Giving back through voluntary resale payments

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The Resale Royalty Right for visual artists entitles artists and their estates to a 5% royalty whenever an eligible artwork resells in Australia. These must be reported to the Copyright Agency so we can pay the artists and beneficiaries under the Resale Royalty Scheme.

Although resales of artworks acquired before 9 June 2010 must be reported, they do not meet the criteria for a royalty payment – but they need not miss out altogether. Buyers and sellers can (and have) opted to pay the resale royalty voluntarily. This is precisely what art collector Kath Wellman did when she consigned a work to an exhibition earlier this year.

Kath developed a keen interest in art from a young age, and started collecting as soon as she had a salary. Her Australian art collection includes abstract landscapes and abstract expressionist pieces, as well as Aboriginal art. “I have a number of Indigenous art objects and paintings on canvas,” she explains, “several of which are by female Indigenous artists.”

One of the artworks in Kath’s collection was a painting by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa, a founding member of Papunya Tula Artists. She consigned it to the ground-breaking New York exhibition Papunya in March, and it became her first sale of a major painting.

Art market professional D’Lan Davidson, who facilitated the sale, informed Kath that she could make a voluntary resale payment. He proposed a 2.5% contribution that he would match from his commission. Kath, who was already aware of the Resale Royalty Scheme, was more than happy to contribute.

“It seemed ridiculous to me that artists who had completed their work and been collected before the legislation existed were not eligible for the resale royalty, even though their work had greatly appreciated in value,” she explains. “Ronnie’s painting has given me much joy for over twenty years – it was the least I could do.”

64% of the artists currently receiving resale royalties are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (see our infographic). The payments lead to positive social, psychological and monetary outcomes for these artists, which Kath sees as particularly important for those who may be otherwise disenfranchised.

“Art needs to be supported,” she says. “Many artists struggle to make a living from their work. If the Resale Royalty Scheme works to support those artists, then I think that is a good thing.”

We are pleased to announce that we now offer voluntary resale reporting via the Resale Royalty website. If you would like more information about this new feature, please get in touch with our Resale Royalty team members by calling 1800 066 844 or emailing resale@copyright.com.au.

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