Making Art & Making a Living

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Edinburgh College of Art


Nikki Kane's doctoral research takes place under the title "Making Art & Making a Living: The role of festivals in contemporary arts careers", and builds on her recent curatorial research into experiences of contemporary labour, investigating these issues within the context of contemporary art, with particular reference to the impact of festivals. This Creative Economies Studentship is in partnership with two festivals, Glasgow International and Edinburgh Art Festival, and these will act as case studies for the project, offering opportunities for quantitative and qualitative field research while situating the project within a Scottish art-historical context and a wider national and international art ecology.

This research project aims to investigate issues of labour and career development in relation to both the specific impact and experiences of contemporary art, and wider critical discourse around contemporary labour issues such as precarity, technological change, identity and meaning. Crucially, this research aims to also investigate the impact of these issues, and the specific frameworks and approaches of festivals, on the artwork that is created - considering questions of scale, material, subject matter, site-specificity, duration.

Bringing together specific issues and findings with broader theoretical and international context, this project deals with a number of research questions:

How do the frameworks, external structures and curatorial approaches of Edinburgh Art Festival and Glasgow International impact on careers of contributing artists?
How do these circumstances impact on the artworks that artists make?
How can festivals and curatorial models acknowledge and support the working experience of artists and other practitioners?

The project will make use of a curatorial methods to create situations to gather, process, share and build research throughout the research programme, helping to maintain critical reflection and relevance throughout the project.

The research aims to reflect on, and shape the structures and curatorial strategies of future festivals, and to inform cultural policy in relation to career development for artists and others working in contemporary art.


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