Permindar Kaur, visual artist

Permindar Kaur is a sculpture and installation artist who lives and works in the UK. Here she explains the importance of providing funding for individual creators. 

Getting funding for individual artists is enormously difficult. The current trend in funding is more focused on participation, engagement, or community, which is very welcome, but makes the practice of art for individual agendas or interests unsustainable.

The tech sector platform is immensely profitable. Creatives contribute to it massively, maybe not as paid members but providing visual culture. It could be an ideal source of income for art individuals. It would hopefully provide a regular funding stream that I could put back into my practice. Every contribution, however small, helps me to carry on making artwork. An innovative way of doing this is with a fund from the tech sector for artists.

New modes of funding will broaden and increase opportunities for visual artists. The Arts Council is among the limited number of funders that allow individuals to apply, with just a 30% success rate. Funding is incredibly competitive, and artists try to access various resources, partnering with academics, institutions, and others, but too often development of projects is not supported. Artists are often lucky to receive travel expenses, and we often subsidise the development of projects. Getting commissions and getting into exhibitions is also very competitive. Popular programming means experimental or lesser-known artists are less likely to be commissioned or exhibited. This is particularly problematic for mid-career or mature artists.

Funding has allowed me to continue practising as an artist, providing vital income to push my work in new and exciting directions to create challenging installations.

An artist’s career is very inconsistent and difficult to plan. Sometimes I’m asked to take part in lots of things at the same time and then there are periods where there is nothing. As a freelance artist without representation, I don’t have a guaranteed income. It’s feast or famine. Largely famine.

In the past funding has made a huge difference by supporting my practice, facilitating the creation of new and innovative work for exhibitions. It has increased the visibility of my work to the professional sector and the public. Lastly, it’s supported me in training me up and learning new skills, including how to market my own work.

Funding has allowed me to continue practising as an artist, providing vital income to push my work in new and exciting directions to create challenging installations. It’s also given me time to experiment and explore new directions. For example, I received funding for a 9-month residency at the University of Hertfordshire. Here I had access to technical support, support from academics and curators in an environment, which enabled me to take risks in my work. Direct funding to me, and indirect funding to institutions that show my work, makes my practice viable. We are enormously lucky to have vibrant public sector funding for the arts, but it is getting more limited and competitive.

During a recent show at the HS Projects Space in London, I put a lot of effort in to promote my work across social media platforms. I provide content for these platforms who gain most if not all the financial benefits. It is impossible to know if my images are being used or shared elsewhere. There is no way to track this, leaving me with little financial return for the work I do.

The Smart Fund could become a separate income stream, which would cover some of the costs of being an artist. I would be paid for the content I am providing. It would make the content I provide for social media much more beneficial. In addition to funding artists, the fund itself would raise the profile of artists and their work. The social media platforms would also benefit by being seen to be contributing financial support to artists in the UK.

First image: Permindar Kaur photographed by Brian Benson. Second image: Independence, 1998, Permindar Kaur © Permindar Kaur. All Rights Reserved, DACS/Artimage 2021. Photo: Nick Dunmur

Payment for creators and performers

The UK is behind other countries in keeping up with technological developments.

Leading manufacturers are already paying into similar schemes in 45 countries around the world, generating over £900 million a year for creators and performers.

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