January 23rd, 2021

Taking advantage of artists

By Letter to the Editor on September 11, 2020.

I recently heard about Exhibition Park’s Whoop-Up Days art/poster contest and am sad to see that it is yet another disingenuous “opportunity” for artists to be taken advantage of by an organization that is more than capable of treating them fairly.

This contest requires all submitting artists to sign over their made-to-order creative works to become the “exclusive property of Exhibition Park.” What do these artists stand to receive in return for this generous contribution of intellectual property to Exhibition Park? Why, exposure, of course (or, as they say, a “unique opportunity for our community to showcase their talent”), plus they’ll throw in a few passes for posterity. This contest is problematic for a number of reasons:

There is nothing “unique” about offering artists “exposure.” It happens all the time. They obviously feel entitled not just to the free work of one artist, but to have their choice from as many custom-made pieces as possible.

It is predatory to require the transfer of ownership – without any limits – for the mere privilege of making a submission. They are claiming ownership over the creative works, of both winners and losers, in perpetuity, robbing them of any potential future benefit (however unlikely) from their work. Exposure in this case is particularly useless. You never see contests where the prize is providing catering, accounting, cleaning, or any other service needed for a festival; that would be ridiculous. A non-creative professional would never be expected to work for free.

Arts and art education budgets are the first thing cut in economic downturns and budget-trimming. Particularly during COVID, artists and musicians are struggling and Exhibition Park is exploiting this.

It normalizes the attitude that art has no value. This is wrong and incredibly insulting to the people who work hard developing their skills, and is also dangerous to the cultural development of our society.

While Exhibition Park isn’t unique in running this type of predatory contest, they are certainly in a position to compensate the winner fairly for their work and have no need to claim ownership over any of the submissions. Do better Exhibition Park.

Ashley Haughton (not an artist)


Share this story:

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Hear! Hear!