Government and Arts Council England were praised in the Covid19 emergency for fast implementation of ad hoc strategies for financial support for arts and cultural institutions and job retention schemes for salaried staff. Despite the equality and diversity rhetorics of the funded arts, analysis of responses to the DCMS Inquiry into the Impact of Covid-19 reveal that individual visual artists who are a vital tranche of the arts workforce will suffer worst unless substantial remedial actions are taken to challenge and disrupt the arts equilibrium.
“We cannot be content to go back to what was before, as if all is normal… there needs to be a resurrection of our common life.” Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Easter sermon – opined from the Archbishop's kitchen and disseminated via social media to some 18,000 people – provided the cue for a discussion on how to ensure artists’ survival in an arts and cultural environment poleaxed by Covid-19.
Although 77% of visual artists are registered as self-employed (CCS, 2012), this bald statistic belies the nuance of how livelihoods are made up. This short text in the Covid19 portfolio on contextualises artists’ income sources and concludes with a call for arts funders, arts organisations and the Higher Education sector to advocate strongly to ensure visual artists receive the support they deserve during the Covid19 emergency and in future.
“We must see the cultural ecosystem in which every person, every organisation, every cultural expression, has a legitimate place.” Francois Matarasso, Let’s use this breathing space wisely, 25 March 2020
Strategic arts policy funding interventions premised on equality and co-operation are key to sustaining visual artists’ livelihoods over a life-cycle. This text in the Covid19 portfolio combines secondary data analysis with cross-references to prior and new research to offer six reference points for the economic value of artists’ practices within the arts and creative industries including indication of their income sources in broad terms. It concludes with an argument for vital new structural arts policy and advocacy measures to ensure that many visual artists – not just a few - survive through the immediate period of the Covid19 emergency and during what is likely to be a sustained period of economic recession beyond.
After an introduction to the specific economic circumstances of visual artists and, mindful of the wide and extensive impacts of the Corona virus pandemic on their work prospects and livelihoods, this text in the Covid19 portfolio includes a four-point ‘hopeful proposal’ that sets out how to ensure artists survive the fall out, and can bring their multiple values to benefit the arts and society in the decade ahead.
Doctoral research 2015-19 that gathered qualitative evidence from artists in North West England about conducive conditions for pursuing art practices and livelihoods over time. Includes critique of arts policies in England 1985-2015 intended to be supportive of artists and new insights into barriers to sustaining artists' livelihoods in future. Updated 21/01/2020
Introduction to fees to artists for exhibiting in public with examples indicating that sustaining such schemes is dependent on widespread and continued acceptance of the principle and rigorous self-regulation within the sector, and on gaining suitable levels of public subsidy to the visual arts. Three financing options are considered in support of equanimity. An afterword considers whether in a political climate of reduced subsidy to the public sector, some new strategies are needed to finance the arts and artists’ contributions. Updated 16/08/16
This listing that includes commentary, evidence and advice provides a selected reading list for artists and those who work with them to explore the issues and concerns about artists and pay as part of negotiating the terms of exchange and collaboration. Updated 01/07/2017
This essay for the 2014 Seoul Art Space, Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture International Symposium briefly covers UK arts policies for support to artists’ development, comments on their impact on artists’ social and economic status and suggests a rethinking of the artists’ intrinsic role in society as a vital part of securing and sustaining contemporary visual arts in the future.
In reaction to government arts funding cuts, Leeds Metropolitan University in partnership with Culture Vulture and the Audience Agency, initiated a public debate at which a panel of industry experts debated what arts funding is for and who is most deserving of it. A short provocation by Susan Jones argued for more recognition and resources for artists and individuals to counteract the slow, ponderousness of institutions whether for the arts or otherwise. View the whole event including the audience 'question time' at the end using the link provided.