Acme Studios — #41 Acme Artist Tenant Surveys 2014 and 2023

Supporting Artists since 1972

#41 Acme Artist Tenant Surveys 2014 and 2023

50 stories from The Acme Archive

In the last ten years, Acme has carried out two artist tenant surveys. The first in 2014 focused heavily on artists experiences of their studio facilities while, nearly a decade later, the focus of the 2023 survey looked more closely at who are tenants are. By learning more about Acme’s artist tenants, we hoped to better support them by understanding the complex and varied needs of artists today. Another focus was on the financial positions and struggles our artists now face, reflecting the cost-of-living crisis of intensifying austerity nine years on from the first survey.

The 2023 survey is divided into two parts: part one looks at tenant data to gain a fuller picture of the artists we currently support and identify areas of improvement, while part two builds on this data with more detailed information on tenant experiences, provided anonymously and with space for comments. Overall, out of Acme’s 853 artist tenants, 226 (26.49%) submitted responses to part one and 192 (22.50%) replied to part two of the survey.

On top of particular and everyday precarity, the widespread economic, social and political impacts of recent years are taking a toll on artists’ resilience. Financial pressures, precarious working conditions and the cost-of-living crisis paint an increasingly grim picture of artists’ lived realities. Despite Acme artists’ dedication to their practice, these challenges have a negative impact on how much time they spend in their studios. They also result in the need for additional labour to fund their practice and housing, which impacts artists’ physical and mental health. In our 2014 Acme Tenant Survey, 10% of respondents considered themselves to have a disability, or a physical or mental health condition. Almost ten years on, this figure has doubled to 20%. Increasing financial pressures and the cost-of-living crisis have left many artists doubting the feasibility of continuing their practice.

The majority of artists working in London combine working non-art jobs with their art practice. in 2023, on average respondents' artistic practice represented 33% of their income and they had 1.5 sources of additional income. Out of the 157 respondents that replied to this question, only 12% said that they could support themselves solely through their artistic practice.

In both surveys, we asked our tenants how many hours they were spending a week on average in their studios. with the most common answer being between 21-30 hours (34.84%), followed by 11-20 hours (23.98%), 31-­40 hours (18.1%), 1-10 hours (15.38%) and more than 40 hours (7.69%).

In 2023, respondents spent an average of 29 hours a week on their artistic practice, representing 65% of their time spent on income-generating activities. On average, their artistic practice represented 33% of respondents’ income and respondents had 1.5 sources of additional income.

By publicly releasing our tenant survey, we hope to build understanding of the specific commitment and situation of artists whose practice requires physical studio space.

With over 1000 artists on our waiting list to secure long-term occupancy at an affordable level, it’s clear that there are not enough genuine options for artist studios with long-term tenure in London. It is our hope that these findings can inform decision-making, discussions and commitments towards making permanent places for artists to live and work in London and beyond.

The 2023 Acme Artist Tenant Survey is available to read on our website.