Sunday 14 November 2010

Uncovering the RCA Secret

As Simone has explored here and here, the arts are having a tough time at the moment. But necessity is the mother of all invention and galleries, art colleges and museums are coming up with increasingly creative means of making money both for themselves and for the next generation of artists.

One of the most innovative is the
RCA Secret 2010.

Students are paid £250 for their two postcard series’ (one for the second and third year of the course). This money covers some of their material and final exhibition costs and the remainder of the proceeds go to the RCA Fine Art Student Award Fund. The approach and theme of the mini works of art varied considerably. The most interesting aspect, from an IP lawyer’s perspective, was the amount of anger towards both copyright law and the abuse of artistic rights online.

One series of postcards suggested that the internet was killing the arts by making works, particularly photographs, too easily available for others to use without compensating the artists. Other postcards commented on the ubiquity of marketing and celebrity in the modern world. My favourite (from a geeky legal perspective), was a mock Polaroid image pinned to a piece of white card which proclaimed “this is a trademark” (sic). Another, in the series stated “this design is copyrighted”.

One thing that was clear from the exhibition is how little understanding there is amongst many artists of exactly what rights they own when they create new artworks and the value of these rights. When copyright is the law which pays the bills a better understanding of how it works would add value to these young artists works and, potentially, give them more opportunities in the future.

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