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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’ 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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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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Creativity at the heart: the holistic approach

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. Links updated 17/05/2018

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