Artist resale rights gain support in US Congress

From The Art Newspaper

A bill that would bring droit de suite, also known as artist resale royalty rights, to the US is gaining momentum in Congress. The bill has gained six co-sponsors in the past three weeks, including the representatives Sam Farr of California and Janice Schakowsky of Illinois.

See the full article here



Award-winning[1] Brisbane Indigenous artist Vernon Ah Kee claims art dealers who have been campaigning against the resale royalty scheme do not have their artists’ interests at heart.

“Dealers who are against the scheme say it’s because of the layers of red tape involved but I think the main reason they are against the scheme is because it lends transparency to art market dealings – and takes control of artists’ lives out of their hands. Dealers like to have absolute control of the dollars.”

Lex Wotton, 2013 by Vernon Ah Kee

Lex Wotton, 2013 by Vernon Ah Kee

The Resale Royalty Scheme was introduced in 2010. It provides artists with ongoing rights in their work, so that they earn a 5% royalty when their work is resold if the sale is over $1000. According to the Copyright Agency, which manages the scheme, 50% of all royalties distributed so far ($2.29M) have gone to Indigenous artists. See

The scheme is under review and artists are anxiously awaiting a decision from the Attorney-General George Brandis.

“Everything I have read about this scheme in the press, from the point of view of galleries, is ridiculous and laughable.

Mr Ah Kee said some art dealers’ practises were unfair. “Some of them don’t pay their artists – or they trade with them for payment. The resale scheme means they have to pay them money.”

Mr Ah Kee also said he was gobsmacked by a recent assertion by a high-profile artist that only “rich white artists” benefitted from the scheme.

Mr Ah Kee says “Many artists have absolutely no money, so whether it’s $50 [the minimum resale payment] or a larger amount, that money is a windfall for any artist – and it has been gained through their own efforts.”

“Receiving a cheque from a resale lends weight to an artist’s wellbeing. It gives them rights – they are being taken seriously. It means they are valued socially and culturally, and even politically.”

“The scheme needs to be given a chance to grow.”

Ah Kee is represented by Milani Galleries and says his dealer supports the royalty scheme because it genuinely helps artists.

Melbourne artist Juan Ford has also been vocal about the scheme, saying:

“Lost in the recent media hubbub is this simple fact: The Resale Royalty Scheme returns to the creator just 5% on the resale on the work they hold the copyright on.  Similar licence fees are a standard component of countless other business, governmental and cultural transactions the world over. Why should the visual arts be any different?

“Should an artist feel guilty about making too much money from the 5% resale on their work, then they are free to donate it as they see fit; attempting to prevent other artists from receiving it because of this guilt is deeply irrational. Futhermore, claiming that the scheme hurts emerging artists’ sales also makes absolutely no sense. For 13 years I have derived my entire income from art; I can say with confidence that the resale royalty scheme has played no part in the art world’s post-GFC sales malaise. Attributing slow sales to the scheme is ludicrous and irresponsible.”

Artist Juan Ford

Artist Juan Ford

Brisbane artist Michael Zavros also lent his voice to the debate: “As a board member of the National Association for the Visual Arts but also as an artist who derives my sole income from sale of my work, I support the Resale Royalty Scheme.”

“The scheme has achieved what it set out to do. The overwhelming majority of artists receiving royalties are Indigenous artists (over 65%). The assertion that it benefits rich white artists is a nonsense.”

Nearly 4000 artists and arts-lovers recently signed a petition calling for the retention of the scheme and 100 artists, including Reg Mombassa, Nicholas Harding, Arone Meeks, Jenny Fraser and Anthony Bennett mounted an exhibition called RIGHTNOW at the Boomalli Gallery in Sydney.

The petition has been delivered to Senator Brandis by the National Association for the Visual Arts. See the media release here:

[1] Vernon Ah Kee won the 2014 Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize in April for his charcoal drawing on canvas “Lex Wotton,” 2013. – See more at:

Petitioners passionate about resale royalty

Artists have come out en masse to protect Australia’s resale royalty scheme which delivers multiple benefits to artists.

In just a few short weeks, more than 3,600 artists and art lovers have signed a petition set up by the National Association for the Visual Arts supporting the Resale Right for artists and urging the Arts Minister, to uphold the right “which will build a stronger and more professional creative sector in this country for decades to come”.

Ms Winikoff has sent the petition to Senator Brandis, urging him to consider the views of artists and meet with NAVA to discuss potential refinements to the scheme to improve it and create “a lasting legacy for artists”.

Petitioners made many impassioned comments about the scheme, notably:

Melbourne artist Samantha Everton: “As a practising artist, this is the only way for me to secure my financial future. It is the only way I’ll be able to fund myself upon retirement.”

Artist Maria Fernanda Cardosa: “It’s my work. I am an artist without superannuation.”

Gabrielle Sullivan: “I manage an Aboriginal art centre in the Western Desert. I have witnessed the benefits to the artists I work with from the scheme. I am aware of what the artists did not benefit from before the scheme was introduced.”

Mollie Hewitt: “The Resale Royalty is an essential ongoing income stream for creative practitioners in Western Australia. It ensures that artists and their families remain benefactors of their own successes and that this is rewarded financially. This is an essential source of income for a group of professionals who otherwise will often greatly struggle financially. This Resale Royalty also points to a more general, national recognition and appreciation for the contribution of artists to our society and culture, its removal would be a disgrace.”

