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Support for artists’ liveli­hoods in a Covid-19 world

This submission was made in June 2020 to the DCMS Committee consid­ering the impact of Covid-19 on any sectors under the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s remit. It contex­tu­alises artists’ livelihood frame­works and sectoral artistic and economic oppor­tunity, highlighting key challenges and barriers faced by this particular sub-section of the creative indus­tries. It evidences the distinctive limita­tions of short-term emergency measures from Government and the Arts Council to alleviate immediate Covid19 circum­stances. Although arts policy margin­alised support for artists’ liveli­hoods after the 2008 recession, the examples of artists’ individ­u­alised resilience strategies illus­trate the scope and value of supportive inter­ven­tions by policy relevant to forecasting new strategies for amelio­rating the medium and longer-term effects of the pandemic on this vital, distinctive creative indus­tries sub-section. The rationale for struc­tural changes in imple­men­tation of arts policy and funding is to remove known barriers and better in future capture and amplify the assets that artists create for their own resilience and bring to social well-being over a life-cycle. 

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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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Artists work in 2016

This Research paper commis­sioned by a‑n The Artists Infor­mation Company is part of a series which first began in 2007 as a means of providing on-going evidence and insight on the context for, and nature of, employment for visual artists. By refer­encing data from prior years, Artists work in 2016 identifies the impli­ca­tions of changes in the condi­tions for artists’ employment and liveli­hoods and proposes some areas for consid­er­ation by those charged with formu­lating policy and measuring the economic and social impact of the arts.

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Are the creative indus­tries good for artists?

Ever since the early days of New Labour in 1997, it’s been government and arts policy to integrate and progress devel­opment of the visual arts through the creative industry umbrella and to embrace its economic imper­a­tives. As this situation is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, through my new research I’m addressing some key questions. Do these indus­tries provide a conducive environment in which visual artists can make a living and develop their careers? Are the condi­tions and employment practices more favourable to ways of working by some artists while others lose out?

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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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