Regarding the Artist’s right to information
To “The artist’s Right to Information”
From the editor:
Readers might recall from the last issue of AIW a letter from Metje Butler regarding WHA’s refusal to pass along the name of the winning bidder for her artwork. The response she received at that time was that WHA did not reveal the names “to protect the buyer.”
I contacted WHA to see if they had a response. Here is their response:
“The auction practice is - the artist can find out who the high bidder of their item was, upon individual request.”
I will keep you informed of future developments.
The letter from Metje Butler follows
Greetings to all the creative spirits out there:
In response to their offering and call for artists, I created a work for the WHA Art and Antiques Auction of 2003. I put a lot of effort into the piece and enjoyed doing it. They seemed most appreciative in return, and I was happy to do it for such a worthy cause.
However, following the auction, when I attempted to learn who had purchased the piece, I was told that WHA does not reveal these names; that “To protect the buyer, we have a policy not to give out the name.” I told the speaker that this is an infringement of artist’s rights, that artists need this information to be able to send notices of future shows to those who enjoy and have purchased their work in the past, and also to be able to ask for a loan back of the piece, in the case of mounting a retrospective exhibit of their work. In fact, we have a right to know where our work is housed.
I asked them from what they are “protecting the buyer” with this across-the-board policy, and they had no answer other than that some people liked to remain anonymous. They said they would get back to me about this particular buyer.
This was months ago and I have had no word either of who purchased my work, or of any change in policy. In fact, twice recently I received a request for another donation of my work for this year’s Auction. I told them of the above and turned them down, and I mentioned that I intended to speak to other artists about this unfair treatment. The woman’s response was to tell me that WHA used to give out this information and that she did not know why I was told I could not have it; that she would “get back to me”.
Again, I have not received word, and I suspect that I am being stalled while artists are being signed up as donors. If I were a big-name artist generating thousands of dollars, I wonder if I would have received this treatment.
Over history, because we have not had a way to unite for our common good, artists have had no recourse for unfair treatment
I’m writing here in hopes that other artists will join me in turning down donations to the Art and Antiques Auction until they change their unfair policy for all of us. In unity there is strength.