ixia’s Public Art Surveys

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ixia’s Public Art Survey 2015

SUMMARY: More projects, more work for artists and consultants and an increase in the value of the public art sector in England, which continues to be driven by private sector money aligned to public sector policy via the planning system. However, there is evidence of a sharp regional divide with around 57% of public art projects happening in London, the South East and the South West, which are home to 41% of the population.

At the end of 2015, ixia undertook its fourth public art survey. As before, it has to be stressed that a dominant characteristic of the public art sector is that it is non-institutional and fragmented: encompassing a variety of disciplines; involving a diverse range of public and private sector organisations; embracing a wide range of work/employment contexts; and subject to varying degrees of economic lag, which makes quantitative analysis challenging.

The key findings of the survey are:

  • During 2015, between 1,200 and 1,300 people were working in the sector in a full-time, a part-time or a freelance capacity. This is a significant increase from around 900 people in 2013, and is similar to the amount we estimated for 2011.
  • We estimate that the overall value of the sector increased from around £58m in 2013 to around £70m in 2015.
  • The main driver for public art continued to be private sector money aligned to public sector policy, especially the planning system. The recovery in the housing and development sectors and the inclusion of cultural well-being and public art within national planning policies and guidance appear to have generated more funding and opportunities for public art at a local level.
  • Overall, the age profile of the workforce continued to increase. Since 2011, those in the 25 to 44 age group have decreased from 45% to 34%, whilst those in the 45 to 64 age group have increased from 49% to 56%.
  • The survey continued to show a predominantly female workforce: 65% female and 35% male (the overall average from 2011 to 2015 was 63% female and 37% male), with the female age profile being distinctly younger than the male age profile.
  • Per head of population, there was a large disparity between the spread of new public art projects. For London, the South West and the South East the average was 28 new projects per million people and for the rest of England the average was 15 new projects per million people. The South West was the highest with 39 new projects per million people, whereas the East was the lowest with 10 new projects per million people, although these were of higher monetary value.

To download the 2015 survey’s full summary and key findings, please click here.

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ixia’s Public Art Survey 2013

SUMMARY: Despite a fall in jobs and fees, overall funding in the public art sector increased slightly during 2013. Recovery in the housing and development sectors and the use of national planning policies and guidance that promote public art began to generate new opportunities at a local level, which will filter through to artists over the coming years.

During autumn 2013, ixia undertook its third public art survey. As in previous years, the dominant characteristic of the sector was its non-institutional and fragmented structure: encompassing a variety of disciplines; involving a diverse range of public and private sector organisations; embracing a wide range of work/employment contexts; and being subject to varying degrees of economic lag, which makes quantitative analysis challenging.

The key findings of the survey are:

  • The public art sector’s overall value increased slightly from £55m in 2012 to £58m in 2013, although there was a fall in jobs and fees.
  • The main driver for public art continued to be private sector money aligned to public sector policy, especially the planning system. Over the three years from 2011 to 2013, we estimate that the overall value of the public art sector was around £167m, of which £90m was raised via the capital budgets and planning agreements generated by local authorities. During 2013, their spend on public art increased from £29m in 2012 to £37m in 2013.
  • The recovery in the housing and development sectors and the inclusion of cultural well-being and public art within national planning policies and guidance began to generate more funding and opportunities for public art at a local level.
  • Socially engaged practice and art and architecture remained the most typical forms of public art projects, with outdoor arts and events-based activities showing a steady growth in popularity.
  • Overall, the age profile of the workforce continued to increase. Since 2012, those in the 25 to 44 age group decreased from 38% to 35%, whilst those in the 45 to 64 age group increased from 56% to 58%.
  • The survey continued to show a predominantly female workforce: 64% female and 36% male (the average from 2011 to 2013 was 63% female and 37% male), with the female age profile being distinctly younger than the male age profile.

To download key findings from the 2013 survey, please click here.

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ixia’s Public Art Survey 2012

SUMMARY: The Cultural Olympiad masked a significant fall in the size and value of the public art sector in England. In addition, the sector experienced a loss of younger workers, including younger artists, as well as officers within local authorities.

During autumn 2012, ixia undertook its second public art survey. The findings of the survey have been compared to those from 2011 and this has enabled us to begin to identify and examine trends relating to the public art sector in England. However, it has to be stressed that both surveys revealed a sector that is fragmented. Public art encompasses a variety of disciplines and organisations including arts, planning, local authorities, development, regeneration, health and education. As a result, there are a wide range of work contexts that include: self-employed, which applies to the majority and comprises artists and public art consultants; full-time and part-time public art employees; full-time and part-time public art employees who have some involvement with public art; voluntary workers; and students.

