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News: Mapping the Visual Arts goes live

Creative Scotland have today published their full Visual Arts Sector Review. You can read the full document and appendixes on Creative Scotland’s website now.

The two reports from SCAN’s Mapping the Visual Arts surveys are also now available as Appendixes to the review, and a shorter summary of the headline data is available here.

We welcome the acknowledgement that despite high levels of artistic excellence and activity generated, the sector is financially fragile from both a personal and organisational perspective. This statement will be welcomed by many of our members who feel that recent dominant media narratives and particular success stories, mask the harsh reality: organisations are committed but over-stretched, whilst artists and cultural workers are most often faced with a precarious and poorly paid existence. Although we do not yet know the details of their financial position, the sudden demise of Inverleith House, one of Scotland’s leading contemporary galleries, shows the precarious situation which many organisations are in.

Some of the headline findings from the surveys show that; *Whilst those who work in the sector are highly qualified, levels of pay across the board are very low (average total income from all sources is £14,000 per year). *The data points towards a big disparity in earnings between men and women (for those who spent more than 35 hours on their visual arts work, women were on average earning 56% less than their male counterparts). *The majority of respondents (92%) were white and only a very small percentage reported being in receipt of disability allowances. *Most organisations are very small in scale, with small numbers of staff, but they invest the majority of their budgets in their artistic and creative programmes. *Organisations indicated they worked with or supported on average 168 artists per year.

Despite some of the financial challenges there was still a strong sense of optimism from respondents. Most people cited the high levels of artistic excellence and innovation, strong peer to peer networks and support of other artists and colleagues as being some of the best things about working in Scotland today.

What is important now is to make the most of this moment. This knowledge is no longer confined to the Visual Arts Team at Creative Scotland, we can now ensure it permeates wider through the funding body and to policy makers across the country at local authority and Government level.

There may be no solutions or fixed initiatives offered by Creative Scotland at this time. To be fair, the review isn’t a strategy. But Creative Scotland have committed to bring the sector together, in partnership with SCAN, to look in detail at the issues and priorities that have emerged. SCAN will work hard with and on behalf of our members to ensure that appropriate and meaningful actions can be initiated. We must act collectively to drive forward and lead this agenda, working together to agree development priorities and future strategies that can address our shared challenges.

The SCAN surveys garnered a huge response from 680 individuals and 87 organisations. Respondents answered questions on a wide variety of topics including working conditions and pay; income and expenditure; practice, programme and professional development; public funding; exhibition and distribution; governance and operations; networks and connections; audiences, equalities and diversity; and challenges and aspirations. 
This detailed information gives us such a great insight into the different experiences of artists, curators and other cultural workers right across Scotland, and we are grateful to everyone who took the time to fill them out, helping to make this research a success.

We are also pleased the share our new Art Map which plots all the organisations within the contemporary art field that we identified during our research phase. We hope that the map in its first phase of development will be a useful tool for artists, curators, researchers and writers, and that it will help create connections and increase the visibility of the variety of activity that is happening across Scotland today.

SCAN has released a more detailed statement and first take analysis on the Visual Arts Sector Review for SCAN Members.

Date: 19 October 2016

News: Mapping the Visual Arts goes live