Artists’ Collecting Society was set up in 2006 as a not-for-profit company dedicated to the administration of Artist’s Resale. Resale rights entitle artists to claim a percentage when secondary sales takes place. With growing need to increase awareness among artists about resale rights in the UK, ACS today represents over 800 artists and artists’ estates throughout Europe. We spoke to Kimberley Ahmet, Project Manager at ACS, about the society operates and why it is vital for artists to know about it.
We welcome you again at #DebutTuesday after a great session last year, what are you bringing to the audience this week?
Each talk is designed to introduce the audience to the finer points of Artist’s Resale Right (ARR) and Copyright. We have found that many up and coming artists have not been sufficiently informed as to how to protect their works and what their rights actually are. We hope that this talk will help to combat this.
How do you introduce ACS and how was it set up?
The Artists’ Collecting Society (ACS) is the premium collecting society for the administration of Artist’s Resale Right. Formed as a Community Interest Company (CIC), ACS was established in response to the 2006 EU Directive on the implementation of ARR, and operates solely for the benefit of our member artists. Unlike the more traditional not-for-profit companies, a Community Interest Company is a socially responsible body with ‘primarily social purposes’ and is governed by the CIC Regulator, an officer within Companies House. This means that if ACS makes any profit, it must be used for the benefit of the artistic community. We provide a bursary for an RA student, for example, as well as sponsoring various art prizes.
The ACS Board includes artists, artists’ estates and industry professionals all of whom have the common objective of ensuring that ACS operates in the interest of its members and continues to provide the UK’s leading rights management service for artists.
Is the scheme open to overseas artists? Do you operate globally?
ARR is part of EU Directive so it applies to all artists who hold EU citizenship and all secondary sales of works by such artists throughout the EU. As a company, ACS operates throughout the EU.
Why in your opinion artist resale rights have come into law only less than a decade ago?
As I mentioned above, ARR is part of EU legislation. It was introduced into the UK in 2006 to ensure harmony across Europe. Furthermore, it ensures that artists’ intellectual property rights match those of other creators, such as musicians.
Why can emerging artists benefit by signing up now?
We always advise emerging artists to sign up with a collecting society even if their work has not begun to sell on the secondary market. One of the benefits of this is that once the artist has appointed a collecting society they no longer have to worry about a sale being missed.
Do you deal with many disputes on a regular basis?
Happily, disputes are rare. Last year we had to take legal action against an auction house who refused to declare sales information. However, this is always a last resort for us!
Is there an opposition in the art world to the Artist Resale Rights and if so why and by whom?
There is some opposition in the art world to ARR. The majority of the resistance comes from Art Market Professionals who are hit by what is known as the ‘cascade effect’ – which sees dealers effectively paying the royalty twice when they buy and sell the same piece of work in quick succession. However, ACS is working with AMPs to petition for a fairer system.
What prompted Lady Bridgman, the founder, to set it up in the first place?
ACS was set up by Harriet Bridgeman (founder of Bridgeman Images) in response to requests from artists and art dealers who recognised the need for a transparent, fair and professional collecting society which put artists’ needs first. Her experience, knowledge and passion for art ensured ACS was created ‘for the love of art’.