How are the arts funded anyways?
Liverpool has a name for itself when it comes to creativity. Rising up out of the bad press, dereliction, and distress of the 80s, Liverpool worked with what it had to become a buzzing, creative, and artistic city, well known for its contribution to the UK's creative industries.
Liverpool's creativity is a vital part of its identity. But how do we fund something as intangible and as vague "the arts"? And how do artists make a living in a country where "artist" is not looked on as a profitable career?
Income from Sales
Many artists sell their products, including prints, artworks, bookmarks, books, cards, t-shirts and more online, or through vendors. Check if your local artist has an online shop, or if they are appearing at an arts market near you- these products are likely what they will be selling there. Buying their creations is a fantastic way for the public to support your local artists.
With CDs, tapes, Bandcamp and other selling platforms, you can support your favourite artists by buying their music.
Have a certain something in mind for your wall, or a logo for your start up business? Many artists accept commissions, where by you pay them to create something specific for you.
In recent years, more and more artists have turned to crowdfunding as a way to support their art. Generally, platforms like Patreon give artists the option of more freedom, as many people donate small amounts in general support of the work that they do, rather than depending on one large commission.
For project funding, artists and creators have used platforms such as Kickstarter or GoFundMe to raise the necessary funds for a specific project, sometimes with the option of a gift in return for your donation.
Art Collection Liverpool's community fund is similar to these crowdfunding model, although instead of supporting just one Liverpool artist weekly, we aim to spread our coin as far and as wide as possible. With 500 members, we will make funding for artists amounting to £26,000 a year, granting the fund out weekly in £500 instalments to individual artists.
Many artists balance a number of different areas of work, both in and out of their creative practise, in order to fund their creative work. Artists may pick up shifts where they can, or may even work full time jobs in addition to their creative practise. Some give workshops and teach on the side too. This approach is incredibly common, but often means that artists are left without much time to devote to their art, never mind learning, development, and securing further funding.
National Funding and Local Funding
A small amount of money goes from our collective taxes to support the creative industries of the UK. Much of this money goes towards our much loved, and worthy venues, festivals and creative spaces. Some is released nationally, and some locally, through our Government and our local councils.
Through various national funding streams, artists can apply to be awarded money for different projects, development, or travel. But funding for artists can be hard to access.
These applications can be complicated, inaccessible, and time consuming. Applications may ask to see the work you have already done, and it can become harder for early career artists to get funded. Art Collection Liverpool hopes to mitigate some of these difficulties by asking our community of members to nominate the artists they love for funding.
Artist Residencies Artists residencies give artists the time and freedom to create work, often in a different setting. During the residency, the artist is paid to explore, research and create work, and they can often have an impact on the development of an artist's creative practise. Funding and length of time varies between residencies, and spaces are few and far between, but the benefits are enormous, as most residencies give artists the freedom to create during their residency and can offer a temporary break from the struggle to fund work and new ideas. Examples in Liverpool include FACT, Metal, and the Bluecoat.
Art Collection Liverpool is Liverpool's first community fund for local artists, built by the people who love their art. We each donate £1 a week, which equates to weekly grants for artists. We value the arts, and want our local artists to get funded. So we set out to do just that.