artists have the right to be paid less if they choose.

The gallery was initially found guilty of bargaining in bad faith but this was overturned in a split decision by the Federal Court of Appeal in March 2013. The case will now have its final hearing at the Supreme Court of Canada on Wednesday, May 14.

CARFAC and RAAV recommend minimum fees for galleries to pay for the use of artists' work. The fees are voluntary, which means that many galleries pay them but some still pressure artists to waive their rights. 

What’s different about the fees CARFAC and RAAV want to negotiate with the National Gallery is that they would be binding – sort of like a minimum wage. Artists would still be free to negotiate higher rates.

If you would like to watch the hearing, it will be webcast on the Supreme Court’s website on May 14. Hearings normally begin at 9:30 a.m.; however, the Court may start at 9:00 a.m. without prior public notice.

And, of course, we could still use help raising the funds necessary to pay our fantastic lawyer, David Yazbeck, without whom we would never have gotten this far. So far we are at $31,420 of the $50,000 we expect to pay in legal and court fees. If you have not made a contribution yet, please consider making one now. If you have already contributed, please ask your friends to do the same.

Click here to make a contribution. 

For more information, visit


©2019 BC Alliance for Arts + Culture. All rights reserved | Privacy Policy