Artistic freedom: Threats and challenges

Image of Toomaj Salehi
10 Apr 2024

Artistic freedom is an increasingly contested area of public discourse. But as Ruth Anderson of Index on Censorship argues, while she might not agree with what is expressed, she defends the right to do so.

MPs back proposed £300m Smart Fund for creator remuneration

10 Apr 2024

Select Committee says government must ‘plug the gaps' in outdated copyright and intellectual property regulations’ to help future-proof creators rights.

Grassroots music fund launches

09 Apr 2024

A music initiative designed to "empower and celebrate" grassroots music communities has launched.

Studio Monkey Shoulder, established by Monkey Shoulder Whisky, aims to recognise and support a community organisation to turn a passion project into reality, via a £10,000 investment. 

The UK-based community, collective or music organisation which receives the investment will have the opportunity to create their own event and feature in a series of films and radio broadcasts, produced in collaboration with Worldwide FM.

The  Studio Monkey Shoulder initiative is open to community trailblazers from independent record stores, live venues and online radio stations, to DJs, artists and promoters.

The winner will be selected by DJ and broadcaster Gilles Peterson, Founder of Worldwide FM.

Do artists’ livelihoods matter?

Flower emerging from a skull
09 Apr 2024

After far too many decades of jam tomorrow, artists deserve better, says independent arts researcher Susan Jones.

Support for creatives who are carers 'should be mainstreamed'

Barrowland Ballet presents Family Portrait
04 Apr 2024

Evaluation of carer support programme funded by Creative Scotland finds that despite a strong positive response from participants and organisations there are questions concerning sustainability.

Sunderland gets investment for 'Music City' project

02 Apr 2024

Sunderland Music Arts and Culture Trust has received more than £300,000 for a music initiative designed to provide people from diverse backgrounds with full access to educational and cultural events.

A total of £300,000 has been provided for the Sunderland Music City project from a social investment fund for the North East of England established by Northstar Ventures and £37,500 from the County Durham Community Foundation.

MAC Trust currently organises several major events in Sunderland, including Summer Streets, in partnership with Sunderland Council and Arts Council England.

Through Music City, the trust hopes to establish and brand Sunderland as a 'music city', using music, audiences and venues to help change people's cultural experiences in the city and the region, make it a more vibrant place and somewhere musical talent want to study and live.

Paul Callaghan, Chair of MAC Trust, said: "By developing and supporting music we can help the city and the region in several important ways through job creation, economic and artistic growth, tourism development, reputation and brand building. 

"It will involve not just the music community but also the education and public sectors, voluntary bodies, and the community at large covering all musical genres, all ages and everyone who wants to play, sing, or listen."

Calls for fan-led review of grassroots music industry

A man performing on stage at a small music venue
27 Mar 2024

Music industry representatives tell MPs they would back the idea of a fan-led inquiry into grassroots music venues, similar to that seen in football.

New partnership will support music sector in the North

20 Mar 2024

The Association of Independent Music (AIM) is partnering with Tileyard North, a Wakefield-based creative space, to support the North of England’s independent music sector.

The partnership will see AIM hold a permanent space at Tileyard North. The association is planning a series of activities in collaboration with the venue, while AIM members will have access to discounted rates at Tileyard’s creative spaces.

The initiative will begin with a roundtable event, strategically designed to anchor AIM in the North of England and bolster its efforts in talent development.

AIM’s Director of Business Development & Partnerships, Ben Wynter, said the collaboration is the first step to strengthen engagement with regions and nations outside London and the South East of England.

“Our collective aspiration is to eliminate the necessity for talented creatives and industry professionals to relocate to London in pursuit of success,” Wynter said.

“Instead, we want to support them to thrive locally, with AIM , contributing to the development of sustainable economies and ecosystems throughout the UK.”

Having opened in 2023, Tileyard has set ambitions of becoming the UK’s largest creative space outside of London.

“Wynter’s vision is completely aligned with ours and his pledge to build a home for AIM at our Tileyard North campus in Wakefield is testament to our shared aspiration to increase the opportunities for creative talent to incubate, develop and thrive in the North of England,” commented Nick Keynes, Co-Founder of Tileyard North.

