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Report launched to government outlining new funding opportunity for visual artists

Smart Fund logo on red smoke background

DACS, along with a coalition of other arts organisations, have today launched a report to government outlining how the Smart Fund could generate between £250-300 million a year to better support visual artists and the wider cultural industries.

Following the Manifesto for Artists, published in March 2021, DACS has continued to lobby for the rights of artists and change how the government sustains funding for the visual arts. 

The Smart Fund: Tech Enabling Creativity, outlines how the Smart Fund can offer a sustainable funding opportunity to support artists by ensuring they receive fair remuneration when their work is used digitally.

In June, DACS announced support for the Smart Fund, which will use a small portion of the sale price of electronic devices that allow people to copy, store, and share creative content to fund artists and other creators. The Smart Fund is a proposal that does not add additional cost to consumers, but requires technology manufacturers to contribute financially towards sustaining culture. 

The Smart Fund echoes mechanisms that exist in 45 other countries, where levies applied to the sales of electronic devices are paid to creators as a copyright royalty. Many countries also use these funds to invest in cultural programmes with wider societal benefits. 

The new report sets out how the Smart Fund could not only directly benefit creators financially, but also establish a creative community fund that drives digital innovation and creativity for the next generation and support local cultural programmes.

DACS’ Manifesto for Artists shed light on the devastating impact that Covid-19 had on artists, who already often faced financial hardship. The new report for the Smart Fund demonstrates how this idea, new to the UK, could generate up to £300 million annually for both creators and communities.

Read the full report here.

The Smart Fund is an innovative and collaborative solution, at no cost to taxpayers or users of electronic devices, that pays creators fairly whilst still allowing consumers to share and download creative content within the law. Through the Smart Fund, technology companies can invest back into communities and recompense the creators of content used. The Smart Fund provides a sustainable way to rebuild the UK’s cultural economy and local communities without putting additional pressure on public funds.

Gilane Tawadros
Chief Executive, DACS

This problem is unique to digital content, but our legislation and regulation haven’t kept up with technology. The Smart Fund is a very clever way to underwrite these cultural loans through the investment of technology producers in economic benefits for the entire creative community. It’s a not a tax or a subsidy. It’s a regenerative economic development plan to make and keep a vital part of British industry and society more productive, diverse, and robust for years to come. If elsewhere, why not here? Why not now?

Margaret Heffernan
Chair of DACS board

Great ideas, like the Smart Fund, do not come along every day, certainly not ones that will deliver for our economy, for local communities and for Britain.

Sir Frank Bowling