A new manifesto by the Scottish Contemporary Arts Network, Scottish Artists Union and Engage Scotland has set out the visual arts sector’s key aspirations and commitments.

Photo of fruitmarket gallery

Artists and galleries in Scotland have come together with a set of ambitions to “urgently address” inequality in the industry.

Focusing on workers’ rights, diversity, and strengthened public funding, the 19-point manifesto has been produced jointly by the Scottish Contemporary Art Network (SCAN), which represents over 200 professionals and institutions, the Scottish Artists Union and Engage Scotland.

It sets out several key aspirations and commitments, including:

  • Recognising that art is vital for health and wellbeing
  • Encouraging policy makers to put culture at the heart of decision making
  • Shining a light on the sector’s reliance on low paid work and diminishing investment
  • Calling for more, longer-term public funding to support the creative and professional development of artists, workers and organisations.

In addition, it pledges to defend “the right of art and artists to move freely across borders” and to take “urgent action” to create a visual arts sector that promotes equality of opportunity for all.

The group have said the document is the first public response to Scotland’s National Culture Strategy, due to be published in late 2018. It aims to help ensure “we maintain Scotland’s global reputation as a dynamic, innovative place for contemporary visual arts”.

“We passionately believe in the important, intrinsic value of art and artists within society,” said Seonaid Daly, Director of SCAN. “This needs to be better understood and articulated, championed, and protected. But we also acknowledge change is needed.

“This manifesto makes public our commitment to work together, with others and with urgency to address the significant challenges and inequalities that exist within the visual arts in Scotland.”

Arts funding

The manifesto’s publication last week came days before the unexpected news that the Scottish Government will be increasing its arts budget over the next three years, with an additional £6.6m a year for national funder Creative Scotland specifically to support its Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs).

The announcement followed repeated warnings from national funder Creative Scotland that a fall in National Lottery income would force it to cut funding to its RFOs. It will allocate funding to its 2018-21 portfolio in January.

The new manifesto is intended to be a live document and will be updated regularly.