Get Paid Guide for music creators published

20 Mar 2024

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has published a Get Paid Guide which it says aims to help demystify metadata for music creators. 

The resource, developed in partnership with PPL and PRS for Music, guides creators on how to register and manage their metadata, so they can protect their recorded music rights and ensure they are paid fairly and timely for their work.

It follows the launch of a guide on intellectual property rights for songwriters and composers released last year.

IPO Head of Research, David Humphries, says that following the publication of the Metadata Agreement in May 2023, IPO and representatives across the music industry have worked together to determine how best to improve the quality and accuracy of data. 

He added: “Industry led working groups on technical solutions and education have been meeting regularly to consider how best to improve the current data systems and how best to engage with the creator community.”

Michelle Escoffery, President of the PRS Members’ Council, said the guide has all the tools to make it easier for creators to master the art of good music data. 

“My hope is that by simplifying what can be quite complex, we empower our songwriter, composer, and performer community to understand that inputting accurate music data is a key contributor to financial success,” Escofferey added.

“By closing the knowledge gap, we will improve the quality of metadata across the music industry and ensure we're paid timely and correctly for our creativity.”

Rising number of performers seeking mental health support

View from behind a clinical specialist speaking to a patient
18 Mar 2024

Calls for sector focus to reduce high levels of poor mental health among performers following a 'destabilising and challenging' five years.

DACS launches national survey of artists’ earnings 

08 Mar 2024

Artists across the UK are being invited to take part in a survey intended to gain a better understanding of how they earn their money.

Commissioned by DACS (Design and Artists Copyright Society), the independent study will be conducted by the Centre for Regulation of the Creative Economy (CREATe), University of Glasgow.

The work follows a 2010 study that found artists' earnings averaged around £10,000 a year.

Christian Zimmerman, DACS's Chief Executive, said: “With the effects of Brexit, the pandemic, cuts to arts funding and the challenges posed by AI, it is more important than ever that DACS campaigns for stronger intellectual property protection, for policies that better support artists’ livelihoods, and for the arts to be a secure career prospect. 

"We need to build a clear and comprehensive picture of artists’ earnings today and how they are generating income in order to understand the challenges artists face in sustaining their practice. We want to hear from artists at all stages of their careers and from all disciplines.”

The survey, accessible here, is open from March to Sunday, 7 April. CREATe will publish a report on it in late 2024.

Chiswick House reveals 'creative campus' plans

05 Mar 2024

Chiswick House & Gardens Trust (CHGT) has unveiled plans to create a new learning hub with facilities to support 200 volunteers and artists’ studios.

The project aims to address the charity’s long-term viability and will also work with local residents to turn an unused outdoor space into a fruit garden.

CHGT said creating its new "campus”, Cedar Yards, will support the growth and accessibility of its volunteering and community activity. The addition of affordable workspaces for up to 100 artists and makers will also offer a new source of income for the trust.

So far, a third of the project cost has been raised, underpinned by funding from London Borough of Hounslow through Strategic Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) grants and funds from the Thriving Communities and Creative Enterprise Zone Grants. The rest of the funds are being raised from charitable and private sources.

Xanthe Arvanitakis, Director of Chiswick House and Gardens Trust, said: “This ambitious project has been designed to directly impact the wellbeing of our local community as well as enhancing cultural and creative enterprise activity in London Borough of Hounslow.

"By creating more public green spaces for local people, we can expand our learning and community programme, which is currently running at capacity. With the introduction of affordable workspaces for artists and makers, we will foster a local creative economy and generate much-needed new income for the trust.”

DCMS rules out broadcast-style equitable remuneration for music

27 Feb 2024

Following an IPO-commissioned report, DCMS Minister Julia Lopez says government will not enforce equitable remuneration for music streaming and will instead convene a music industry working group to consider the matter.

Manchester festival commits to supporting grassroots venues

21 Feb 2024

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has announced an agreement with RADAR Festival for a percentage of every ticket to go towards supporting grassroots music venues via the charity’s Pipeline Investment Fund. 

