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Access To Arts Conference/Documentation

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30 July 2019 | Chandigarh (Q43433) - India

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General Overview[edit]


Yann Forget giving a session about Copyrights at Access to Arts Conference
Yann Forget giving a session about Copyrights at Access to Arts Conference
ikimedia Commons is a a media file repository "that makes available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content to all. The idea of Access to Arts Conference developed during one of the meet-ups with Punjab Lalit Kala Akademy, in which the discussion started about the Creative Commons and Wikimedia Commons supporting free licenses that allow artists to share the work with certain permissions while keeping their copyrights. There were some issues raised during this discussion, such as, the legal structures and the problems that artists can possibly face because of open licenses. It was decided that a summit should be organized where we can gather artist community, where we tell them about open access and Commons licenses and hear their perspectives about free licenses. Along with this strategic discussion, the most important fact was to inform them about Wikimedia Movement and how they can collaborate with Commons community and release their work for public use.


Artist Diwan Manna at Access to Arts Conference
Artist Diwan Manna at Access to Arts Conference

The day started with Diwan Manna (National Academy Award recipient, National Academy of Art, India, President of Punjab Lalit Kala Akademy and a renowned Indian conceptual artist and photographer) welcoming the Commons team, Yann Forget, KCVelaga, Satdeep Gill, Wikilover90, Benipal hardarshan, Shubham, Gurdeep Singh, Jasdeep Singh from Kirrt, a non-profit working documenting stories of artisans of Punjab. After that, there was a series of interview shoot where renowned journalist Parul interviewed Yann Forget and KC Velaga. Later, there was a team meeting in which we discussed about the free licenses and the main discussion points regarding the open access movement in India and across the globe.

Later the program started with Diwan Manna, giving an welcome note about talk about the democratization of knowledge and art. After that, Rupika presented a key note about the free knowledge movement and the role of Wikimedia movement and it's mission of sum of all human knowledge. Next was the Copyrights session by Yann Forget which covered, the Creative Commmons licenses, different cultural and artist collaborations done in Wikimedia movement, nationally and globally. Later Satdeep Gill, talked about the importance of GLAM partnerships done by the Wikimedia Commons community and the different key examples of such partnerships done on individual and organizational level with Creative commons and Wikimedia commons. After the key notes, there was a panel discussion done with Yann Forget, KCVelaga, Satdeep Gill, Wikilover90, and Diwan Manna in which artists asked questions concerning about open access, its benefits and drawbacks to artist economy, copyrights, Indian copyright laws and certain cases they had come across. The discussion ranged from programmatic to meta level and the overall response of the artist community was quite optimistic and promising. The panel ended with the closing note from Diwan Manna and later, there was an open discussions between the Commons team and the attendees during the high tea.

Panel Discussion[edit]

In the panel discussion, there were concerns raised by the artists. Some of the key questions were:

  • The work that we release becomes copyright free but at the same time it also open anyone to use the work commercially and make derivatives which could be beyond research or educational use. It can bring opportunity to people who are looking to abuse artists by changing the models and the work into something drastic and posting it under the name of the original artist. This can create legal problems for artist in a court of law.
  • This issue arises because commons allows to modify the original work with the Non-derivative clause. There should be a strategy that can protect the artists from the possibility of such issues.
  • If a work has been purchased by museum or a person, does the copyright passes away?
  • Can our work still be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons even if it online on some website or the copy of the work has been purchased by someone?
  • Is it possible that we can upload it to Commons instead and then give its link for usage in other online platforms?
  • Can the artists upload the images of their work themselves by stating, we own the work. How do you check if the work on Wikimedia Commons is original?
  • How does it benefit the artists to share their work for free for the public?
  • There are some technical concerns regarding the technical interface of the Wikimedia Commons. While uploading content, there are a lot of technical specifications which are not easy to understand. There are red text and errors that keep showing.
  • If our content is used illegally without attribution anywhere, how we come to know if it is being used illegally.
  • Is there any profit raised from the number of clicks on Commons?

Feedback from Artists[edit]


The people who are capable of sharing something significant should be approached and motivated particularly the younger generations.
A youtube video should be created about different issues. Different youtube tutorials are already present. From the smallest things to complicated ones, we have self explanatory tutorials for everything, we have community portals. On commons, provide as much as information possible in description.
Donation and revenue streams for wikimedia and artists can be integrated.
We have paintings, 70 of them and want to donate what to do.
There should be technical workshop for Commons organized soon.
One thing needs to be noted, the people who are doing something great and creative, they are unaware about these things. You should do something to reach them. I see many artists in the city who don’t know about this and there should be a strategy for outreach to artist community here in North India. How can knowledge about Wikimedia be made accessible to them. I appreciate this effort that has been made by Diwan and Wikimedia group.
There is something to be seen about this dilemma, the artists who don’t have general knowledge or technical know-how to contribute to Wikimedia but have something significant work to share with the world, how we can involve them - that is very important.
We need more conferences like these to bring a wider audience in touch with Wikimedia.

Future Collaborations Suggested[edit]

Government college of art, Chandigarh
Government college of architecture, chandigarh
Government college of fine arts


My concern is about the notifying what if our work is used by someone/somewhere on it is published in printed media. How would we benefit if we are not aware about it.
My major concern is about reuse and editing of the artwork.
I am deaf (hearing aid needed).
If I upload my artworks, how will I be assured by some other person who claims to benefit from it by claiming to be the creator of it.
Main concern is how safe is it to upload our work, how it benefits to share our work apart from being part of social services, how safe it is to share our ideas and thoughts.

