Here are a few resources about art and labor including some historical efforts by artists to gain more security and better working conditions:
Occupy October magazine special issue chapter with responses about OWS from Paul Arsenyev, Todd Ayoung, Paul, Andrew Hemingway, Blithe Riley, Rasha Salti, Dan Wang, & Gregory Sholette: OCTOBER 142 Fall 2012 pp 68–73.
And fyi: Art Workers’ Coalition (AWC) final demands drafted in 1970 included these items, some that are very relevant still today:
“UNTIL SUCH TIME AS A MINIMUM INCOME IS GUARANTEED FOR ALL PEOPLE, THE ECONOMIC POSITION OF ARTISTS SHOULD BE IMPROVED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS:
- Rental fees should be paid to artists or their heirs for all work exhibited where admissions are charged, whether or not the work is owned by the artist.
- A percentage of the profit realized on the resale of an artists’ s work should revert to the artist or his [sic] heirs.
- A trust fund should be set up from a tax levied on the sales of the work of dead artist. This fund would provide stipends, health insurance, help for artists’ dependents and other social benefits.
- Museum staffs should take positions publicly and use their political influence in matters concerning the welfare of artists, such as rent control for artist’s housing, legislation for artists’ rights and whatever else may apply specifically to artist sin their area. In Particular, museums, as central institutions, should be aroused by the crisis threatening man’s survival and should make their own demands to the government that ecological problems be put on par with war and space efforts.
- The Board of Trustees of all museums should be made up of one-third museum staff, one-third patrons and one-third artists, if it is to continue to act as a the policy-making body of the museum. All means should be explored in the interest of a more open-minded and democratic museum. Artworks are a cultural heritage that belong to the people. No minority has the right to control them; therefore, a board of trustees chosen on a financial basis must be eliminated.
- Museums should encourage female artists to overcome centuries of damage done to the image of the female as an artist by establishing equal representation of the sexes in exhibitions and museum purchases and on selection committees.”
AWC’s first list of demands (1969) to the Museum of Modern Art included:
” WITH REGARD TO ART MUSEUMS IN GENERAL THE ART WORKER’S COALITION MAKES THE FOLLOWING DEMANDS:
- The Museum should hold a public hearing during February on the topic “The Museum’s Relationship to Artists and Society…
- A section of the Museum, under the direction of black artists, should be devoted to showing the accomplishments of black artists.
- The Museums activities should be extended into the black, Spanish and other communities. It should also encourage exhibits with which these groups can identify.
- The Museum should recognize an artist’s right to refuse showing a work owned by the Museum in any exhibition other than one of the Museum’s permanent collection.
- The Museum should declare its position on copyright legislation and the proposed arts proceeds act. It should also take active steps to inform artists of their legal rights.
- A registry of artists should be instituted by the Museum. Artists who wish to be registered should supply the Museum with documentation of their work, in the form of photographs, news clippings, etc., and this material should be added to the existing artists’ files. [This was no doubt the foundational concept for the founding of Artists’ Space btw.]
- The Museum should exhibit experimental works requiring unique environmental conditions at locations outside the Museum.
- A section of the Museum should be permanently devoted to showing the works of artists without galleries.”
Other resources include an archive about AWC here: http://primaryinformation.org/index.php?/projects/art-workers-coalition/
And the group W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy): http://www.wageforwork.com/wage.html
And the website of Gulflabor Coalition is: http://gulflabor.wordpress.com/