Artwork in 2007
Art work in 2007
Text-only version of a-n Research paper: Art work in 2007 with live weblinks.
Review of work for visual artists
An advantage for a-n of regularly researching and publishing information on jobs and opportunities for artists is that we achieve a steady accumulation of unique data on visual arts practices and employment prospects of artists. Once analysed, this rich seam of material reveals fascinating evidence of the changing cultural environment for artists practices, which also demonstrates the impact of political and economic strategies on the manifestations of visual art.
During 2004, a-n published a substantial analysis of the working situation for artists in 1989, 1999 and 2003 using the month-by-month opportunities and jobs entries published in a-n Magazine to provide the data1. Such tracking, repeated in 2005, has provided some valuable insights into how policies around the need for art to provide public benefit and contribute to social good have impacted on the nature of funding and thus the income sources through which artists can develop their practice and careers.
Although the methodology we use to draw out the data for our analysis doesnt claim to be an exact science, as it compares like with like counting all opportunities within designated categories and noting all that provide details of financial value we feel it offers a reasonable, broadlybased analysis and commentary on the changing climate for artists work and provides a reference point to raise issues around remuneration.
Whereas in 1989 17% of all opportunities advertised were in the form of awards or fellowships, with an average of £8,542 per award, by 1999 they accounted for 5% and the average value remained largely unchanged. And although by 2005 awards represented 9% of opportunities with an average value of £13,236, in 2007 it had dropped back to 4% and an average value of £5,800.
Similarly, our regular tracking has shown the increasing role public art commissions play as a work and income source for artists. In 1999, the volume of commissions promoted through a-n amounted to 10% of all opportunities and to 20% of their value, with millennium projects playing a large part in the uplift. By 2007, whilst the volume matched 1999 figures, commissions accounted for 63% of the value of all opportunities. Significantly perhaps, the public service aspect of work for artists, that is commissions and residencies, together provided 17% of all opportunities, and 65% of their value.
Here, we present an analysis of the key findings for 2007, concentrating on the areas tracked since 1989 awards and fellowships, commissions, competitions and prizes, exhibitions and residencies.
- The volume of openly offered opportunities and jobs has risen by 63% since 2005.2
- 73% of all opportunities have money attached to them.
- The total value of work offered in 2007 was £26,831,202 rising from £8,774,442, in 2005.2
- Opportunities for commissions have increased in volume by 35% and those for exhibitions have almost doubled in the two-year period.
- Perhaps as a result of organisations assessing where best to place their specialist visual arts posts, growth is also seen in Art vacancies, with an increase of almost 70%.
- Exhibition opportunities continue to make up over a quarter of all opportunities listed and have little stated value attached to them. It is interesting to note that in 1989, when exhibition opportunities accounted for 29% of the total volume, they carried an average cash value of £504. However, by 1999, there was increasing mention within exhibition opportunities of submission fees for artists and of a requirement to take responsibility for the transport and insurance of work. Both of these provisos continue to pertain in 2007.
- Artists greater interest in working abroad has led to development of new sections Beyond the UK and International residencies, and has resulted in 19% of all opportunities on offer during 2007 being in these two categories, in comparison with 8% in 2005.
- Commissions provide 10% of all work openly offered to artists and 63% of the overall value, with an average value of £44,885 (up 152% on 2005).
This growth must in part be due to the work of a-ns Opportunities Development Team and the associated development of www.a-n.co.uk/opportunities that has the capability of both carrying a larger volume of information than in a-n Magazine in print, and capturing many more late-breaking and short notice listings and advertisements.
Whilst public commissions do not generally bring CV points for those artists who seek curatorial authentification, the larger budgets can provide some practitioners with resources to test out new techniques and materials that can support and enhance their gallery-based practice and often include valuable opportunities to work within interdisciplinary teams.3
- The volume of residencies available decreased in 2007 (down 5% from 2005), with the average value of £4,861 barely increased since 2003.
