“Supporting diversity whether it be age, ethnicity, gender, lone or parental status isn’t just about being fair – it’s also about us allowing a diverse flow of experience, nuance, innovation, invention to flourish so the work, the gallery, the practice of art is as rich as it can be. Dispensation for real life needs to start to be built into all collaborations with artists.” (Melanie Jackson)
While responsibility for childcare currently falls overwhelmingly on mothers, we are using the word ‘parent’ in these guidelines in the hope that this may change.
Treat the artist as a whole person.
Be breastfeeding friendly; stay in contact with artists when they become parents.
The art does not need to be family friendly, but the institution should be.
It shouldn’t be left to the artist to have to ‘confess’ to being a parent, or to fear they may lose a show, commission or residency if they do so.
Don’t make urgent last-minute requests for texts, talks, and other extras.
Discuss childcare costs upfront with the artist and be clear about what you can and can’t cover.
Allow artists to invoice for that portion of their fee that they will need to spend on childcare as a direct cost so that they won’t be taxed for it as income.
Consider options such as weekend daytime private views rather than sticking rigidly to early evenings when children need to be fed, bathed and put to bed.
Offer artists who need to travel with children the option of installing a show over half term, for example.
This may involve allowing the artist to split the residency period into more manageable sections, or supporting them through a research and development period in their own studio if they can’t travel.
Artists’ careers come in many shapes, and are paused for many reasons, parenting among them.
Emerging artists are not always those who graduated most recently.