RADAR Festival, the contemporary indoor music festival in Manchester, is the first festival to agree to donate to the Pipeline Investment Fund which has awarded more than £260,000 to 61 UK Grassroots Music Venues since it was founded in 2022.

Co-organiser Catherine Jackson-Smith said: “If we don’t protect the smaller venues then there isn’t a pipeline for the next [festival] headliners, and this ticking time bomb is something that the music industry can, and must, take action on.” 

MVT CEO and founder Mark Davyd said: “We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to RADAR Festival, for taking this bold step as the first festival to champion the Pipeline Investment Fund. 

"Their support is a strong commitment to the heart and soul of the UK's music scene, nurturing its roots through the vital network of Grassroots Music Venues."

My Gurus: Voices of influence

Image of Melissa Thom
13 Feb 2024

From radio host to founder of an academy, Melissa Thom has always worked with the voice. Here she pays tribute to some of the inspirational people whose voices have influenced her.

PPL reports record high payments to performers

07 Feb 2024

Collective management organisation PPL paid out £279.6m to 165,000 performers and recording rights holders in 2023.

This marks an increase of £34.9m (14.3%) on the previous year and is the highest annual total ever paid out in PPL’s 90-year history.

The £279.6m includes a payment of £7.7m by VPL, PPL’s sister company, which licences music videos when they are played in public or broadcast on TV. The £7.7m was a £1.6m increase on the previous year.

PPL cited the continued recovery from the Covid pandemic, as more businesses re-opened in the UK and globally, as a key factor in achieving the record total.

Its members receiving payouts range from independent and major record companies, to grassroots artists, session musicians and globally renowned artists. 

“We understand these payments are critical for many and we pride ourselves on our ability to deliver them consistently and on time,” said PPL CEO Peter Leathem.

“As neighbouring rights continue to develop around the world, we see a huge opportunity ahead to grow our market share and maximise revenues for performers and recording rights holders.”

Edinburgh Fringe: Accommodation boost for performers

Exterior shot of Queen Margaret University
06 Feb 2024

Partnership between Fringe Society and local university forms part of efforts to double number of affordable rooms available to performers for the 2024 festival.

Music streaming code of practice published

31 Jan 2024

A code of practice to provide clarity over methods of calculating and reporting revenues from music streaming has been published.

Music Week reports that the voluntary code, published by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), has been developed and agreed by 12 music industry bodies representing music creators, record labels, publishers, digital service providers, distributors and collecting societies. 

Those to have signed up include Association of Independent Music, the British Phonographic Industry, the Independent Society of Musicians, the Musicians’ Union and PRS For Music.

The IPO will have oversight of the code and its implementation and will convene meetings of signatory organisations every six months to consider how the code is working, with a formal review in 2026.

"The Code is intended to act as a stimulus for companies and organisations to provide ever better communications with each other and with music makers," the IPO said. 

"It seeks to create a race to the top by driving up standards and encouraging parties to be transparent.  

"For the avoidance of doubt, any failure to abide by this Code shall not constitute a breach of any legislation or any relevant contracts, including licensing, recording, publishing and distribution agreements, which are regulated by their own terms."

UK visual artists earn £10m in royalties during 2023

29 Jan 2024

Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) has announced that it distributed £10.1m in Artist’s Resale Right (ARR) royalties in 2023.

The sum was split between 1,893 visual artists and estates, 228 of which were first-time payments to artists whose works had only recently begun selling above the threshold value of  €1,000 on the secondary market.

ARR was introduced into UK law in 2006. Since then, DACS has paid a total of over £125m in resale royalties, benefiting 6,121 artists and estates. 

Christian Zimmermann, DACS Chief Executive, said: “These monies recognise both artists' and estates' contributions to our society and the economy, with an art market worth £9.5bn and our creative industries contributing £116bn to UK GDP.

“Royalties go beyond financial transactions - they are essential catalysts for reinvestment, empowering artists to create and estates to preserve the artist's enduring legacy."

'Neglected housing' claim at artist studio scheme

Lakeside Centre
22 Jan 2024

Bow Arts provides low-cost housing and studios to artists in properties that have been deregistered from the housing list because they are due for demolition.


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