This statistic may in part be due to a gathering trend for residencies to be remunerated in kind, for example offered as free studio or exhibition space or as access to professional development and training.4
Regular residency organisers do provide a useful yardstick on changing levels of remuneration for this area of work. A twelve-week residency in 2007 was offered by Public Art Wales at £600 per week (pro rata of £31,200 per annum), representing a 20% increase on a comparator residency from Artwork Wales in 2005.5
Opportunities Compared 1
Volume and value of opportunities offered to artists in 2003, 2005, 2007:
|Type||No 2003||No 2005||No 2007||Value 2003 (£)||Value 2005 (£)||Value 2007 (£)|
Opportunities Compared 2
Expressed as % of overall volume in 2003, 2005, 2007:
It is estimated that half of all visual artists are self-employed and that over 3,750 art and design graduates join the profession annually, saddled with their student debt. The opportunities for income earning appear to be relatively small when set against the size of the workforce wishing to access them. And not withstanding public art budgets cited on the previous page most work seems to offer small levels of remuneration or none at all. Opportunities to volunteer are ubiquitous.6
Other research in 2005 that informed Arts Council Englands Turning point7 strategy for the visual arts indicated that 50% of organisations cannot pay artists, presumably because the same research revealed that 39% of organisations surveyed managed on budgets of less than £5,000 and 58% budgets up to £10,000. Anecdotal evidence suggests that large visual arts institutions expect to pay low fees because of the CV points their exhibitions give artists.
Furthermore, 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, indicating that there is a large gap of pensions savings within the creative industries as a whole. There are a number of reasons for this, including high levels of self-employment and subsequent unpredictability of income, a distinct lack of trust in the financial sector and, unsurprisingly, affordability. For many, affordability is often stated as the key reason for lack of pension ownership.8
The announcement in February 2008 by Arts Council England of a 15% increase in grant aid to their regularly funded organisations many of whom are exhibition originating galleries may offer some hope in remedying the poor fee levels for artists who exhibit their work and in public venues. For example, were Exhibition Payment Right9 to be reinstated, guidance figures for 2008 might range from £460-£1200 per show.
The 2008 McMaster report is also significant in respect of highlighting the unique role that artists play within contemporary visual art presentation within museums and galleries. His recommendations, that broadly support a higher status for artists within arts infrastructures and decision-making, include: that practitioners communicating about their work be the primary tool of any programme of audience engagement.10
Our next review of artists jobs and opportunities, due in 2009, will enable us to see whether such policies and ambitions are translated into tangible benefits for practitioners.
1 Art work: Artists jobs and opportunities 1989-2003, a-n The Artists Information Company, published 2004 www.a-n.co.uk/fees_&_payments
2 The overall value of opportunities in 2005 was estimated at £15,620,00 in order to take into account the web-only published entries.
3 Examples during 2007 range from a £700,000 budget for a public artwork in St Davids, Cardiff and a £25,000 sculpture commission offered by Millfield School sponsored by Clarks.
4 Example include artistrun space The Muse, London that offered two recent graduates free studio space for eight months plus an exhibition, whilst the Acme Studios and Southwark Council residency provides a free eighteen-month studio let and £10,000 grant.
5 In November 2007, Safle (Public Art Wales) was formed from a merger between Artwork Wales and CBAT.
6 Warwick Universitys research commissioned to inform Arts Council Englands Turning point strategy stated that: for every three employees in the [visual arts] sector, two unpaid workers and one freelancer are also employed.
7 The Turning point strategy was informed by six research studies. See www.artscouncil.org.uk/turningpoint for the report with all studies referenced.
9 A strategic campaign involving artists and the then Arts Council of Great Britain and the regional arts associations to secure the principle and widespread application of EPR (Exhibition Payment Right) began in the 1980s. EPR schemes were operated with wide variations in England, Scotland and Wales until 2004. For a summary of application see Artists rates of pay 1989-2004, a-n The Artists Information Company, published 2005 www.a-n.co.uk/fees_and_payments
10 Supporting excellence in the arts, Sir Brian McMaster, DCMS, 2008 www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/Arts/mcmaster_review.htm
Art work: Artists jobs and opportunities 1989-2003, December 2004
Art work analysed, February 2006
Artists rates of pay 1989-2004, January 2005
Fees and payments for artists, August 2004
Good practice in paying artists, March 2005, updated September 2007
Intangible, inflatable, irreducible the value of artists; work, Lucy Kimbell, November 2004
Who employs artists?, April 2008
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Susan Jones is Director of Programmes at a-n The Artists Information Company and a researcher and published writer on the contemporary visual arts.
First published: Research papers March 2008
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