Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by Artists Interaction and Representation (AIR) (arts 43)

Artists Interaction and Representation (AIR) is pleased to submit to the Committee on Culture, Media and Sport’s Inquiry into the Funding of arts and heritage. We would welcome the opportunity to present evidence in person to the Committee in due course.

1 - About AIR

1.1 AIR was established in 2007 as a membership body for practising visual and applied

artists. With over 15,000 members, AIR seeks to promote the central role of the artist within a diverse and sustainable cultural landscape. As the voice of visual and applied artists, AIR identifies and explores issues that impact on artists' practice, and campaigns for artistic, legislative and economic measures that enhance artists’ working lives and their professional status.

1.2 Whilst AIR is not publicly funded, its members’ practice is enabled through a mixture of

public, private and educational financial sources. This submission aims to highlight the circumstances faced by its members by reduction in public funding whilst suggesting alternative distribution methods.

2 - What impact recent and future spending cuts from central and local Government will have on the arts and heritage at the national and local level.

2.1 Government investment through the Arts Council has traditionally provided support programmes for artists and institutions, but recent cuts are jeopardising the ability of the creative industries to play the leadership role that the world clearly expects them to play. The proposed cuts will have a significant impact on the sector which will be more costly to the economy than the minimal amount of money that will be saved if they are implemented. Jobs will be lost, institutions will close their doors, and the UK will be in danger of losing its position at the forefront as a destination for culture and tourism.

2.2 While the arts community accepts that cuts are inevitable across all levels of society, AIR asserts that the proposed cuts will create a huge economic crisis for artists in particular , who are a largely self-employed sector that relies on access to multiple sources of income and finance to sustain their own career and business development , and community engagement . Seventy-two percent of visual artists are largely self-employed, verses the average self-employment in the creative industries of 41%.

2.3 Most artists manage several jobs on short-term contracts to support their artistic practice, and even then, many will struggle. This distracts energies from creative pursuits that provide millions in economic benefits to Britain’s economy and countless spin-off and social benefits.

2.4 Artists’ livelihoods are inherently resilient as they operate as ‘micro businesses’. Many visual art professionals are self-employed with portfolio careers in education, regeneration, the health service or within the voluntary sector, for example. A 25% cut in two separate areas of public expenditure may quickly amount to a drastic reduction in paid work for a self-employed artist. Artists will likely continue to make work with less public support. However, many small cuts from different sources lead to a very big wound, to the detriment of the communities and clients their work serves. Furthermore, the lack of savings and pension funds1 is greater amongst artists than in the workforce as a whole.

2.5 Arts funding improves artists’ economic potential in a multitude of ways. Employing their transferrable skills, artists often work at exhibition venues as employees, where staff redundancy and museum closures are now likely. Artists may also receive public grants to create new work to share with and engage their community, and funding levels to individuals are already low.

2.6 Artists exhibit work in galleries and festivals, and if galleries are not forced to close through the proposed cuts, they will undoubtedly reduce their exhibitions and associated programmes. This means fewer opportunities for artists to show and sell their work, and for the public to enjoy or buy works of art and participate in gallery education programmes. Based on previous research, it can be estimated that the average artist achieves 15,000 direct visitors to their projects and exhibitions annually, and thus artists play a major role in audience development.

2.7 Before the latest cuts were announced, openly-advertised opportunities for artists had already begun to decline. The average value of a paid opportunity for artists has reduced by 50% since 2007 . 2 Recent data indicates that the value of employment opportunities for professional artists has already declined by 27%, when compared with pre-recession data from 2007. It is anticipated that 1 in 6 posts in universities will be lost – a worrying figure as universities are the ‘top employers’ of vi sual artists and play a key role in training the next generation of artists.

2.8 While arts organis ations in England were able to appeal in 2009/10 for additional funding through Sustain , due to the economic downturn, grants to artists were not similarly enhanced . A rtists , as sole traders , received no additional governmental support at a time when they needed it most. It seems that a rtists’ social enterprises are not being valued.

2.9 A sustainable investment in the arts and heritage sector will improve Britain’s economic recovery. There is considerable data supporting the value of the cultural economy in the UK. For every £1 that is invested, £2 is returned to the greater economy. From a purely economic standpoint, it does not make good financial sense to cut programmes that double the return on investment, and which cost so little to begin with. The arts budget costs a mere 17p per person/week. British tourism relies heavily on arts and culture, valued at £86 billion in 2007, or 3.7% of the GDP. It also directly employed 1.4 million people. Between 1997 and 2006 the creative economy grew faster than any other sector.3

3 - What arts organisations can do to work more closely together in order to reduce duplication of effort and to make economies of scale.

3.1 The arts sustain and inspire a population in difficult times. Communities are able to attract and retain skilled workers whose commitment to place and sense of quality of life in their community help build vibrant towns and cities. The social benefits of participation in the arts include personal development, social cohesion, community empowerment, local image and identity, enhanced imagination and vision, and health and well being. The arts express the British values of diversity, tolerance and multiculturalism. They are a critical building block as our children build shared citizenship and understand one another. The benefits of arts programmes for young people also include improved communication, literacy and numeracy skills.

3.2 The visual arts community has already demonstrated the value of working more closely together, in order to reduce duplication and strengthen partnerships. In particular, AIR partners with Artelier (Artquest), DACS, and with regional networks of artists. AIR is an accredited collecting society for DACS Payback and supports the DACS campaign for artists’ resale rights to be extended to the estates of deceased artists. AIR is also a member of the European Council of Artists, participating in pan-European discussions and contributing to campaigns on legislative and economic change for the benefit of practitioners.

