Liverpool’s artist studios, home to almost 500 artists, could disappear from the city-region’s communities if they are not given the support they need. A report, compiled by Art in Liverpool C.I.C and a new network burning together representatives of Liverpool city-region’s 35 artist studios, reveals many artist studios were ineligible for funding support in 2020, and when they were, the language or presentation of the opportunity appeared to exclude them.
The city-region’s artist studios play a valuable role in its vibrant arts community, creative economy and culture. Affordable studio space allows artists to thrive, building work, connecting with other creatives and helping them to access opportunities, like exhibitions, residencies and more.
The challenges facing Artist Studios, like many in the creative industry, have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, but were not created by it. Like music venues and studios, artist studios are part of a wider ecosystem of increasing property prices. According to Arts Council England’s ‘Livelihood of Visual Artist’ report in 2019, artists earn on average £16,150 each year, with £6,020 coming from their artist practice. Rents in studio spaces, therefore, cannot be on a parallel with those in the tech industry, gaming or creative studios.
Artist Studios thus receive a lower income than other studio networks. This puts them at a disadvantage with landlords and property developers, especially in city centre or desirable locations.
Affordable studio space plays an important role in an artists development. Rents are, on average, according to the National Federation of Artists’ Studio Providers around a third of the open market. If we value the work of visual artists and want them to contribute to our creative economy, then they need access to facilities at an affordable price. This means studios that are centrally located, or easy to get to, are secure and safe, especially if artists are working late at night, are accessible and well managed.
Artist studios are not merely beneficial to artists. They contribute to communities through exhibitions, open studio events, outreach programmes and public art projects that enhance the wellbeing and quality of life in an area.
The report calls for Artist Studios to be included in the cultural infrastructure of Liverpool City Region, for wider recognition of their roles, activity and expertise, and for greater protection to be granted to them to ensure they continue. As cultural regeneration is a major part of the strategy for recovery post Covid, Artist Studios provide an existing connection into communities and high streets, and should be the first port of call for local authorities looking to rebuild and utilise grassroots artistic and creative communities.
Read the report: