A growing number of voices are lending their support to a-n & AIR’s Paying Artists Campaign to improve the economic status of visual artists within the publicly funded arts, which launches with its own dedicated website on 19 May.
The campaign has so far received hundreds of tweets responding to the #PayingArtists tag, including from Peter Bazalgette, chair of Arts Council England. He said: “Arts Council England wholeheartedly supports the #PayingArtists campaign.”
One of the first to pledge support via Twitter was artist Justin McKeown, head of fine art and computer science at York St John University. McKeown, who has written the introductory essay to this year’s a-n Degree Shows Guide, is offering his Art Worker app as a free download for one month in support of the campaign. The app is designed to help artists calculate how much they should be charging for their services.
Said McKeown: “The most political thing any politically conscious artist can do is make sure they and any others associated with art’s production and dissemination are fairly paid so that we can sustain cultural production in the future. One of the main problems is that artists themselves undervalue their labour. Most arts education in the UK does not include discussion of finance beyond telling people how to pay their taxes.”
He added: “I want to help raise awareness of the Paying Artists Campaign and encourage people to download and use the tool. Artists need to educate themselves about finance and they need to be forthright about what they think they should be paid.”
Twitter comments and support
Other artists and galleries have also been offering their support. @LocaCreatives tweeted: “If you care about artists’ ability to sustain their work follow and support the #PayingArtists campaign.” @StandpointGal added: “We need to change our assumptions and value artists.”
Some artists suggested that the solution lies with practitioners themselves. @SovayB tweeted: “Artists often collude with institutional hierarchy that keeps them at bottom of the food chain.”
@xelb0ttenberG said: “Art institutions use up all the money, and leave nothing for artists. It’s a messed up system.” AIR Council’s @Tspaceinbetween replied: “Artists also need to change – we’re often too grateful to get anything to dare ask about £££!”
Download the Art Worker app here
To host a campaign debate and presentation contact AIR Communications: [email protected]
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