3.3 We are convening a meeting of national artists’ organisations in September, to explore creative and flexible ways in which we might work together for the benefit of our collective members, minimising any duplication and maximising our visibility. The goal is to identify shared ambitions as well as to highlight uniqueness and best practice. We feel it is timely in the current environment for the arts to envision new and different ways to collaborate, and make the very best use of our combined knowledge and expertise.

3.4. Artists present a model for a networked practice that could be more widely adopted across the sector. 75% of AIR members are active within artists’ networks and cite communication and exchange with like-minded people as an important part of pursuing a professional practice. The recently-launched AIR Activists programme is designed through access to knowledge and training to inform and empower very many artists to "speak for themselves." It provides a platform for artists to assert themselves in local and regional arts decision-making as well as in national arenas in which arts and cultural policy is formed.

4 - Whether the current system and structure of funding distribution is the right one.

4.1 Research shows that funds awarded to an artist are returned directly to their practice, despite the assumption that funding to individuals is more ‘risky’ because their actions are not governed by an accountability structure (as with non-profit/charitable organisations). Seventy-two percent of artists are self employed4 and tend to spend 25% more time on a project than they have estimated in a proposal or application, usually because this enables them to push their practice further than they might do on the funds available. This additional time is ‘sponsored’ by the artist. It is important to note that the success rate for artists’ funding applications is low, with as little as 1 in 10 being realised.

4.2 Support to artists works well when it is centred and personalised to their practice and career development. Access to financing that is not attached to audience participation is a vital part of moving from being an emerging to mid-career artist, and in achieving financial viability. Where funding is tied tightly into specific expectations and requires the outcomes from a funded period to be articulated prior to the research or project taking place, it undermines the need for experimentation and risk that is inherent within artists’ practice, and a prerequisite for innovation.

4.3 It is demonstrated that peer-led funding schemes often work best for artists, as they automatically encompass the critique and exchange that assists to improve the quality of art, and raise artists’ aspirations for their practice. The impact of funding to an individual artist is shared across their networks and contacts, and thus ‘a small amount of money goes a long way’. Funding to groups of artists and networks for self-determined development, such as exhibitions and performances, have been proven to assist not only in the artist’s own development but in widening access to and understanding of the arts within peer networks, and across the matrix of ‘audiences’ that an artist reaches within a portfolio practice.

4.4 The value of awards and fellowships to artists has dropped 40% since 20075, due to the impact of the recession on public and charitable funds. Awards are crucial to secure the professional development that improves their work and aids their career development. They recognis e the achievement of local artists in our community, and celebrate their contributions to society through their work, and allow citizens to celebrate with them.

4.5 An alternative method of providing arts funding to artists would be to devolve funding to national and regional expert and peer organisations. Clarity of expectation for such devolved funding would be essential, and systems would need to be scalable, with online reporting, tracking and analysis to ease artists’ administration time and fast feedback. AIR would advocate for such developments, informed by effective programmes such as the artist-led NAN initiative6 that has successfully distributed peer-reviewed funds to artists through networks since 2004. Successful schemes have also been run by Live Art Development Agency, Artsadmin, Wysing Arts (Escalator) and artists’ studio groups.

5 - What impact recent changes to the distribution of National Lottery funds will have on arts and heritage organisations.

No comment as this is not AIR’s particular area of knowledge

6 - Whether policy guidelines for National Lottery funding need to be revised.

No comment as this is not AIR’s particular area of knowledge

7 - The impact of recent changes to the DCMS’s arm’s length bodies – in particular to the abolition of the UK Film Council and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

No comment as this is not AIR’s particular area of knowledge

8 - Whether businesses and philanthropists can play a long-term role in funding the arts at a national and local level.

8.1 Much has been said about the search for private investment to make up the shortfall in public funding. While the sector is actively looking into increasing funding from private and corporate support, it becomes that much more difficult to achieve if it is not adequately matched by public funding. Private funding for the arts is already higher than public support, which exacerbates an imbalance of support for infrastructures. It has been said that for every £1 that the Arts Council England invests, an additional £2 is generated from private and commercial sources, totalling £3 income.7 This demonstrates their existing commitment to arts funding, but if there is decreased investment in public funding, it does not inspire the trust of private investors, who may now be similarly strapped for additional funds.

8.2 Public funding to artists to carry out their projects is spent within and therefore directly benefits a local economy. Case studies show that grant investment into artists’ collaborations and initiatives is matched and extended by up to 60% through additional resources such as sponsorship, funds from charitable trusts, in-kind support and various categories of earned income.

Note: Submission researched and compiled for AIR by April Britski , Director of CARFAC (Canadian Artists Representation / Le Front des artists canadiens , www.carfac.ca ) whilst on secondment to AIR, supporting implementation of its developmen t and representation strategies. I t is presented on behalf of the AIR Advisory Group (Council) of artists.

September 2010


[1] Findings from the Pensions for Artists research showed that 70% of artists do not have a pension, compared to the UK working population where 44% do not have a pension .

[2] Data provided by a-n The Artists Information Company’s surveys since 1989 of openly-advertised jobs and opportunities and employment prospects for artists.

[3] Statistical data provided by ACE: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/about-us/why-arts-matter/

[4] AIR survey 2009

[5] Artwork survey 2009, a-n The Artists Information Company www.a-n.co.uk

[6] http://www.a-n.co.uk/nan - evaluation reports available on request

[7] Statistical data provided by ACE: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/about-us/why-arts-matter/