Most artists have only two months cash to survive coronavirus

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Most artists have only two months cash to survive coronavirus
Joanna Gilbert painting live at the ARTIQ 10th anniversary party.

LONDON.- More than nine out of ten artists are worried about the impact of the coronavirus on their work and 56% only have cash reserves to last up to two months, according to a survey by one of the UK’s leading art rental consultancies, ARTIQ.

ARTIQ was founded with a vision of creating a sustainable art economy, but its survey reveals that even established artists will struggle to withstand the crisis. Chief Executive Patrick McCrae is calling on the Government to implement a substantial art investment programme to safeguard the industry.

Last month, the Arts Council announced a £20m emergency funding package for creative practitioners and creative workers, with grants of up to £2,500, but Chief Executive Darren Henley admitted: “We will only be able to support a small proportion of the individuals we would like to help”.

Eighty-five per cent of the artists surveyed by ARTIQ make than less than £20,000 a year from their art and 65% are making less than £10,000 a year. With an average annual spend of £9,841 on studio rent, materials and other overheads, many are making tiny margins on their work even though nearly seven out of ten are working as full-time artists.

Many are experienced artists and, on average, have been working as artists for 14 years. Sixty-two per cent spend 5-10 hours a day on their art. More than one in five say they are ‘extremely worried’ about the impact of the coronavirus on their work, 47% are ‘worried’ and only 6% are not worried at all.

However, despite the financial concerns triggered by the coronavirus, the survey also reveals that the artists, whose average age is 45, are ready to adapt to find new sources of income during the crisis. More than six out of ten believe they can make money from the digitalisation of their art, primarily through selling work online.

Many have already been willing to find new audiences for their work. For 39% of the artists surveyed, income from art rentals, a relatively new market, is their biggest source of income, compared to 35% who make most of their income from selling their art.

The survey of 82 artists presents an intriguing snapshot into the changing art market and artists’ willingness to adapt. Under normal circumstances, their work is as likely to be seen in hotels and hospitality venues (25%) or offices (18%) as in more traditional settings with only 26% in private homes.

The survey also reveals the importance of EU nationals to the UK art market, with more than one in five from the EU. Concerns have been raised about their ability to continue working in the UK once a new points-based visa system, based primarily on salary, is introduced. However, EU artists remain relatively confident that a new immigration system will not stop them working in the UK; there is greater concern amongst UK artists that Brexit will adversely affect their ability to work abroad. Seventy per cent of the artists surveyed sell less than 10% of their work in the UK.

Patrick McCrae, chief executive of ARTIQ, said: “ARTIQ’s survey highlights the fragility of the art economy and the importance of supporting artists during the coronavirus crisis, many of whom are freelances. Without Government support, we risk losing some of our finest emerging creatives, forcing them to find other sources for income rather than nurturing their talent. The Government could take inspiration from President Roosevelt, who launched the Federal Art Project in the 1930s, which sustained around 10,000 artists in the United States, or from the UAE government, which has just purchased $400,000 worth of art by local artists”.

ARTIQ has paid more than £5m to artists, makers and institutions since launching in 2009, 75% of that in the last three years. By introducing a rental model to its clients, most of whom had never previously paid for art, ARTIQ hopes to change the art industry in the same way that the subscription model has revolutionised other sectors, such as travel, holidays, music and home entertainment.

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