Kent Creative undertook a survey in 2022 that went to artists/practitioner, creative freelancers and arts organisations. It went to our mailing list of 1075 subscribers and was also shared on social media. According to the survey stats, there were 638 visits to the form for individuals and 319 visits to the one for organisations. A total of 193 responses to the survey were received from individuals and organisations scattered around Kent. The reason for fewer people completing it may be that it took at least 10 minutes to complete.
Individuals (167 responses) were mostly from the music, performing and visual arts 41.32% (69 individuals) and crafts 40.12% (67 individuals).
The majority had set up over 10 years ago (104 or 62%)
88% are self employed (145).
Several people spoke about trying to find a way to earn money from their work.
“I’d like to sell more, build my client list.”
32 were Faversham based – the largest group – with the rest pretty evenly scattered around Kent and Medway.
Practitioners reported their main issues were to generate an income, raise their profile, connect meaningfully, find fulfilment, gain recognition, wellbeing and impact on social outcomes in wider society. Their biggest challenges are selling (50%) marketing and promotion (39%).
“I’d like to grow my business and become well known.”
The majority worked solely as a creative practitioner 56.03% (65) but 18.97% (22) have an additional job also in the creative sector and 25.00% (29) in a non creative sector.
Organisations (26 responses) were also mainly from music, performing and visual arts 57.69% (15) and a slightly lower percentage from crafts 26.92% (7). An equal number were from design product, graphic and fashion design and film, TV, video, radio and photography 23.08% (6 organisations for each category). Publishing and Museums, Galleries and Libraries were both 15.38% (4 organisations for each category).
46% (12) organisations were founded 10 years ago or more with 23.08% (6) 2 years ago & 11.54% (3) 5 years ago.
Most respondents did not employ full time staff with 46.15% 12 reporting no employees and 34.62% (9) as having 1. Only 11.54% of respondents (3) had 10 or more employees. 30.77% (8) also reported having no part-time staff, with 26.92% (7) having 10 and more part time staff. 11.54% (6) had either 2 or 3 p-t staff members. 7.69% (4) reported having 1 or 4 part-time staff.
15.38% 4 each were from Margate and Folkestone. Chatham was next at 11.54% 3. 2 each 7.69% from Canterbury, London and Maidstone.
8 respondents rated Finances as an extremely important issue with 6 rating it slightly less of an urgent issue. 8 rated Marketing and Promotion as slightly less of a priority and only 4 people as a top priority. 6 cited time as an issue. Selling was an issue for 5 respondents.
“We’d like to reach a wide audience.”
Other issues cited by respondents were the cost of living crisis, affordable space, and a sense of competing rather than collaborating for resources.
In terms of identifying things that would remove barriers and improve challenges:
“We all work part-time so finding time to plan and market our services as well as to fundraise for new projects is difficult.”
In addition to comments about working for very little and this not being sustainable, respondent organisations also rely on personal funds (8 people), loans from friends and family (16) and bank loans (15). Respondents mentioned patrons (14) and sponsors (11).
The results show that organisations rely on a mixture of funds and revenue streams, some of which are public and some private/ commercial. There was a membership organisation in the mix and also groups of artists relying on sales for income, but also having to pay to exhibit their work at e.g. galleries and fairs.
Organisations ranged from those with a turnover of less than £10,000 per annum (5) to an equal number earning more than £100,000 per annum. The other 8 who completed the survey were in the medium range, between £30,000 to £50,000.
Roughly equal responses about making a profit were registered, but the number of not for profits vs commercial enterprises most likely account for this. Some responses show that even not for profits need to “break even” or reinvest in core activity. There was some despondency about the effects of Covid, the cost of living crisis and Brexit.