Paid in Exposure: Artcaffe Responds to Outcry

The Artcaffe logo displayed as one of its locations
The Artcaffe logo displayed as one of its locations

UPDATE Wednesday, August 5, 2020 12:00 P.M: Artcaffe issued a statement announcing cash prizes for winners in its cup design competition, after coming under fire for promising winners exposure and a year's supply of coffee.

Under the new guidelines, the winning designer will receive a Ksh100,000 cash prize or free daily coffee for a year. They will also be offered a paid internship with the Artcaffe design team for two months.

Runners up will get a cash prize of Ksh50,000 while the second runners-up will receive a Ksh30,000 cash prize.

A popular restaurant chain, Artcaffe, came under fire from a section of Kenyans on Tuesday, August 4, re-igniting a long-running debate on what amounts to sufficient reward for creatives.

The restaurant announced an art and design competition, looking for exciting new designs for its take-away cups.

Winners are to be rewarded with the opportunity to have their art displayed in one of the restaurant's locations or a chance to intern with their creative team. In addition, they will be entitled to a year's supply of coffee, redeemable at one cup a day.

The competition announcement sparked an outcry from a section of Kenyans online who pushed the company to offer a monetary reward instead.

They claimed that creatives had long been paid in 'exposure', which couldn't pay their bills.

Inside the Artcaffe restaurant at Village Market, Nairobi
Inside the Artcaffe restaurant at Village Market, Nairobi

Contacted by on Wednesday, August 5, a representative for the chain asserted that they would not be offering different rewards.

"We're aware of the reaction to the announcement but the rules for the competition remain the same," the source stated.

The 'exposure' debate has long raged across the country, with creatives including photographers, visual artists, dancers and musicians insisting that they suffered as a result of being promised exposure for gigs as opposed to being paid in cash.

Not everyone, however, agrees with this school of thought as many other argue that exposure allows creatives to secure other lucrative opportunities in the future.

Among them was rapper and entrepreneur Juliani, real name Julius Owino, who noted that the opportunity at Artcaffe, for instance, would look good on an artist's portfolio.

"The problem with Artcaffe is wording and timing. If i was a young designer: a Win/display of my work, on my portfolio looks good as I apply for other assignments. Free coffee and free working space for a year. All this depends on other values I see besides KSH," he noted.

He maintained, however, that he believed in paying creatives accordingly for their work.

"Kenyans are so weird. Anywhere else this opportunity would be appreciated. Exposure can be way more beneficial than money," wrote Aimee Crowl.

Those who questioned Artcaffe's competition noted that the cost of the free coffee for a year could have been a cash payment to the winner, citing the tough times many Kenyans are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"If you're a winner and all you're getting is free coffee in exchange for your work, then the prize is coffee. Do better," wrote Eric Mugendi.

Why not just update the competition to offer prize money in addition to the exposure and coffee? You are attempting to defend the indefensible and I don't think it's working," suggested one Roomthinker.

File image of Artcaffe coffee cups
File image of Artcaffe coffee cups




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