On September 6 2017 the Artists' Committee, artists, arts workers, NGV members and art lovers met to discuss the broad ecology of cultural institutions (and NGV in particular) that can lead to ethical or unethical decisions to be made. Through this process we were able to better understand how a commercial partnership such as the one between Wilson Security and the NGV could come about. In concluding the meeting, we returned to focus on this issue as a priority, but believe that it should be seen in light of other factors outlined below.
Most importantly, we re-iterate our demand that NGV make a public statement that rules out the possibility of future business with Wilson Security (or other companies such as G4S) who support and profit from the detention industry. Artistic and creative work fundamentally relies on human freedom, and as artists we find it impossible to support institutions that support illegal detainment.
Additionally, stakeholders identified ethical issues in the following areas:
Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance. For example:
Developing and adhering to criteria around the social and environmental impact of the Gallery’s supply chain through commercial contracts and sponsorship.
Standards around the environmental and social impact of the Business Council, Foundation members and Trustees’ corporate interests, e.g.
Connections to oil, coal & gas industries (through direct links to mining companies as well as the accounting, legal, banking, logistics and infrastructure that supports the mining industry).
Exploitation of migrant and refugee workers (eg through Peter Edwards and Victor Smorgon Group.)
Greater representation of artists, critics, curators, academics on Council of Trustees.
Minimum targets of diversity across staffing, governance and programming including First Nations and People of Colour and members of additional intersectional communities (including ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, class). NGV’s Indigenous and Culturally Diverse Employment and Programming Policies publicly available online.
Updated, improved and externally monitored environmental management program. NGV’s Environmental Sustainability Policy publicly available online.
Improved relationship with artists, arts workers and arts audiences in Australia including:
Published minimum standard for artists’ fees.
Education programs free to all schools.
Free entry to all exhibitions for school and tertiary students, children, concession card holders, seniors and pensioners, asylum seekers, carer card holders. Cap on full admission prices.
Accessible curatorial processes, e.g.
Published procedures for the exhibition and collection of art works
Accessible public process for communication between contemporary Australian artists and curatorial department.
Public accountability for decisions around blockbuster exhibitions.
Balance between exhibitions of work by dead white men and the rest of the practicing world.
Enacted understanding of the difference between commercial products and artistic output, i.e. the cultural value of original creative work versus the market value of brands such as General Motors/Holden, Bulgari or Dior.
Detailed transparent annual reports with figures including:
Calculation rubric for attendance figures.
Percentages of contemporary Australian artists in collection and exhibitions.
Gender representation in collection and exhibitions including expenditure breakdown on purchased, commissioned and exhibited art works.
More honest reporting of environmental data (i.e. reporting of raw CO2 emissions rather than divided per visitor).
Adherence to existing codes of practice are a minimum expectation, including, but not limited to:
NAVA artists fees and Code of Practice for Public Galleries
ICOM Code of Practice
NGV’s own Enterprise Bargaining Agreement to protect and support workers
Support for these measures is being voiced by a growing number of artists and arts workers, artist-run spaces, educational institutions and public galleries. In light of this we hope NGV can establish a process by which the Gallery’s stakeholders can be assured of greater probity and transparency in all areas of the institution’s operation.
In moving forward, NGV may consider undertaking some of the existing frameworks suggested by attendees of the Ethics Charter meeting. These include a quadruple bottom line audit, and becoming a B Corporation, both of which may provide a roadmap for the NGV to become a more equitable, sustainable and inspiring institution.
CONTRIBUTE TO THE ETHICS CHARTER
How can our public cultural institutions represent the best of us as human beings and the best of our society? Contribute to the collective drafting of an ethics charter for the National Gallery of Victoria and other public cultural institutions. Consider what you oppose (NO) as well as what you envision (YES) in any area of the institution: sponsorship, commercial contracts, employment and labour rights, representation, diversity, governance, access, marketing and promotion.
Please also include your name and email in the text box if you wish to be kept up to date with charter developments.
ETHICS CHARTER MEETING
When: 6-8pm Wednesday September 6 2017
Where: West Space, Level 1/225 Bourke St, Melbourne
Join us to collaboratively draft an ethics charter for the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and other public cultural institutions.
On August 11, 1500 artists, artsworkers, NGV members and members of the public demanded that the NGV end its partnership with Wilson Security, the company violently enforcing Australia's cruel treatment of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru. Director, Tony Ellwood's reply and our reply to him can be found on our website:www.artistscommittee.com
We have restated our demand and reiterated our request to meet with the NGV to discuss the drafting of an ethics charter, in consultation with artists, to provide a pathway for the NGV to live up to its vision of "creating an inspiring future."
Whether or not our request is granted, we propose that as a community, we collaboratively create an ethics charter ourselves that can be gifted to the NGV.
The meeting will be an opportunity to discuss the current situation with Wilson Security and the NGV and our role in it, as well as voice the multitude of interconnected concerns that have been brought to our attention since the beginning of this short campaign. These concerns relate, for example, to sponsorship arrangements, commercial contracts, workplace rights, diversity, representation, transparency and access.
Most importantly, it will be an opportunity to collectively envision a public cultural institution that represents the best of us as human beings and the best of our society.
We hope you will be as excited as us about this collaborative opportunity and we look forward to seeing you on September 6.
If you can't make it, but want to contribute, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the form above.
SOME BACKGROUND READING
Arts Charters, Codes and Methodologies
- Australian Arts Charter written in Sydney by Clare Cooper, Benjamin Forster and Penelope Benton (2015-16)
- Platform London Ethical Funding Guide (2012)
- Summary of Museums Protocol documents in Australia
- Summary of Museums Australia Code of Ethics (1999)
- International Council of Museums, Code of Ethics for Museums (2006)
- National Association of Visual Arts document with lots of links to institutional charters / codes
- Collection of Australian Indigenous Visual Arts Codes and Protocols
- Testing Grounds, Program Methodology