Artist curator claims Art Toronto owes them back pay after unfair dismissal

Art Toronto (October 29-31), one of Canada’s most established trade art fairs, came under fire this week after a curator took to social media to say he owed him money. back pay after being unfairly fired during last year’s pandemic. The fair, however, says the curator has received part of her honoraria since the in-person event was canceled last year due to Covid restrictions issued by the Canadian government.

In an article titled “It’s time to talk about Art Toronto”Kat Benedict, a Canadian artist but now based in London, says they signed a contract given to them by Toronto Art Director Mia Nielson in 2019 to organize a section of the fair called Focus, dedicated to queer and non-binary artists and galleries. “My section was based on my experience as a non-binary artist,” said Benedict The arts journal.

As the pandemic struck in early 2020, Benedict said they contacted the fair’s organizers on several occasions, but received little or conflicting information on whether the event would take place. Art Toronto finally told the curator at the end of September 2020 that the fair would be online only and that they would no longer need Benedict’s contribution.

“Unfortunately, many of the galleries I invited were considered disposable,” says Benedict. “I feel exploited and assaulted for giving him my cultural work, and I’m rather ashamed that a group as large as Informa, the multi-million dollar parent company of Art Toronto, cannot afford to. ‘honor the rest of my contract. ” Benedict had worked over 40 hours for the fair and was paid $ 3,500 CAD ($ 2,800) of the $ 6,000 CAD ($ 4,800) originally agreed.

Informa, which is based in the UK and listed on the London Stock Exchange, reported an operating profit of £ 267.8million in 2020.

A spokeswoman for Art Toronto and Informa said she was “disheartened” to learn of Benedict’s complaints. “Unfortunately, Art Toronto has gone from an in-person fair to an online model due to the Ontario government’s Covid-19 restrictions in September 2020 and vendors have been notified,” the spokesperson said in a statement. press release sent to The Art Newspaper.

“Due to the fact that Art Toronto was fully online, it became impossible to fulfill all obligations under the contract as there was no in-person showroom to organize,” the door added. word. “Therefore, Benoît received an additional sum and the contract was terminated due to the impossibility. We are contacting Benedict directly to resolve this contractual dispute. “

Benedict continues to question why Informa took more than a year to resolve the issue, noting that the whole process has become “stressful, unfair and detrimental” to their health and well-being. “By calling me a ‘supplier’, Art Toronto is only proving their exploitative working methods,” says Benedict.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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