A newly published arts strategy for Scotland includes a commitment to fair pay for artists as part of its core aim to ensure artists’ “vital contribution” to society is “visible and valued”.
Produced by Creative Scotland, the country’s funding body for the arts, creative industries and screen, Arts Strategy 2016-17 pledges to strengthen, nurture and sustain “opportunities for excellence and diversity across the arts”.
The strategy document states that approximately 80% of artists in Scotland earn less than £10,000 per annum through their artistic output, with two thirds earning less than £5,000. Just 2% earn over £20,000.
The report continues: “This means artists often have to secure other employment alongside being an artist, or self fund through a variety of ways including help from families, in order to pursue their practice.
“This is clearly only possible for a few and means that artists with more affluent backgrounds can seek ways to support themselves as opposed to those who do not have this as an option.”
The strategy includes a commitment to “ensuring that all organisations and projects that receive public funding are demonstrating best practice with regard to fair pay and understand the impact on the wider sector of not doing”.
This forms part of a broader commitment to developing “a stronger financial context for artists to work in” and exploring, with others, “ways to improve artists pay, living and working conditions”.
Supporting artists and the arts
Leonie Bell, Creative Scotland’s director of arts and engagement, said the Arts Strategy “places value on the contribution artists make to our society and our communities. It calls for greater commitment to paying artists fairly for their work to enable them to sustain their careers.”
She added: “[The strategy] sets out how Creative Scotland’s work supports artists and the arts to flourish, by developing a shared understanding of their reach, relevance and contribution to social, cultural and economic life in Scotland.
“Artists, cultural producers and arts organisations are a central part of a healthy, innovative, and dynamic society. Art and culture sit at the heart of who we are as a nation, should be valued in and of themselves and I’m pleased that we are publishing the Arts Strategy at a time when artists from all over the world are gathering in Edinburgh for the summer festivals.”
Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, said she welcomed the publication of the strategy and its “sense of realism of the challenges facing individual artists and what can and should be done to support them”.
She continued: “We have a vibrant, confident arts scene in Scotland but we need to do more to ensure that artists and also young people in wider community can realise more fully their potential.”
The Arts Strategy stems from Creative Scotland’s sector reviews for dance, literature and publishing, music, theatre, visual arts, creative learning and equalities, diversity and inclusion.
As part of the public events for the visual arts sector review, Glasgow-based artist Rachel Maclean, who will represent Scotland at the Venice Biennale next year, presented a lengthy provocation, an edited version of which is published on a-n News.
Maclean spoke eloquently about the need for artists to be properly paid for their work and Creative Scotland acknowledges her contribution in the report’s ‘Further reading’ section.
The strategy also draws on existing research and approaches to arts funding and follows previously published strategies for screen and the creative industries in Scotland.
Read Creative Scotland’s Arts Strategy 2016-17 in full here
For more on a-n’s Paying Artists campaign, visit www.payingartists.org.uk