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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

Read “Treating the rash or investing in a cure: the future of artists’ livelihoods” in full


From myths to motility: doing better by artists

This is a moment fraught with possi­bility.” Isabelle Tracy, Parallel State: State of the Nation podcast 27 March 2020

This fourth text in the Covid19 portfolio is on the future of artists’ liveli­hoods. It starts by evidencing the impact of external trends on visual artists’ liveli­hoods. It then identifies some of the policy misas­sump­tions and struc­tural barriers that limit artists’ livelihood prospects before demon­strating that visual artists as a special case’ within the arts workforce are deserving of individ­u­alised attention within arts policies. It concludes by outlining the core qualities for pursuit of liveli­hoods through art practices that enable many artists to contribute to society over a life-cycle as a point of reference for policy-making during the Covid19 emergency and into the uncertain decade ahead. 

Read “From myths to motility: doing better by artists” in full


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. 

Read “Artists’ emergency: arts policy’s role in the future of artists’ livelihoods” in full


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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The chance to dream: why fund individual artists?

Although not a major aspect of artists’ liveli­hoods, grants and awards to artists are a vital contributor to sustaining art practices over a life-cycle. This paper starts by outlining the benefits of direct funding to individual artists, describes differing arts policy perspec­tives on this in England over the last thirty years and provides a case study of Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts Scheme 2003 – 14 before making an argument for new, nuanced, localised approaches to nurturing and supporting the wider constituency of visual artists and diversity of art practices in future.

Read “The chance to dream: why fund individual artists?” in full


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.

Read “Enforcement, equanimity and an afterword – thoughts on sustaining fair pay for artists” in full