THE French government’s change of heart over the Artist’s Resale Right is being hailed a sea change by fellow ‘anti’ campaigners.
Originally champions of the ARR, which originated in France, the French government now plan to campaign against it being paid to the estates of dead artists after 2012, initially by lobbying the EU.
This brings them into line with the British Art Market Federation, who have spearheaded the campaign against the extension of the right because of the damage they expect it to do to the UK art trade. Their position is supported by ATG, who sponsored the recent independent report by art market academic Toby Froschauer on the effects of the right so far and what is likely to happen in the future.
On the other side of the debate are the collecting agencies, dominated by the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS). They have also completed research into the effects of the levy. Although ATG have yet to see a copy of their report, they have published headlines from it. Meanwhile the UK government's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) have published a 103-page independent report based on interviews with art market professionals and artists supplied from DACS' database.
•All agree that the UK art market has grown since ARR's introduction, as has the rest of the world market. DACS say this proves it has not damaged the UK market. Froschauer and the IPO report say it is not clear whether the UK market would have fared better or worse if ARR had not been introduced.
•DACS and the IPO report agree that the benefits to artists outweigh the cost of the levy to the market. Froschauer argues that extra hidden costs tip the balance the other way. The IPO report notes the additional costs too.
• Froschauer and the IPO report broadly agree over the costs per transaction. DACS believe that they are far lower. Typically, the IPO estimate the cost of administering each transaction at £10 or under, but DACS say that £10 is the total cost for administering all transactions for a period of three months.
• Froschauer estimates the average time for a dealer processing a transaction at 35 minutes. DACS say it takes less than five minutes. The IPO report gives no time estimates but says that about half the art market professionals they polled found the process little or no burden, while the other half found it quite or very burdensome.
• DACS said that 87% of art market professionals say the ARR has not damaged their business. Froschauer gives no clear figure on this point, but the IPO report says just over 40 per cent said it was having a negative or very negative effect. 55% said it had no effect at all. Despite this, nearly three quarters saw it as damaging to the London market.
•DACS give no view as to how they believe the extension of ARR to the estates of dead artists would affect the market. Froschauer estimates a fivefold increase in payments, the IPO estimate a fourfold increase.