Members Survey Report - Showcasing Practice

Members Survey Report - Showcasing Practice


The Scottish Artists Union is interested in knowing about how artists go about showcasing their practice....


“There seems to be less opportunities to showcase work these days. Moreplaces and people are tightening their belts”

The Scottish Artists Union is interested in knowing about how artists go about showcasing their practice. The survey asked members to give details on the opportunities that are available to them to showcase their work, and to comment on any changes there may be to the opportunities available. This section provides an overview of the responses to these questions.


Artists were asked to state how many opportunities they received to showcase their practice in 2017-2018. Examples include exhibitions/public commissions/performances/events etc.

A total of 98 people answered this question; the majority (81%) answered between 1 and 9 opportunities, 1 in 10 (10%) answered between 10 and 19, and only 2% have had between 20 and 35 opportunities to showcase their work. Some members provided descriptive responses such as ‘not many’, ‘several’,and ‘very few’. Four members said they had no opportunities to showcase their work in the last year.

Members were also asked how many opportunities had been self-initiated; 94 people answered this question. Almost all (87%) answered between 0 and 8, and one member answered 35. Four members stated that all their opportunities had been self-initiated, two members stated ‘half, and one stated ‘the majority. One member explained that they are represented by a gallery where their work is on show all the time. Two people indicated that they did not understand the question.

When asked to compare opportunities against the previous year (2016-2017), 98 people responded. Just over a quarter (26%) said that things had improved, over half (58%) felt it is about the same, and 16% felt that it is worse.

Members were asked to comment on any changes in circumstances had changed over the last year, both positively and negatively. For those who felt that things had improved, this was largely due to them taking a different approach to how they go about showcasing their work, either due to them gaining in experience, skills and confidence and/or growing their networks. Some felt they are also now in a better place to make the most of the opportunities that had been made available to them.

It was my second year of being self-employed and I'm more established and have built morerelationships, so I think this is why it was better.”

“It’s certainly to do with my efforts and openness to opportunities. My skills have become more advanced, and so I feel I now put on a better show. I also am now self-employed and so I have the freedom to take on more work relating tomy practice. Networking has also helped.”

Where members felt things had gotten worse, this was largely due to two main reasons; firstly, the economy, and people commenting that there is limited funding available, disposable income is falling and people are less likely to buy their artwork. One artist shared an interesting example about how a local restaurant that had showcased their work had closed down, therefore highlighting the potential knock-on effect of a slower economy on opportunities available for artists.

Other reasons included personal circumstances, such as illness, caring responsibilities, changing location, or the need to earn more money and so moving their attention to other means of earning a living.

“Showcasing practice has not been a priority until now due to work and time constraints.”


The Trends

There continues to be very little fluctuation in the availability of opportunities for members to showcase their practice. Similar to last year’s survey which was 59%, this year 58% of members indicated that they believe the number of opportunities remained unchanged, and only 16% believe there were fewer opportunities, up from 14% in 2017. Roughly one quarter (26%) believe there were more opportunities, which is steady in comparison to previous years.

Download the full report here

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