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Artists’ liveli­hoods in freefall

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 freelance visual artists will suffer worst unless additional remedial actions are taken.

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Treating the rash or investing in a cure: the future of artists’ livelihoods

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

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An excep­tional case: visual artists and self-employment

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. 

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Artists’ emergency: arts policy’s role in the future of artists’ livelihoods

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. 

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Do it all, for artists’ sake, now

After an intro­duction to the specific economic circum­stances of visual artists and, mindful of the wide and extensive impacts of the pandemic on their work prospects and liveli­hoods, this text in the Covid-19 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. 

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Artists’ liveli­hoods: the artists in arts policy conundrum

Doctoral research 2015 – 19 that gathered quali­tative evidence from artists in North West England to define 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.

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Enforcement, equanimity and an afterword – thoughts on sustaining fair pay for artists

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.

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Rethinking artists: the role of artists in the 21st Century

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.

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A case for the arts

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.

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