Artists’ royalties at risk

An imminent announcement from Canberra will determine the future of a royalty scheme that benefits underpaid artists.

The Resale Royalty Scheme currently awards five per cent of the resale value of a visual artwork back to the artist.

The federal arts minister, Senator George Brandis, is currently awaiting a briefing from the ministry before any changes to the scheme are announced.

Changes to the scheme could impact greatly on underpaid visual artists in Australia, most of whom are Aboriginal. Listen by following this link.



Artists have come out en masse to protect Australia’s resale royalty scheme which delivers multiple benefits to artists. They are sending a strong message to the Federal Arts Minister Senator George Brandis who will shortly be making a decision about the scheme’s future.

In just a few short weeks, more than 3,600 artists and art lovers have signed a petition set up by the National Association for the Visual Arts supporting the Resale Right for Artists and urging the Arts Minister, to uphold the right “which will build a stronger and more professional creative sector in this country for decades to come”.

Ms Winikoff sent the petition to Senator Brandis yesterday, urging him to consider the views of artists and meet with NAVA to discuss potential refinements to the scheme to improve it and create “a lasting legacy for artists”.

A further 70 established artists are signatories to a letter sent very recently to Senator Brandis in support of the scheme and more than 100 artists from all over Australia have staged an exhibition at Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative in Leichhardt, which has been extended until May 24.

Exhibiting artists include Nicholas Harding, Reg Mombassa, Mandy Martin, Martine Emdur, Luke Sciberras, Hilary and Kevin Wirri, Juan Ford, Matthew Johnson and artists from Maningrida, Ernabella, Iwantja Arts, Martumili, Tjala Arts, Tangentyere and Ngurratjuta Many Hands Arts Centre.

Tamara Winikoff OAM, Executive Director of the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) said. “The rally to support the scheme’s retention has finally brought some balance to the debate about the resale right.”

“Artists overwhelmingly want this scheme but until now they have been the silent majority as many gallery owners and art market professionals have held the floor strongly opposing the scheme because of its administrative requirements. However, now that the scheme has been operating for three years, many of the new processes are now in place and becoming second nature to galleries with some private commercial galleries coming out in support of the scheme.”

“What the resale royalty scheme has changed is the transparency it has given the art market, providing invaluable information about the provenance of artists’ work and allowing them to continue to have a modest interest in the work when it is resold.”

“The amount of the artists’ royalty is significant to artists, many of whom live below the poverty line.”

For media comment contact Tamara Winikoff m: 0411 162 156

CONTACT: Sam Mitchell Fin:

Quotes from signatories to the Resale Royalty petition on

Sydney artist, Ruark Lewis
“The Resale Royalty is essential to the well-being of the arts community for several important reasons. Firstly it is a line of support for Indigenous Australians and their families, and the fragile Aboriginal arts industry. Also for other Australian artists and their families, the income is often used to support and broaden archiving and caring for the artist’s legacy. These are but two examples of the ongoing value that Resales Royalties offer to the arts community. I have continually supported Resales Rights for Artists, both as an artist and collector of art.”

Susanna Mills
Because everybody makes money out of artists, but they are never prepared to pay them a fair price/rate or attribute much, if any value to the artist who creates the art. The Visual Arts profession has little to NO regulation regarding payment, resulting in Australian artists being an underprivileged group, which is highly vulnerable and therefore open to exploitation.

Graham Cowan
As an art lover who owns Aboriginal art bought in the 1970s I believe that the value accrued by the popularising of the genre should be shared with the original artist (who in the main were undervalued).

Pauline Denny, Wollongong
One day my art work could be resold and I would like to know and keep track of what happens and make a bit more money on something that is part of you at one part of your life.

John Martin
As a practising artist I believe that every small recognition is important.

Valerie Keenan
This is important to me personally as an independent artist and artsworker, and it is important to me in my work environment where I support in excess of 30 Aboriginal artists to develop their careers and opportunities.

Judi Ewings
Without artists our culture and society is lessened. In general artists earn very little and utilise their skills to create works to benefit us all.

RIGHTNOW exhibition extended until May 24!!

The petition on has now closed after achieving 3666 signatures in just a few weeks!


The RIGHTNOW exhibition has been extended until Saturday May 24.

Make sure you come along to Boomalli in Flood Street Leichhardt to see the beautiful and impressive works by Australian artists who support the continuation of the Resale Royalty scheme for artists.

The scheme provides a 5% payment to artists when their works are resold (if valued over $1000). This is a small payment which assists artists to make a living and also helps them to track their work’s value in the market place.

The scheme is under review and there is a concern it could be scrapped.

You can also write to your local Federal MP to encourage their support for the scheme in Parliament.




Royalty scheme paying off



From Tim Lloyd in The Advertiser (Adelaide) on April 22.

ARTISTS have come out in support of the resale royalty scheme after news that its fate was subject to review by the Federal Arts Minister Senator George Brandis.

The three-year-old scheme, introduced by the Labor government in June 2010, was designed to provide some income to artists from further sales of their works.

It was particularly designed to help Aboriginal artists, some of whom received very little from the initial sales of works now valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Read more here.