How do artists earn money, how much do they earn, and what do they do to earn it? What are the motivations and inspiration behind being an artist? a-n, Arts Council England, Artquest and our partners held a survey in March 2016 to find out, so that we can advocate for better working conditions for artists.

Results were studied and reviewed by Arts Council England and TBR, with a report finally published in December 2018. Over 2,000 artists replied to the survey, making it one of the most comprehensive undertaken.

View the full Artists Livelihoods report on Arts Council England website.

Arts Council England commissioned a new national study to find out directly from visual artists in England about the economic, social and cultural factors which affect their ability to develop a sustainable practice. This was the first comprehensive study in over a decade of how visual artists in England live and work. The project listened to and documented the realities of practicing as a visual artist, as well as providing an opportunity to inform future programmes, advocacy and other initiatives. The findings will help to focus support where it is most needed to ensure a resilient and diverse visual arts sector and will be available in the next few months, once properly analysed.

a-n, leading on the research, have worked across the whole sector, including with Artquest and a number of other partners, to ensure the survey is useful to all and help avoid duplication of effort.

The data from the survey will be used not only to inform the programmes and initiatives that are developed to support artists, but also to advocate the wider importance of artists and the arts to politicians, audiences and funders.

Independent research company TBR, working with a-n The Artists Information Company and James Doeser, have been commissioned to deliver the project. Artquest has been working with them alongside a broad range of partners who are contributing to and invested in the project, including: ACAVA (Association for Cultural Advancement through Visual Art), AIR (Artists Interaction and Representation), AUE (Artists’ Union England), Axisweb, Crafts Council, CVAN (Contemporary Visual Arts Network), DACS, Dash,engage, East Street Arts, LADA (Live Art Development Agency), nsead (National Society for Education in Art and Design), Shape, Space Studios, Unlimited and Voluntary Arts.

In 2014 Artquest published a literature review, The Value of Money, looking at available research around motivations and money for artists.

Notes on project partners

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

Due to celebrate its 30th year in business in 2016, TBR was a leading economic development research consultancy with a specialism in researching the UK’s arts, cultural and creative industries.  TBR had a strong track record of providing robust, actionable research and analysis for hard-to-define and measure sectors (including visual arts), successfully tackling challenging research questions to fill evidence gaps.

a-n The Artists Information Company
Founded in 1980, a-n has established a reputation, and is widely acknowledged, for providing unique insights into the changing ecology for the visual arts, playing a key role in influencing and informing cultural policy and arts development.  Its research partners have been varied over the last 30 years, but it has always been led by the needs and issues reflected by its practising, professional artist membership. a-n has developed strong information sharing and advocacy links across the sector and with national government and Cabinet and House of Lords, DCMS, national funding bodies and other NDPBs.

James Doeser
A freelance researcher, writer and consultant based in London. Until 2013 he was a senior researcher at the Arts Council where he led a variety of research projects to inform policy and strategy across the cultural sector. He is on the advisory board of the journal Cultural Trends and holds Research Associateships at both the UCL Institute of Archaeology and Culture at King’s (where he is also the editor of CultureCase). He specialises in putting robust and high quality research to use in the cultural sector.