The artists and arts policy conundrum: The relationship of arts policies to artists’ creative practices and their livelihoods
Analysis of some key UK arts policies suggests a gap between ambitions set out in policies intended to support artists’ creative practices and their livelihoods and their subsequent impact on practitioners. An example is Year of the Artist 2000 in which although it was intended that creation of 1000 residencies would achieve lasting opportunities for artists “creatively, structurally and financially”, providing contexts which “value, reward and, increasingly, understand them”, evaluation reveals little qualitative evidence of impact on creative practices and income expectations weren’t achieved.
Overall, because artists’ incomes have suffered a decline a key issue for many of artists, particularly post austerity, is finding a suitable balance between surviving economically without having to take on work which is creatively unrewarding. Could changes in arts policy and the funded arts environment go some way to ameliorating this? There is some evidence, however, that arts policies have an inherent tendency to keep ‘artists poor’ and that by interfering with artists’ motivations and inhibiting essential risk and experimentation they can also limit the ability of artists’ to be creative. So is the relationship between artists and arts policy destined to end up in divorce?
By gaining an understanding artists’ motivations and the conditions and contexts they perceive to enable their creative practices and livelihoods and comparing and contrasting these with perceptions of mediators and what artists are offered, my research aims to identify and provide a rationale for and new models of environments that are conducive to fostering the talents of visual artists.