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Leading artists join calls for dedicated emergency funding for visual arts in Scotland as Scottish Contemporary Art Network launch new digital campaign #KeepArtInAction

“Scotland was once of the best places for contemporary artists to live and work and now without urgent support, it’s world-famous art scene is teetering on the brink,” says Clare Harris, Director of Scottish Contemporary Art Network (SCAN) as it launched the digital campaign #KeepArtInAction.

Scotland’s contemporary art world is facing a cliff edge without a rescue package from the Scottish government, says SCAN, the member organisation advocating for contemporary visual art in Scotland. The Scottish Government has provided welcome commitment to the culture sector, including relief funds for the nation’s performing arts venues, its grassroots music venues and some museums and permanent collections. But funds have not yet been confirmed for the network of artists’ studios, production facilities and contemporary art galleries that artists rely on to make their work and earn a living. Now leading artists are adding their voices to the call for urgent support for contemporary art to avoid a crisis that will impact thousands of workers, both staff and self-employed.

Turner Prize 2020 Bursary recipient Alberta Whittle, and SCAN Trustee said:

“The Scottish arts scene is rooted in community, care and innovation. Through bypassing support for contemporary artists, galleries, studios and production facilities, the dynamism that cements Scotland at the vanguard of Europeancontemporary creative thinking diminishes every day. We have moved past the time for complacency and without urgent support recovery becomes a dream.”

Award-Winning artist Jacqueline Donachie said:
“The crisis for visual artists might be harder to see than in other sectors. It doesn’t become visible through mass redundancies, but it is unemployment. Artists are signing on, there is a huge loss of freelance work. So many artists fell through the net on the assessment of freelance income through the government’s schemes.”

Turner Prize winner Duncan Campbell, part of Glasgow’s eminent artist-led community said:
“Covid, for younger artists and artist initiatives in particular, has opened up a huge void…It seems to me that we are at a breaking point. Without a radical effort to support younger artists and artists run spaces – now – the basic ability Glasgow has to produce and reproduce artists is on the line.”

Nathan Coley who was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2007 said:
“We need to acknowledge what artists give to the community and support them better or they will be lost for a generation. Without artists there will be no new visual art being made to reflect our changing world – no exhibitions displaying the wealth of discourse around identity and nationhood, and no new culture to help educate and invigorate our people. Creativity could be the way out of the crisis we are in, but if the artists aren’t kept alive, then their voices will be lost forever.”

SCAN recently issued a set of proposals for a visual art emergency stimulus to the office of Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture.

These proposals include moves that SCAN believes would protect visual art organisations from immediate and medium-term insolvency, as well as safeguard and increase opportunities for commissioning and employment of freelance artists and creative practitioners. It also urged the establishment of a fund which would help artists to sustain their livelihoods in the immediate term.

Clare Harris added:
_“The urgency is clear. Artists continue to face loss of income on a wide scale. For organisations, the outlook is just as concerning. Lack of earned income coupled with necessary social distancing measures and capital spend on Covid-19 safety measures mean some face a cliff edge as early as November, with others fearing for their future beyond 18 months.

“We’re launching our #KeepArtInAction campaign to show how vital contemporary art, and all of those whose livelihoods are supported by it, are to the future of this country as we rebuild.”

Read the full press release here

Download a letter you can send to your MSP to urge investment in Scotland’s contemporary visual art sector

Date: 17 August 2020

Leading artists join calls for dedicated emergency funding for visual arts in Scotland as Scottish Contemporary Art Network launch new digital campaign #KeepArtInAction