Dakar Biennal panels spotlight Covid-19 impact, financing culture and rights for visual arts

Dakar Biennal Panel

Bringing fairer remuneration and stronger rights for visual artists was a key topic drawing international organisations representing creators at the Dakar Biennal in Senegal.

The panels, from May 22 to May 25, examined Covid-19’s impact on creativity, financing culture, and visual artists’ rights. World Intellectual Property Organisations (WIPO) Deputy Director General Sylvie Forbin and CISAC Regional Director for Africa Samuel Sangwa joined national collective management bodies in the discussions:  ADAGP Director General Marie-Anne Ferry-Fall (France), DACS Head of Policy and International Reema Selhi (UK), and representatives from SODAV (Senegal).

The pandemic forced visual artists to move their activities on to the internet while disrupting  distribution channels and commerce. According to Auctioneering Council General Counsel Pierre Taugourdea, global auction sales volumes declined 30%in 2020, causing artists and art market professionals both to suffer.  Sales rebounded by 50% in 2021, with 80% of these sales coming from online buyers. Representatives from CISAC, UNESCO, WIPO and the Senegalese government examined the impact of Covid-19 on creativity in visual arts.

DACS, representing visual artists in the UK, detailed its summer 2020 survey on artist practices during COVID-19, including what support measures were available for creators. It detailed mental health concerns in addition to positive impacts such as the opportunity to learn new digital skills and training opportunities.

On May 25, a panel with WIPO, CISAC, ADAGP and SODAV detailed mechanisms available to visual artists, including reprography, private copying remuneration, resale right, contractual rights as well as the right to collective management.

DACS detailed three income streams of rights management for visual artists: copyright licensing, collective licensing and resale right. ADAGP explained the situation in France on visual artists’ rights, focussed on exhibition rights and resale rights.   

The particular importance of resale right was highlighted, noting that the right exists in 80 countries but not in the two largest art markets of China and the United States.  The resale right enables artists to share in the proceeds of the resale of their works when sold on by users such as auction houses and galleries.

SODAV spoke to reprography right, which compensates artists for reproductions of their work. The society emphasised the importance of enforcing the reprography right particularly in the press, which commonly disregards authors’ rights.

Dakar Biennal Panel