Skip to main content

Artists’ pre­car­i­ty not just about pay

In the pan­dem­ic, gov­ern­ment and Arts Coun­cil Eng­land built a defen­sive hedge around the most vis­i­ble aspects of the arts infra­struc­ture. Staffers in insti­tu­tions got time, space and mon­ey to address frag­ile busi­ness mod­els and secure their futures. How­ev­er, the emer­gency arts fund­ing schemes for free­lance artists failed to address their artis­tic, emo­tion­al and liveli­hood needs. 

Read “Artists’ precarity not just about pay” in full


Artists’ pan­dem­ic stories

The exclu­sive and short-term emer­gency arts fund­ing schemes from gov­ern­ment and Arts Coun­cil Eng­land to free­lance artists failed to address their liveli­hood needs, with the major­i­ty allowed to fall through the cracks. Ear­ly evi­dence from a lon­gi­tu­di­nal study sur­pris­ing­ly demon­strates that the lives and artis­tic prospects of many artists pos­i­tive­ly improved in pan­dem­ic con­di­tions. This offers clues to the sub­stan­tial shifts in arts infra­struc­tures nec­es­sary to hon­our and sus­tain the tal­ents and vibran­cy of the diverse artists’ con­stituen­cy in future.

Read “Artists' pandemic stories” in full


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.

Read “Artists’ livelihoods in freefall” in full


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. 

Read “Support for artists' livelihoods in a Covid-19 world” in full


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 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


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 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. 

Read “An exceptional case: visual artists and self-employment” 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. 

Read “Do it all, for artists’ sake, now” in full