The University for the Creative Arts Canterbury is hosting a symposium exploring how artists make a living from their work. The event marks the culmination of Collaborative Research Group, a post-academic programme supported by the university and the artist-led Crate Studio and Project Space in Margate.

Taking place on Thursday 26 March 2015, Work And Art: How artists make a living, will investigate and examine the multiple ways in which artists, curators and writers sustain themselves economically.

The lineup of speakers for the all-day symposium includes London-based Russian artist Tatiana Baskakova, known for her politically charged work that has at times explored issues of low pay and corruption. Fellow contributors include moving image artist, curator and fishmonger Sam Curtis, whose practice examines the various ways people navigate society’s systems and structures.

Also presenting will be Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, who has recently published research on the long-term health benefits of participating in the arts, plus artist Angus Sanders-Dunnachie, whose graduate exhibition was famously snapped up by Charles Saatchi.

In addition, AIR Council’s Caroline Wright will be delivering a presentation on exhibition fees and the Paying Artists campaign.

The lineup also includes presentations from curator Emma Braso, the Collaborative Research Group, researcher, activist and former a-n director Susan Jones, collaborators Hurley and Thornton, and independent curator and writer Shama Khanna.

Psychological survival

Toby Huddlestone, founder and coordinator of the Collaborative Research Group, said: “With continual governmental cuts to our public services, including the arts and culture, the question of how to survive as an arts practitioner becomes more and more pertinent.

“Our symposium hopes to survey strategies of financial and psychological survival in the arts, investigating the multiple ways artists earn money to support their artistic careers, and in turn what it means for artists to occupy these multiple roles in society.

“We’d like to see if there is a recent trend in whether artists look to or away from the arts for their financial stability, as more and more arts organisations make cuts in the provision of labour through employing volunteers in front of house and backstage roles.”

On the quality of the speakers contributing to the symposium, Huddlestone adds: “We wanted to include a range of practitioners with experience and knowledge of working practices through previous economic recessions, through to very recent graduates who are a working example of how it is right now to attempt to maintain an artistic practice in tough financial times.

Through these collaborations, we hope to present a range models for artistic survival and giving an up to date context on the status of being an artist right now.”

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