This paper combines arguments first presented by Susan Jones at an engage annual conference in which she questioned the efficacy of our institutionally-driven visual arts ecology with new research and enquiry into future cultural, digital and social environments for the arts. It calls for adoption of a more open, imaginative, lateral, collaborative and responsive approaches to creating cultural value, premised on building relationships and rapport with the different kinds and bandwidths of audiences and with the enablers and the makers of art.
This provocation commissioned by Stoke Airspace for an Artists’ Soup Kitchen addresses and confirms the importance of the role and value of artists within cultural and social change. The four sections are designed to open up a discussion on ‘what now?’ and – more importantly – ‘what next?’ for Airspace and artists and future artists located in Stoke.
This audio presentation by Susan Jones at Work and Art, CRATE, UCA Canterbury, March 2015, considers the climate for visual artists’ practice and their artists’ ability to make a living. By referencing evidence and data from arts and cultural sources over the last thirty years and considering insight from future forecasting, it identifies prevailing issues surrounding support to artists within the public sector. It concludes by articulating some of the inherent issues and challenges within the current and future ecology for artists and the contemporary visual arts that need to be addressed by public funders and the sector alike.
In this paper I am using comparative data as a backdrop to my commentary that is designed to illuminate a discussion on whether there are ‘Too many artists?’, raising a range of issues, questions and (mis)perceptions - in part about the role of artists in life in general and the impact of state intervention and arts policy-making in particular.
Even in countries with well-developed fee and pay systems, artists’ low wages remain a problem few are willing to address.