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Souls Grown Deep Foundation will give living artists a 5% royalty when collection works are resold

The initiative aims to address historic discrimination against artists of colour, who often gain recognition—and market value—later in their careers

Mary L. Bennett, a member of the Gee's Bend artists collective, has created quilts that are now in museum collections © Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio

The Souls Grown Deep Foundation, an organisation dedicated to documenting and promoting the work of African American artists from the US South, is launching a Resale Royalty Award Program that will grant monetary awards to living artists whose works have been sold through the foundation’s Collection Transfer Program. That initiative has so far placed more than 400 works into museums around the world, including the Met, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Washington, DC’s Phillips Collection, and more. Now, artists whose work has has been resold by the foundation in the past and going forward will receive a payout, a rare occurrence in the US, which does not have a droit de suite law for secondary market sales.

"The US has been slow to recognise what much of the rest of the world did long ago. Visual artists deserve to benefit from increased valuation of their works—and historic discrimination has left artists of colour at a particular disadvantage,” says Maxwell Anderson, the president of Souls Grown Deep. Every living artist in the collection, numbering more than 50, will annually receive an award equal to 5% of the proceeds received from resales of their work, with an annual cap up to $85,000 per artist. This percentage is the highest royalty threshold worldwide.

In a comment piece on why American artists should benefit from the resale of their works published by The Art Newspaper last year, Anderson argued that the implementation of a resale rights law in the US “would also address lingering inequities born of racism and allow the families of artists excluded from the art market to be appropriately recompensed.”

“We believe in the need to address historic discrimination against artists of colour, by advocating for the contributions of these artists in the canon of American art history, securing copyright protection for them and their heirs and assigns, providing new pathways to market access and licensing income, grant-making, project support, advocacy, and now the Resale Royalty Award Program,” Anderson says.