What’s it about?
A Fair Share? Direct Funding to Artists, quantifies the amount of funding given directly to artists from each of the four UK arts councils in the years 2009-2010, and 2008-2009. It also summarises the funding streams available to individual artists and the current visual arts priorities of the UK arts councils.
The key finding reveals that surprisingly few individual artists apply for funding in their own right, and even fewer are successful. In England, less than 5% of artists apply in their own name every year, and of those, less than 2.5% are successful. This means that there is little direct funding being given to artists to pursue and develop their own projects, under their own control – under 20% of available funding for the visual arts in England, 14% for Northern Ireland and around 18% for Scotland and Wales in 2009-2010.
The aim of the research is to provide something of a rallying cry. Yes, this is a situation that should be addressed by the various arts councils that seek to support artists’ development within their overall policies. But it is arguably also the responsibility of individual artists to overcome feelings of disinclination, demotivation and whatever else may be preventing them, and to put together more and better applications for the considerable funding that is still available.
It is not radical to suggest that individual artists could and should get a bigger slice of the funding cake than they currently do, and that many more of them should be directly funded because of the value their practice brings to arts policy delivery. But the fact that they don’t highlights the urgent need to properly understand and address what isn’t working with the current systems, and take any actions necessary to improve them.
There is a request for comments in response to this research, particularly if you are an artist, about your own experience of the arts funding systems and your perceptions of it. Feel free to use this blog, or comment directly onto the a-n site immediately underneath the report.
Also published this week is Understanding Turning Point, originally a national visual arts initiative from ACE, devolved to regional groups. Understanding Turning Points is a briefing paper is for anyone interested in understanding more about what Turning Point is and does.
Friday 11th November: I was delighted to hear that the Guardian’s Tom Service cited A Fair Share and AIR’s Big Artists Survey in his quite magnificent speech at the recent Paul Hamlyn Awards for Artists and Composers, republished on his Guardian blog here. This research is meant to be used - as information, advocacy and encouragement for intervention and change. That it exists at all is entirely down to the brilliant strategic thinking, intelligence, drive and passion of Susan Jones, the director and publisher of a-n The Artist Information Company. That the research is needed is demonstrated by its use in this instance, (and other instances that won’t make the pages of a national newspaper). But the significance lies in the fact that in a speech whose focus was musicians and composers, visual arts research was used, suggesting that the evidence has not been compiled for other art-forms. Susan Jones has had the foresight and skill to commission this and other pieces of work almost before the sector – and other art form sectors – know that it’s needed. I’d say that right now a-n is ahead of the field, with more insight to come. I’d recommend that anyone with an interest in the visual arts sector should watch the a-n virtual and magazine space.