IN KIND is a research project by visual artists Janie Nicoll and Ailie Rutherford for Glasgow International 2018.
The project will map the hidden economies of the festival and the “below the water-line” economy of the arts; charting the unseen and unaccounted for efforts that enable the festival to take place, exploring unpaid labour, mutual support, favours and volunteer hours that go into making Glasgow International.
The notion of the economy “below the water-line” is taken from the metaphor of The Economy As An Iceberg, by feminist economists JK Gibson-Graham as a means of describing the diverse economic practices and unseen labour in our economy.
Our proposal is informed by conversations with previous participants of GI, where it has become increasingly apparent that the festival’s ‘in kind’ economy is the elephant in the room for many artists and projects in GI, while also being endemic within the art scene in general. The excavation of the extent of this underlying economy will not only highlight the issues, the precarious and unsustainable nature of these large-scale events, but also aim to empower artists and organisations alike to make the case for proper remuneration for their labour, time and efforts. In a wider context we are aiming to uncover the unpaid work of artists that underpins the apparently successful arts festival model rolled out across major cities, looking at whether this is actually a sustainable model for artists and the sector in general.
Our research will build on information obtained through the CS Visual Art Sector Review 2015, where 45% of respondents estimated that over half the work they do is unpaid or voluntary. Similarly Scottish Artists Union Membership Survey 2016 shows high levels of volunteering by its membership, 52% in the arts; also with 45% of respondents thinking the sector is not healthy and viable for their practice.
For the duration of the festival the artists will operate from a peripatetic information booth to be situated at CCA, Platform and Trongate103, acting as a focus point to collate data and a multi-media visual display unit. Alongside this we are planning a series of curated events to interrogate themes of artist precarity and sustainability of the sector.