Research commissioned by Arts Council Englandinto the Livelihoods of Visual Artists revealed that artists earn an average of GB£16,150 per year but only GB£6,020 of this is derived from their art practice. Indeed, two-thirds earn less than GB£5,000 from their art. The research findings, undertaken in 2016, suggest little has changed to address the historical reality that the majority of artists need to take other employment to supplement their income (see chapter 2.3).
Another issue for artists has been the loss of studios and creative workspaces due to rent increases as a result of rising land and property values. The problem has been particularly acute in London. A 2016 report, Making Space: Developing and Sustaining Affordable Artists’ Studios and Creative Workspaces suggests artists are being forced to relocate to other cities often driven out, ironically, of areas they have helped to regenerate. Another report, Creative tensions: Optimising the benefits of culture through regeneration, released a year later by the London Assembly Regeneration Committee, suggests that as many as 3,500 artists could lose their workspace in the Capital due to the “gentrification” of some districts fuelling property rises that artists can no longer afford. The report was a contribution to the development of the Strategic Plan for London.
ACE’s priorities for the visual arts in its Corporate priorities 2018-20 are to support the sector to maximise the Government’s Museums and Galleries Tax relief scheme to promote touring exhibitions nationally and internationally, and to collaborate with heritage and other non-arts agencies to facilitate new commissioning opportunities. It will also be managing change to the Arts Council Collection of important contemporary British art, as well as reviewing support for disabled artists.
Policy priorities of the Arts Council of Wales in 2019 for those of its portfolio organisations in the visual and applied arts include: creating innovative work of the highest quality and relevant to audiences; presenting programmes that reflect best practice; developing strong public engagement programmes and audience development work; forging strategic partnerships, particularly for touring, co-commissioning, developing international work and supporting talent and professional development; being financially sustainable; and operating to a high standard of governance and leadership.
All public sculpture in UK museums, galleries, public squares and parks etc. in towns and cities are being put on what is believed to be the world’s first free online database of such work by Art UK. A lottery grant of GB£2.8 million will enable ART UK to catalogue some 170,000 works by 2020. The organisation has previously digitised over 200,000 oil paintings from the national collections.
A Government Indemnity Scheme provides free insurance cover for galleries and museums borrowing art for exhibition (see chapter 3.1).
a-n The Artists Information Company is the largest artist membership organisation in the UK and a sector specific support organisation funded by ACE for 2018-22. It seeks to stimulate and support contemporary visual arts practice and the value of artists in society through advocacy and information. Artquest uses research about the working conditions of visual artists, career obstacles etc. to develop the professional information and advice they need. The Art Fund is a charity that makes grants to museums and galleries especially for art acquisitions (see chapter 3.1).
Estimates of the size and value of the crafts sector differ considerably between the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and that produced from research by the Crafts Council. DCMS Economic Estimates, June 2019, estimated the number of crafts jobs in the UK creative industries in 2018 to be 10,000. The largest number of crafts jobs are outside the creative industries, a figure that DCMS estimated to be 88,000 in 2014, but no longer publishes. However, research published by the Crafts Council, Measuring the Craft Economy, of March 2015, put the total employed in crafts in the UK to be 182,860. According to DCMS the crafts contribution in Gross Value Added to the UK economy in 2017 was GB£298 million, but using different assessment approaches, the Crafts Council estimated that businesses involved in the crafts industry contributed GB£746 million in GVA, with an additional GB£243 million generated by craft occupations in other creative industries and GB£2.41 billion of GVA generated by craft occupations in non-creative enterprises. This suggests very different approaches to defining what a crafts job is and measuring the sector. The DCMS Economic Estimates referred to previously indicate that craft goods worth GB£4.84 billion were exported from the UK in 2017.
The Crafts Council was granted a Royal Charter in 1982 ‘to advance and encourage the creation and conservation of works of fine craftsmanship and to foster, promote and increase the interest of the public […] and the accessibility of those works to the public in England and Wales’. It is funded via ACE and also generates income from its activities, including its annual COLLECT trade fair. The Crafts Council Collection has more than 1,600 objects of contemporary craft. In 2019, the Council published an Exploratory study into social enterprise and craft in conjunction with Wrexham Glyndwr University, which seeks to extend understanding of the power of crafts to transform communities. It has also contracted consultants Morris Hargreaves McIntyre to undertake a study of the UK market for craft, with eight other partners including the Arts Council of Wales.