APPG for Visual Arts discusses challenges faced by freelance visual artists

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Visual Arts held its first meeting of 2024 on Wednesday 7th February, focused on the challenges faced by freelance visual artists. The group discussed the working conditions of visual artists, and the precarity, low pay and unpaid labour which is endemic across the sector and heard from artist Charlotte Warne Thomas on these issues, and the support that a Freelancer Commissioner would bring.

A set of minute s from the meeting will be published soon.

APPG Visual Arts Briefing – House of Lords Debate Communications and Digital Committee inquiry

In July 2023, The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee held a debate following the publication of their inquiry into the risks facing creative industries, which DACS submitted evidence to in September 2022.

DACS has drawn on the expertise of leading artists, gallerists, and change-makers in the visual arts to outline how creative practices are changing, how new and diverse audiences are being reached and what skills artists require to maximise these exciting new opportunities and has provided a set of recommendations to support creative industries.

Summary of recommendations

  1. Intellectual Property Rights and AI: Artists rely on copyright royalties to support their practice, and it is essential that AI companies who are using artists’ work fairly reward them. The IP framework should not be eroded and no new exceptions to copyright are needed.
  2. Implementation of the Smart Fund: Implement the Smart Fund or a similar scheme to ensure artists are compensated fairly when their work is reproduced and shared digitally. As one artist argued, “Fair remuneration isn’t a privilege, it’s a right.”
  3. Digital Skills Development: Increase investment in digital skills training, including funding for artist residency programmes, to equip artists with the skills to navigate  the digital landscape. As one artist stated, “Our industry’s future depends on our ability to master these new tools.”

DACS, as a member of the Secretariat for the APPG for Visual Arts, submitted a full briefing, which can be found here.

APPG Visual Arts – Creative Freelance Commissioner Briefing

Earlier this year on 15th June, The Earl of Clancarty, an officer of the APPG for Visual Arts, tabled a short debate in the House of Lords on Arts and creative industries: Freelancers and self-employed workers.

Earl Clancarty asked His Majesty’s Government ‘What support they intend to give to freelancers and other self-employed workers in the arts and creative industries; and what assessment they have made of the case for a Commissioner for freelancers.’

The Visual Arts organisations a-n, CVAN and DACS are collectively calling for a Creative Freelance Commissioner to help the Government understand the challenges faced by UK’s freelance workforce. The All- Party Parliamentary Group for Visual Arts has also discussed the need for a Creative Freelance Commissioner and the benefits this would bring to artists and the wider workforce.

The Group shared a briefing with Earl Clancarty and other Peers in the House of Lords ahead of the debate, which is available to read here.

APPG for Visual Arts holds its AGM

On Tuesday 23rd May 2023, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Visual Arts convened for its inaugural AGM, where the appointment of Theo Clarke MP as Chair was confirmed, along with officers of the group and key priorities.

Theo Clarke brings a wealth of experience in the visual arts, having worked at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York and Christie’s auction house. She is a co-founder of The Association of Women in the Arts, and studied Art History at Newcastle University and the Courtauld Institute of Art.

On appointment as Chair of the APPG for Visual Arts, Theo Clarke MP said:

“The visual arts enrich the lives of all in the UK and play a vital role in our thriving creative economy, from internationally renowned art fairs to grassroots community projects that inspire the next generation of artists and creatives. At the same time, the sector faces unique challenges around fair pay, career pathways, access to education and safeguarding copyright. The APPG for Visual Arts has been established to ensure that artists, and the wider visual arts sector, have a voice in parliament. The officers of the APPG for Visual Arts look forward to working with both industry and parliamentary colleagues to foster an environment in the UK in which visual artists can flourish.”

The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Visual Arts has been established to provide a forum for parliamentarians to foster a deeper understanding of the issues and challenges faced by UK visual artists.

The APPG’s statement of purpose is to:

  • Advance the understanding of how visual artists carry out their practice and develop their careers;
  • Ensure fair pay for visual artists and safeguard their intellectual property rights;
  • Recognise the value artists bring to society and the UK economy, and ensure their artistic contributions are rewarded;
  • Foster an environment in the UK in which visual artists can flourish.

Full list of Officers of the APPG for Visual Arts:

Chair: Theo Clarke MP (Con, Stafford)

Vice Chair: Sir Roger Gale MP (Con, North Thanet)

Vice Chair: The Earl of Clancarty

Vice Chair: Lord Inglewood

Vice Chair: Giles Watling MP (Con, Clacton)

Vice Chair: Jamie Stone MP (Lib Dem, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross)

Vice Chair: Damian Collins MP (Con, Folkestone and Hythe)

Officer: Simon Baynes MP (Con, Clwyd South)

Officer: Kim Johnson MP (Lab, Liverpool, Riverside)

Officer: Julie Elliott MP (Lab, Sunderland Central)

UK Parliament debates support for UK artists and culture through innovative funding schemes

Parliamentarians gathered to debate ways of ‘supporting UK artists and culture’ in a Westminster Hall debate secured by former Minister for Culture and Digital, Caroline Dinenage. 

More than 2.1m people work in the cultural and creative industries, which contribute an annual £116bn to the UK economy. This acts as an important driver to a sizeable part of the UK economy and comes with huge international prestige. It gives millions of people across the country pleasure every single day with the wide range of things to view and become involved with, bringing together both local communities and our four nations. But too many governments have overlooked the vital role of the people – the creators and performers – who underpin this success story.  

Results from a recent YouGov survey ‘Accessing and valuing cultural content’ show strong public support for new ways to pay creators and performers who make the cultural works we enjoy and love. Sixty-seven percent of respondents think the government should be open to new initiatives to support creators and performers. In Tuesday’s debate, parliamentarians heard about the impact of the arts and culture to regions, supporting placemaking, sense of pride and boosting local economies. They also heard how schemes already in place throughout the world, but not in the UK, bring equitable payment for creators and performers whilst injecting much-needed funding into communities through cultural projects.    

Caroline Dinenage MP, said:
As former Culture Minister, I am deeply concerned at the number of low-paid freelancers who struggled to make ends meet, particularly through the pandemic. As the UK rebuilds, and we seek to cement the UKs international reputation for our creative economy, it is time that government looks at workable, sustainable opportunities already in place in Europe and the rest of the world, that the UK could feasibly replicate to ensure our country remains at the forefront of the global creative economy.” 

The Westminster Hall debate “Supporting UK artists and culture” occurred on Tuesday 22nd November between 16:30-17:30 and can be viewed live online here.