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DACS celebrates 40 years of protecting artists' rights

A room full of people, circling a person who is giving a speech in front of a big screen
Adelaide Damoah pictured at DACS' 40th anniversary event, at Shoreditch Arts Club. Photo credit: Matt Crossick/DACS. Artwork in the background: Sunil Gupta, The New Pre-Raphaelites #13, 2009

DACS celebrated 40 years of protecting artists’ rights, with artists including Adelaide Damoah, Chila Burman, Edward Woodman, Richard Wentworth and Sokari Douglas Camp. Artists were joined by Sir Chris Bryant and guests from across the visual arts, publishing, film and TV and music, to toast DACS’ 40th anniversary at Shoreditch Arts Club.

2024 marks 40 years since DACS was established by a group of artists and lawyers to stand up for artists, ensure fair pay and safeguard their copyright. DACS has distributed more than £200 million in royalties to date.

Guests included:

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chairperson of Arts Council England
Gilane Tawadros, Director of the Whitechapel Gallery
The Earl of Clancarty, Nick Trench
Lord Freyberg
Lord Clement-Jones
Mark Stephens CBE
Eliza Bonham-Carter, Curator & Director Royal Academy Schools
Cortina Butler, British Council
Eliza Gluckman, Director, Government Art Collection
Rebecca Morrill, Executive Commissioning Editor at HENI
Evan Ifekoya, artist
Janette Parris, artist
Gordon Cheung, artist
Richard Wentworth, artist
Isabel Ramos, Keiken artist collective

Christian Zimmermann, DACS Chief Executive said:

“DACS’ 40th anniversary is a moment to recognise that artists' rights are vital for sustaining artistic practice, enriching culture, and significantly contributing to the UK's £126 billion creative industries. Over the coming years, we will witness the emergence of new art forms, new methods of artistic practice, new means of communication, and crucially, new models of remuneration, copyright, and licensing. And, just as we have been since 1984, DACS will be there every step of the way, helping to chart a course through this new landscape, establishing new standards, protecting and promoting artists’ rights."

Artist, Adelaide Damoah said:

“When DACS was established, artists’ works mainly circulated in print, perhaps on TV, and copying was something you did in a library or office. Today, the means by which our work travels has changed immeasurably but the principles remain the same – it’s our work, and it should be up to us what happens to it. Here’s to another 40 years of DACS working to uphold this!”

Sir Chris Bryant said:

“Artists have been doing incredibly amazing innovative things throughout the centuries. We need to ensure that we never forget, that the first artifice is a human artifice. We need to face artificial intelligence and ensure we protect copyright, and the artist’s economic and moral rights, as in the end, this is about our shared humanity and that’s what art is all about.”

To mark this milestone DACS is convening a series of panel discussions at Shoreditch Arts Club, focused on the past, present and future of artists’ rights throughout June 2024.

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