Speech to TUC Women’s Conference 2018

London, February 2018
Speaker: Loraine Monk, AUE Executive Committee

Artists’ Union England moving

Motion 6 Women artists and the role of art in the community

 Artist Union England began in May 2014. Our stated aim is to challenge the economic inequalities in the art world by working together to negotiate fair pay and better working conditions for artists.

In real terms, over three-quarters of artists are getting just 37% of the average UK salary from their practice-66% of the living wage.

Culture is an essential part of human life, central to education, health and wellbeing. Art practice is one of the few professions where there are more women working than men.

However, women workers in the Arts industries have little status, suffer low pay, a lack of stability, rare maternity rights and no pension prospects. Most artists are self-employed. That means no rights, and no benefits protection.

The Conservative’s austerity policies have resulted in massive cuts in arts funding, both nationally in Schools and Colleges and regionally in arts education and arts services funded by Councils, including museum funding.  This has meant the loss of jobs not just in Education but community and museum work, all of which are predominantly work done by women .

The Tories are happy to have creative arts subjects taught in Public schools, just not in state schools. We have to end this class divide, we need art for everyone, made for everyone, representing everyone. So we are calling for

  • Art subjects to be included back in the  Education curriculums for all ages: STEAM not STEM subjects. Arts subjects help people learn, understand and create.
  • A Campaign for increased funding for art education in Colleges and Further education, reintroducing no fee courses. Funding education through life, for second chances, retraining and relearning, involving and supporting everyone, the elderly the disabled, the poor and the marginalised….

We are calling for a Campaign for increased funding for Regional and National Arts Organisations that can work with local Councils bringing art to deprived areas.

This means not cutting provision in London,  where there are still many deprived areas.. but ensuring there is provision everywhere, funding for rehearsal space and studio spaces and community centres where there can be paintings, sculptures, printing, plays, music, poetry, dance and film.

We are calling for a Campaign for increased funding for libraries, Gallery and museum services in local areas.

Preserving and sharing our history, the history of the working class, of women, of ethnic minorities. Community hubs, having the funding to stay open six days out of seven, rather than one out of seven,. Showing the objects that are in storage. stopping the dumping of objects so that there are projects for the future. Accessible to everyone.

The arts industries should be to be more central in future economic planning. Predicted shifts of labour due to improved technology means we should be directing efforts towards cultural and creative work spaces – including creativity in working lives and recreation.

The effect of the fourth Industrial revolution, in particular, Robotics is critical, in the US predictions are that up to  80% low pay/skill jobs might be  replaced. 40% of  high skill jobs.

Fundamental questions then follow- what does it mean to be human? What is meaningful work in the future? How does that relate to our identities?

Our labour movement needs to be in the forefront of developing a future for women and men. Three-day weekend. Universal guaranteed incomes, new job creation, in the creative industries.. work that robots cant make….

A UN report suggested that the creative industries are worth revenues of $2,250 billion, the cultural and creative industries are found to account for 3% of world GDP. They employ 29.5 million people – more people than the car industries of Europe, Japan and the USA combined.

Our creative industries help build sustainable economies, provide local jobs, generate revenues and taxes and enable millions of people, many of them young, to make a living from their talent.

At and its enjoyment is not for the rich, not for those in public school. It is for us to make and us to have to enrich our lives, for us, for our people, for everyone…it’s about about planning communities  are for people to live in to grow in and to celebrate culture from across the world that speaks to us of our own situation and of others, our  hopes, fears and dreams . Shared for the common good.

I move