In Kind is a research project by visual artists Janie Nicoll and Ailie Rutherford, that began in 2018 taking Glasgow International festival of visual art as a case study. The project maps the hidden economies of the visual arts and the “below the water-line”* economy, charting the unseen and unaccounted efforts that enable the festival to take place, exploring unpaid labour, mutual support, favours and volunteer hours that go into making arts festivals happen.
In Kind challenges the apparently successful arts festival model rolled out across major cities, looking at whether this is actually a sustainable model. Conversations with a range of artists have made it increasingly apparent that the festival’s ‘in kind’ economy is the elephant in the room, while also being endemic within the art scene in general. The excavation of the extent of this underlying economy aims to empower artists and organisations alike to make the case for proper remuneration for their labour. Our discussion based events interrogate issues of artist precarity, opening up the debate on how lack of payment affects lack of diversity in the visual arts in Scotland, asking who can afford to be an artist?
Our research builds on information obtained through the Creative Scotland Visual Arts Sector Review 2015, where 45% of respondents estimated that over half the work they do is unpaid or voluntary. Similarly Scottish Artists Union Membership Survey 2016 shows high levels of volunteering by its membership, 52% in the arts; also with 45% of respondents thinking the sector is not healthy and viable for their practice.
For the duration of GI 2018 the artists operated from a peripatetic information kiosk situated at CCA, Platform and Trongate103, acting as a focus point to collate data and a multi-media visual display unit.
Since 2018 Ailie and Janie have continued to develop In Kind working with Create London, Alex Wilde for Axisweb and The NewBridge project.
In Kind zine documenting this work is now available as a free download In Kind zine to download featuring contributions from Sekai Machache, Mandy MacIntosh, UNIT, Precarious Workers Brigade, Helen DeMain, Create London and Scottish Artists Union.
See events page for further information.
*The notion of the economy “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.
With thanks to everyone who has participated in our project and to Westend Cabinetmakers for building our information kiosk. Thanks to Scottish Artists Union for support with the events www.sau.org.uk
Website design and build by Paul Maguire and Andrew Hopkins. Photography by Bob Moyler.