Other Comments[edit]

Knowledge should be free and shared.
I believe that the joy of our endeavour multiplies when we share it with others.
When we are talking about paintings and sculptures, Wikimedia Commons can be a very powerful platform for new artists to showcase their work to the global community.
People are coming on Commons to check out the work. The kind of exposure that a work can get from this can be helpful for them to earn recognition which otherwise would remain hidden in a gallery somewhere. Someone who is checking out their work from Commons can feel inspired and find the artists and buy their work.
I appreciate this conference. Creativity needs to be shared. There was a famous philosopher called carl arjun, who used to say, “There is a connective unconscious in each person.” That means the desire to share, and without that unconsciousness, your creativity sometimes does not blows up. I think it is an opportunity and I was really looking forward to be part of this campaign. And I will associate myself one or the other way.
There is something to be seen about this dilemma, the artists who don’t have general knowledge or technical know-how to contribute to Wikimedia but have something significant work to share with the world, how we can involve them - that is very important.
We all aspire to hold an exhibition and show our work to the world. We spend a lot of money on preparing that exhibition (lakhs of rupees), publish a catalogue. We made a catalogue for punjab lalit kala academy - cost us 200000 rupees. Even if we sell it for 200 rupees per catalogue, nobody buys it. We have distributed it free of cost. We want to show it to others, that’s why we do it. Even if there is an established artist, nobody purchases it. Painting and works of art are purchased by some individuals, but mostly they want people to look at it and enjoy it free of cost. In India, there is mostly no gallery fee in art exhibitions, mostly it is free.
The only question is, when you upload on wikimedia commons, somebody can legally use your image.
In the exhibitions, people carry mobiles, they can click the pictures, they can share it everywhere. It is happening all the time. But why don’t we become more liberal, and legalize it - it’s happening anyways so why not control the sharing in a structured manner via Commons. When people share on social media and other platforms, they don't acknowledge the artist. But on Wikimedia Commons, they have to share the attribution properly.
In whatsapp, usually people forward it over and over - created by whom - the artist attribution is lost in the process.
Old artists, as they grow older, get a lot of work piling up and there is not enough space in our homes and studios. We do not even have methodology, that my work should go to this person after I die. Even the websites that we have, as long as we keep spending resources to keep them live, and keep the domain name and server each year, it will continue till we maintain it. After we are gone, it will vanish as well. Wikimedia however will continue running unless some new technology comes and replaces it.
The copyright of the work, remains with the original author. Someone wants to use it in a book without attributing you, they will have to reach you that we want to use it without attribution, we want to pay you for its usage. CC License give you permission to use that work attributing in a way the author wants you to.
This is the first time any such conference was organized with artist community and wikimedia together for the goal of shared human knowledge with creative commons. We hope we have repetition of this workshop, so that this movement grows and we can start seeing its effects more prominently in India.


What worked well at the event[edit]

(Parameters:Program, Venue, Logitics, Miscellaneous)

  • The event was organized in collaboration with Punjab Lalit Kala Akademy, Punjab Arts Council, Open Heritage Foundation, and Wikimedia Commons Community, project Heritage GLAM, powered by WMF. The conference was devised for artist community who are non-wikimedians to make them aware about free knowledge movement and open access movement at large. The collaboration with different partners helped us in getting the right kind of audience we were aiming for. Some of the people present there included, Diwan Manna, Manjot Kaur, Ravinder Sharma, GLAM Staff, some other prominent painters, photographers, calligraphists, sculptors and deans and head of Government Arts College, Chandigarh.
  • There was a good media coverage at the event and there were press interviews before the event as well, which helped us cover national, local and online mass media in around 8 different news portals. This allowed us to not just promote the event pre and post conference but also gave us an opportunity to spread a word around about the Wikimedia movement and the Commons community endeavors for awareness of general public as well as the artists who were not able to come due to long distance.
  • We had renowned artists Diwan Manna and Manjot Kaur who were the spokesperson of Wikimedia movement at the Conference. Apart from that, we also showed clips of Artists N. A. Naseer and Kalyan Varma.
  • Over three fourth of the attendees are ready to donate their work to Commons. We are figuring out if we should wait for the Commons workshop or we should connect them independently with OTRS statements.

What did not work so well[edit]

  • We wanted to invite some prominent artists from distant parts of India who are the open source advocates in India. But due to short notice, they were unable to attend the event.
  • We had Wikimedia volunteers from our side documenting the event with photographs but the videography was from the Punjab Lalit Kala Akademy and the editing of the event videography along with video interviews may take another couple months.

What would you do differently next time?[edit]

  • Will plan the event in advance so we can invite all the artists from far-away locations as well.
  • Since this was first of its kind event in India, the response was overwhelmingly gracious from the artist community. This has made us realize that we need to do more outreach for awareness for such GLAM events and collaborations. It is the need of the hour and support that is needed to expand and develop open access movement and Wikimedia Movement in India.

Next Steps[edit]

During the discussions, it was observed that we need to do set up a Commons resource exchange group in the North India for the artist community, who want to collaborate with Wikimedia and donate their work to Commons. For that, we need to series of Commons workshop, which we have set to be organized in the near future. There were over 60-70 attendees and over, many artists were willing to donate their work to Commons. Following our discussions, we are doing a follow up and will have the outcome for the donations soon. It was also observed that there is no awareness among the institutions and local artists about Wikimedia movement. There needs to be more outreach done for raising awareness about the Commons and free knowledge movement and more conscious efforts need to be done to bring the artists in Wikimedia movement.