Let’s Create is the most recent strategy from Arts Council England looking at promoting the arts across the UK for “every person in every town, village, and city” over the next ten years. Disadvantaged communities are particularly noted as a focus in this report. This has to be a priority and something that both I and ARTIQ truly believe in. We hope that by 2030 we will see the results that aim to deliver culture to every corner of the country.
One particular item which has caught our attention over the last few weeks is how the Arts Council England report has rebranded artists and instead is suggesting the use of the term “creative practitioners”. The thinking of this is to make sure that all types of creatives are encompassed with attention and the appropriate support and funding.
Creatives contribute significantly to our society both culturally and financially. Not only are they creative practitioners and artists but also micro-entrepreneurs, small business owners and key contributors to the overall economy. The more we think of artists as businesses, as entrepreneurs, the greater the chances of ensuring a sustainable arts economy that champions the importance of creativity and provides appropriate and proportionate pay for artists.
Now we have exited the EU, the UK’s creative industries are at long-term risk of a brain drain and untold damage to a sector that contributes approximately £100bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the economy. More than two million people are employed in the arts and it is growing. This is because the sector is characterized by its agility – one in three creative workers are freelancers, a figure that rises to 50% for film and video production.
One of Boris Johnson’s key election pledges, and therefore one of the main tasks of his government, was reforming the UK’s immigration system. To do this, alongside introducing a Global Talent visa and an “Australian-style points system”, the government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee to provide advice and guidance on migrant salary thresholds. The potential impact on the creative industries could be massive and detrimental for the next wave of artists to populate the industry.
In their report, which was released on 28th January, the committee argued that the current threshold should be lowered, allowing more medium-skill workers to qualify. Currently, workers applying for a Tier 2 visa in the UK must have proof of a job offer with a minimum salary of £30,000. Under the commission’s recommendations, this would be lowered to £25,600
According to the committee, this could help ensure that workforces can be maintained after Brexit while also boosting various sectors that are struggling with skills shortages. By lowering this threshold, we will be able to incentivize those who initially work on lower incomes in the arts to come, live, work and prosper in a post-EU British workforce. As any immigration salary threshold rises, this could result in a loss of individuals who provide significant financial and cultural value to the UK.
It is not our place to tell the government what their policies should be but our industry.
About the author: Patrick McCrae, is an art expert and CEO of ARTIQ.