More than 100 British artists propose to create a fund to support creative industries



Through an open letter, a coalition composed of Creators and Performers from different disciplines of the United Kingdom, supported the creation of the Smart Fund for an “economic and cultural renewal” of the country. Through a tax of 1% to 3% on the sale of electronic devices, such as mobile phones and laptops, this fund might collect up to 300 million pounds a year, which would be allocated to creative industries, “providing technology companies a direct way to invest in culture.”


This tax, applied to devices which allow users to download and store creative content, would imply an “economic and cultural renewal” and “would promote a broader economic recovery of the United Kingdom.” Concerning the implied benefit that the technology industry acquires from artistic creations, the letter expressed the wish of an equivalent stimulus, but in the opposite direction: “arts provide sustenance to the engine room of cultural regeneration, recovery and renewal for the whole country. The Smart Fund is the route to supporting this.” This feedback system of industries is similar to the private copying system which exists in many European countries.


Yinka Shonibare: Photo by Jill Mead - The Guardian

Yinka Shonibare (ambassador of the Smart Fund and member of DACS - the UK's Designers’ and Artists’ Copyright Society, one of the organizations which signed the proposal), declared that: “Currently there isn’t any effective way for Creators to be compensated when their works are downloaded and stored by audiences. This remains one of the largest untapped opportunities for Creators and Performers. The Smart Fund provides a way to invest in creative talent of all ages and backgrounds and their communities.” As per DACS, schemes like the Smart Fund "exist and operate successfully" in 44 countries worldwide, and have compensated the use of Creators and Performers’ works with over 930 million pounds in 2018 alone.


Gilane Tawadros -Photo by iniva.org

Gilane Tawadros (Chief Executive of DACS), expressed that “when working with the tech industry and innovators in this sector, we want to support creators and performers in order to rebuild and activate the UK’s world leading cultural heritage, tourism, and creative industries and contribute to its soft power and international standing”.



Margaret Heffernan - Photo by www.ted.com

Margaret Heffernan (visual artist and Chair of DACS), published an article in the Financial Times, on last July 4, in which she explained that Germany, France, Belgium and Italy are the nations where this scheme is most consolidated and all European countries (except Monaco) have this mechanism, as well as many other countries of the world, such as Israel, Japan, Malawi, Morocco and Tunisia. Heffernan explained that this is not the case in the United Kingdom: “No such mechanism exists here. It may change. Smart funds are being billed as a collaboration between creators and performers, tech companies and governments as a direct way to invest in the UK’s economic, social and cultural wealth.” On the other hand, she proposed to invest the funds raised “in artists of all ages and backgrounds as a means of contributing to Britain’s economic and cultural upheaval”, and, at the same time, much of the money raised “would be paid directly to the artists as royalties through an existing collection body, such as which I chair”.


In addition, Heffernan claimed that a percentage of the money raised should be allocated to provide support to cultural projects of young and emerging creators. “All of these will be managed and determined in collaboration with existing governments, technology companies, and collection bodies to distribute copyright revenues," wrote Heffernan.


The President of DACS insists that the creation of the Smart Fund will be “an opportunity for tech companies to work with governments and the creative industries in renewing UK cultural life”, through “a transparent, collaborative and sustainable way, to inspire and enhance the expressive activity of artists who make the UK world-famous.”