What are we worth? Debate on the Future Economy of Art as the Median Wage for Artists is revealed to

Thu 27 Oct 2011 by Angela_McKay

What are we worth?
Debate on the Future Economy of Art as the Median Wage for Artists is revealed to be only £10,000

Figures released today by DACS (Design and Artists Copyright Society) to launch a new series of open lectures on economics and culture reveal that the national annual median wage for a fine artist in 2010 was only £10,000 - less than half of the average UK salary.
The first debate in the series The New Economy of Art is being hosted by Conway Hall on Tuesday 18th October and marks a new collaboration between three major arts organisations DACS (Design and Artists Copyright Society), Artquest and the Contemporary Art Society. It will be attended by a mixture of artists, cultural policy experts and journalists but is open to all.
The discussion will consider how artists can create income in support of their practice in a period of dramatic economic, social and technological change. Speakers include the author and cultural expert John Kieffer and artists Zineb Sedira and Bob and Roberta Smith.
The theme is particularly relevant given that 1 January 2012 is the date of the final implementation of the Artist’s Resale Right.
Stuart Semple and Gavin Turk are among the artists who have recently spoken out about the importance of the Resale Right in ensuring financial security for artists and their families. The online petition http://www.dacs.org.uk/ supporting the Artist’s Resale Right has been signed by almost 2,000 people.
British artist Stuart Semple recently said of the various financial barriers faced by artists:
‘Art is one of the most difficult things to make a living from. When you’re starting out, it’s a real struggle because you’ve got to fork out for materials, studios and often people have to take on other jobs.’
Meanwhile, Gavin Turk revealed his concerns about the state of financial security for artists and their families in a recent Youtube video http://www.dacs.org.uk/index.php?m=21&s=21&c=200
There are still some places left for Tuesday’s debate which will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and tickets cost £4. For more information, please visit DACS’ website http://www.dacs.org.uk/

1. This debate is part of The New Economy of Art – a series of open discussions throughout 2011-12 that will focus on the economic developments and opportunities in the cultural sector that impact on artists, from the perspective of artists. It will share knowledge and provoke action to enable artists to influence the future ecologies and economies in which they operate.
2. Speakers John Kieffer, Zineb Sedira and Bob and Roberta Smith will set the scene before an open dialogue with the audience.
Research into artists’ earnings
3. The research on artist’s wages comes from a study conducted by the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management (CIPPM) at Bournemouth University and funded by DACS illuminates the financial struggles faced by artists, designers, photographers and illustrators. The report can be accessed online at http://www.cippm.org.uk/publications/DACS-Report-Final.pdf
4. The research report provides a vital evidence base for policy-makers on how the digital environment is affecting copyright issues for visual artists. It draws on responses to a survey of 5800 participants and reveals a startling insight into the everyday difficulties of earning money through art.
5. Issues in the report include the precarious financial nature of a career in visual arts, with typical earnings well below the UK national median wage. In 2009/10, the typical photographer earned £15,000 (median); the typical illustrator earned £15,723 (median) while the typical fine artist earned only £10,000 (median).
6. The research also explores how many artists are multi-tasking in order to make ends meet. Careers typically are sustained by a portfolio of other activities with 35% having a formal second job.
7. Another emerging issue from the research was that of moral rights: for example, the right to be named as author (attribution right), (ii) the right to protect the work against derogatory treatment. In 26% of illustrators and designers waived their moral rights in 2009-2010.
About DACS
8. Established by artists for artists, DACS (the Design and Artists Copyright Society)  is an innovative visual artists’ rights management organisation, representing over 60,000 creative individuals including fine artists, photographers and illustrators from the UK and abroad. The petition can be signed at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/arr/
9. Over the past five years, as a not-for-profit organisation, DACS has distributed £34.5 million in royalties to visual artists for copyright licensing, Artist’s Resale Right and collective licensing. This represents a direct financial investment into creativity and innovation. DACS’ total distributions to artists represent almost twice as much as the investment made by Arts Council England to individuals for visual arts related activities over a similar period.
For further information contact,

Tania Spriggens, Director of Communications [email protected]   
Heloise Wood
 Public Affairs Campaign Advisor [email protected] 

 33 Great Sutton Street, London, EC1V 0DX

T: Switchboard +44 (0) 20 7336 8811

T: Direct Dial +44 (0) 20 7553 9081
F: +44 (0) 20 7336 8822 
W: www.dacs.org.uk