Canadian Visual Artists Victorious at the Supreme Court of Canada

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled on May 14 that the National Gallery of Canada has a duty to work with visual artists who exhibit at the Gallery to establish a fee structure.

The ruling, which represents a major coup for artists and their right to be paid, happened swiftly and unexpectedly after a Supreme Court hearing concluded between the Gallery and two groups representing visual artists across Canada: CARFAC (Canadian Artists Representation) and RAAV (Le Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels du Québec).

The hearing is the latest chapter in a decade-plus dispute centering on establishing a minimum payment structure with the Gallery.

In February 2012, the Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal ruled that the National Gallery had not bargained in good faith with CARFAC and RAAV in trying to agree to a fee structure for visual artists. That decision was appealed by the National Gallery to the Federal Court of Appeal which overturned it in a 2-1 ruling. CARFAC and RAAV filed a leave to appeal of that ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada which was granted in mid-August 2013.

Upon news of the ruling, a jubilant Grant McConnell, president of CARFAC, stated: “It was a great day for Canada’s artists after many years of fighting.”

Both artist groups plan to resume negotiations with the National Gallery as soon as possible.

Read more…

Here’s a piece from the Ottawa Citizen on the ruling, including more background on this case.

Here’s CARFAC’s press release announcing the victory.

A webcast of the proceedings on May 14 is available online at the Supreme Court of Canada website here.

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