Having correlated the survey’s sample with known population distributions, ixia’s databases and other data sources, we are able to make the following observations and estimates about the public art sector in England:

  • During 2012 there was an active and core public art sector of at least 1,000 people (20% less than in 2011) working within a market with a value of at least £53m (6% less than in 2011). The fall in market value was less than the sector was anticipating, with the Cultural Olympiad contributing up to £11m to ameliorate the impact of the recession;
  • The main driver for the public art sector continued to be private sector money aligned to public sector policy, although we estimate that funding for public art via the planning system and capital projects undertaken by local authorities fell from £33m during 2011 to £22m during 2012;
  • Art and architecture and socially engaged practice remained the most typical forms of public art projects, with events-based activities becoming more common within local authorities and arts organisations;
  • The most important role for public art was shaping local, regional and national identity. This was followed by improving the design of the environment and performing an important social function;
  • Commercial and retail developers valued public art as something good to do that improved the design of the environment and performed an important social role;
  • Some housing developers believed that public art improved ‘kerb appeal’ and enhanced the impact and quality of their developments, but the main reason that they commissioned public art was because planners within local authorities requested its provision;
  • Consultants and artists were more optimistic about the future than in 2011, but those workers closer to funding sources remained more pessimistic;
  • In the longer term, recovery in the construction industry should eventually drive growth in public art. However, changes in planning policy guidance and a loss of officers within local authorities mean that new approaches to commissioning and delivery will need to evolve;
  • Overall, the age profile of the workforce was older in 2012 than it was in 2011. Those in the 25 to 44 age group decreased from 45% to 38%, whilst those in the 45 to 64 age group increased from 49% to 55%;
  • The survey continued to show a predominantly female workforce: 62% female vs. 38% male, with the female age profile being distinctly younger than the male age profile. Compared with the 2011 survey, there was a 5% increase in the percentage of male workers;
  • 94% of workers were white and 3% of workers were disabled. These percentages were consistent with those for 2011.

To download key findings from the 2012 survey, please click here.

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ixia’s Public Art Survey 2011

SUMMARY: Public sector cutbacks and the wider economic downturn are fuelling a general pessimism in the public art sector, although there remains significant optimism amongst many of the more established artists.

Nearly 700 people participated in ixia’s Public Art Survey 2011. Of these, 500 work in the public art sector in the UK. However, our sample sizes for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are too small to be confident in using the data, so the key findings concentrate on public art in England.

The survey is the first of its kind, and deals with a fragmented public art sector that can be difficult to define. The sector encompasses a variety of disciplines and organisations including: arts, planning, local authorities, development, regeneration, health and education. As a result, there are a wide range of work contexts that include: self-employed, which applies to the majority and comprises artists and public art consultants; full-time and part-time public art employees; full-time and part-time employees who have some involvement with public art; voluntary workers; and students.

Having correlated the survey’s sample with known population distributions, ixia’s databases and other data sources, we are able to make the following observations and estimates:

+ In England, during 2010-11, there was an active and core public art sector of at least 1,250 people in a market worth at least £56m;

+ The public art sector is largely driven by private sector money aligned to public sector policy. We estimate that 80% of public art funding can be linked to public art policies within local authorities and the regeneration, health and education sectors;

+ Many artists are optimistic about the future, but those workers closer to funding sources are much more pessimistic, predicting a fall of 40% in the overall size of the market during 2011-12;

+ We expect the recessionary trend in funding to continue in 2012-13 (and beyond), but there may be some amelioration as a result of public art projects linked to the Olympics;

+ In the long-term, a recovery in the development and regeneration sectors could drive growth in public art. This is dependent upon there being staff in place to implement planning policy structures for public art. We expect these policies to remain – in some form – in many local authorities. However, around 60% of local authority employees with responsibility for public art are either unsure about, or expecting to lose, their jobs;

+ Overall, the survey shows a predominantly female workforce: 64% female vs. 36% male. This breaks down as follows:

  • For artists: 54% female vs. 46% male, with an older age profile for both females and males tending towards the 45 to 64 range;
  • For consultants: 70% female vs. 30% male. The age range for females is evenly distributed between 25 to 44 (47.5%) and 45 to 65 (47.5%). For males, 66% are aged between 45 to 64;
  • For salaried posts: 70% female vs. 30% male, with 67% of females aged between 25 to 44, and 62% of males aged between 45 to 64;
  • The workforce is predominantly white (95%);
  • 4% of respondents have a disability.

+ The cost of individual public art projects ranges from nothing to millions of pounds. The average cost of a public art project commissioned by a local authority, or via the regeneration, health and education sectors is approximately £73,000;

+ The most important role for public art is believed to be shaping national and regional identity. This is followed by improving the design of the environment, and then by performing an important social function.

To download key findings from the 2011 survey, please click here.