A coalition of arts industry organisations including DACS, ALCS, BECS and Directors UK has set out how The Smart Fund could generate a huge annual investment for the creative industries and boost a wider economic recovery.

The fund would work by placing a small one-off levy on the sale of mobiles, laptops, PCs and devices that are built to allow people to store and download creative content, solving the problem that creators are not recompensed for the use of their work. Small payments, the equivalent of 1-3% of the sales value of the device, would be paid into a central fund which would be distributed to artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers and performers.

The Smart Fund could raise between £250-£300 million a year to support the UK’s creative sector and provide a direct way for tech companies to invest in, empower and enrich the cultural DNA of our communities and wider society, as well as supporting cultural community projects.

DACS Chief Executive Gilane Tawadros said:

“Working with the tech industry and innovators in this sector, we want to support creators and performers, to rebuild and enable the UK’s world leading cultural heritage, tourism, and creative industries and contribute to its soft power and international standing. The arts provide sustenance to the engine room of cultural regeneration, recovery and renewal for the whole country.”

Schemes like the Smart Fund exist and operate successfully in 44 countries worldwide, paying out over £930 million to creators and performers globally in 2018 alone.

The Smart Fund has backing from a range of groups representing the interests of artists to support a successful post-Covid recovery through investment in arts and culture. An open letter in support of The Smart Fund has so far accrued over 100 signatories including artists Sir Frank Bowling, Rachel Whiteread and Yinka Shonibare CBE, as well as actors Olivia Colman OBE and Imelda Staunton CBE.

Speaking about a-n’s support for The Smart Fund, CEO Julie Lomax said:

“During lockdown, technology offered new opportunities for artists and makers to create and share content, and many people turned to creativity to support their wellbeing. At the same time, artists livelihoods have been severely impacted.

“We believe that artists and makers should not only be paid for their work, but also that they are vital to economic and cultural recovery post-covid. As an organisation, a-n fully supports The Smart Fund as a way to invest in the diversity of arts and cultural talent across the UK.”

Adding his support, artist and The Smart Fund ambassador, Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA) said:

“The Smart Fund is a no brainer. Currently there isn’t any effective way for creators to be recompensed when their work is downloaded and stored by audiences. This remains one of the largest untapped opportunities for creators and performers. The Smart Fund provides a way to invest in creative talent of all ages and backgrounds and their communities.”

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