A NEW arts strategy for Scotland has called for the arts and artists to be placed at the heart of society – and to be paid fairly for their work.

The strategy published by Creative Scotland today is the strongest backing made by the organisation towards the arts.

It points out that in Scotland around 80 per cent of artists earn less than £10,000 per annum through their artistic output. Two thirds earn less than £5,000 and only two per cent are able to generate earnings over £20,000 – still far below the median wage for Scotland which was £26,427 in 2013/14.

The report states: “This means artists often have to secure other employment alongside being an artist, or self-fund through a variety of ways including help from families, in order to pursue their practice.

“This is clearly only possible for a few and means artists with more affluent backgrounds can seek ways to support themselves as opposed to those who do not have this as an option.”

A recent UK-wide survey highlighted it is those from wealthier backgrounds who are most likely to consider entering into the arts professionally.

The report continues: “This trend carries real risks if UK culture becomes homogenised and disconnected from the breadth of society and loses its edge and relevance within the world.”

Admitting Creative Scotland had in the past “stepped away from the support that individuals needed,” director of arts and engagement Leonie Bell said the new strategy was an attempt to understand what sort of support was required at a time when available resources were being cut.

She said: “It is not just about funding but is also about advocacy so we are all able to feel that if we are investing in an artist we are investing in society.

“Artists, cultural producers and arts organisations are a central part of a healthy, innovative and dynamic society. Art and culture sit at the heart of who we are as a nation, should be valued in and of themselves and I’m pleased we are publishing the Arts Strategy at a time when artists from all over the world are gathering in Edinburgh for the summer festivals.

“The strategy places value on the contribution artists make to our society and our communities. It calls for greater commitment to paying artists fairly for their work to enable them to sustain their careers.

“This is a living document designed to stimulate debate and challenge and we will use this strategy to help us become more progressive in how we, as a nation, support artists and the arts. It sets out how we will work with the cultural sector in Scotland to put art and artists at the heart of society in Scotland.”

The Arts Strategy sets out a range of commitments for Creative Scotland to support the arts, including developing a stronger financial context for artists to work in, including fair pay for artists and approaches to funding and support, raising the profile of the value of artists among people and communities in Scotland, and beyond and working with the arts sector to build resilience and sustainability through imaginative thinking for both artists and organisations.

Creative Scotland also wants to increase participation in and public engagement with the arts in all its forms and to continue to increase the range and diversity of perspectives that help shape how it supports the arts in the future across all parts of Scotland and society.

Another commitment is to hosting a series of debates across Scotland over the next two years to discuss the opportunities and challenges ahead.

The strategy was welcomed by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop.

She said: “We have a vibrant, confident arts scene in Scotland but we need to do more to ensure artists and also young people in wider communities can realise more fully their potential,” she said.

“Refreshing Creative Scotland’s overall approach in relation to the arts in terms of funding; development; advocacy and influence is welcome.”