What value culture and the creative artist?


As the UK recently gained a new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Equalities – Sajid Javid, today’s blog compares some of the attitudes and systems in place for the public support of culture in the UK and Europe.  The European Commission produced a wealth of statistics in their Eurostat pocket books – Cultural Statistics – 2011 edition. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-32-10-374/EN/KS-32-10-374-EN.PDF that compares cultural data from countries within Europe. 

In 2011 the German government voted for an increase in their public spending on culture of over 5%. The French government are trying to streamline (or cut) the generous welfare support that their creative artists have enjoyed for many years.

The Council of Europe/ERICarts, Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 12th edition, 2011 gives some basic information about how some of the EU countries support their creative artists through national and regional schemes, the following examples come from this report.

In Spain the Intellectual Property Act (23/2006 Act) obliges copyright societies to set up welfare and support services for “authors, performing artists or cultural workers”, either themselves or through third parties. Societies are to spend 20% of their copyright fees on such services.

In Ireland there is total tax exemption for creative artists (not performing artists) on income from work recognised for its artistic or cultural value. The French tax system has special allowances for independent creators and performing artists around 10 or 20% whereas the German system has a 30% flat rate for independent artists with special rates for freelance workers on short contracts.

In the UK there is still no specific labour or social security measures governing the cultural sector in general or for freelance artists in particular although Arts Council grants are exempt from tax. Some recommendations for more public funding of, as well as tax incentives for, creative artists have recently been published in a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research – March of the modern makers. An industrial strategy for the creative industries. http://www.ippr.org/images/media/files/publication/2014/03/March-of-the-modern-makers_Feb2014_11926.pdf 

The UK government has devolved most of the responsibility for cultural spending through expensive layers of management, intermediaries and business administrators. The most recent accounts from the Arts Council can be found at http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/media/uploads/pdf/ACE_Annual_Report_2012-13_Interactive.pdf Recent governments have used publicity and public relations strategies to promote themselves and the creative industries but the main sources of income for arts now seem to be from gambling, tax incentives for large businesses and philanthropic donations.

Camelot’s web site (https://www.national-lottery.co.uk/player/p/goodcausesandwinners/wherethemoneygoes.ftl) shows how the money is divided. “In the year ending 31 March 2013, 28% of total National Lottery revenue was returned to the Good Causes, while over 50% of total revenue was paid to players in prizes. Over the same period, 12% of total revenue was paid to the Government in Lottery Duty and around 5% was paid to retailers in commission.” “…the money Camelot delivered for National Lottery Projects was allocated as follows:

  • Health, Education, Environment, and charitable causes – 40%
  • Sports – 20%
  • Arts – 20%
  • Heritage – 20%.” 

Looking at these figures the approximate division of a £1 stake is:

  • 50p in prize money
  • 12p to government in tax (duty)
  • 05p in retailers commission
  • 08p to Health, Education, Environment, and charitable causes
  • 04p to Sports
  • 04p to Arts
  • 04p to Heritage

Camelot also state that during 2013 they raised over £35 million each week to give to good causes which would equate to approximately £1,500,000 per week to the Arts (and based on the same figures £4,500,000 to the government each week).

Culture should not be regarded as a “good cause”, it is the main element that defines the society we are, were and have aspirations to become. I hope the new Minister will be a champion for culture but with all the other sectors in his title competing for attention, I am not that optimistic.

© P.R.Birkby 2014


About derangeddrums

Composer, percussionist, musical director, teacher and educator. My music has been written for audiences in palaces and in the street. Music is my vocation and my passion and I hope you enjoy it too.
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