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.
This doctoral thesis examines the positioning of visual arts within the creative industries through an in-depth, empirical study of the artistic and personal lives of a discrete cohort of artists in North West England. It argues that the policy elision of visual arts with the creative industries has resulted in lack of in-depth knowledge of the ‘wealth of differences’ in motives, intentions, attitudes and personal circumstances of artists as they evolve and pursue livelihoods through art practices over a life-cycle.
Although certain Arts Council England policies during 1985 – 2015 intended to aid artists’ livelihoods directly or indirectly, analysis confirms that no real change was effected. Over that period, visual artists have tended to be at an economic disadvantage with low incomes and lack of accessible opportunity undermining their ability to amplify creative processes and sustain livelihoods in the longer-term.
This research which draws together primary and secondary sources demonstrates that the art practices of artists are characterised by continuous practice-led ‘research and development’ fired by deeply-held beliefs and intrinsically-framed values and punctuated by creative interactions within and beyond their immediate artistic disciplinary context and geographical location.
Frameworks supportive of artists usually remain close to where they reside, encompassing the artistic encouragement and emotional comfort provided by families and individually-framed development and professional relationships. The fine-grain analysis and triangulation with cross-reference to relevant evidence developed within this research has generated new theory on the interrelated conditions conducive for, and supportive of, artists’ practices and livelihoods including a definition of their characteristics and the parameters.
The thesis concludes by setting out two bold propositions for enabling and facilitating these optimum conditions involving radical adjustments to framing and applying arts policies in future.
Artists’ livelihoods: the artists in arts policy conundrum, 2019 is available at http://e‑space.mmu.ac.uk/62635…