Cultural figures back calls for Smart Fund levy to boost creative industries

Leading cultural figures, including actress Olivia Colman and artist Sir Frank Bowling, have backed calls for a one-off levy on devices used to download and store “creative content” in order to boost the arts.

Organisers say the Smart Fund could raise up to £300 million a year from payments of between 1-3% of the sales value of devices including mobiles, laptops and PCs.

The money would be paid into a central fund used to “fairly reward creators and performers in making a living from their content,” according to the fund.

Imelda Staunton
Imelda Staunton has backed the Smart Fund (Matt Crossick/PA)

Similar schemes exist in 44 countries, according to the Smart Fund, which is made up of groups representing visual artists, writers, performers and directors.

The Smart Fund says it would generate “huge” annual investment for the creative industries and boost a wider economic recovery.

It says its backers include Oscar, Bafta and Turner Prize winners such as The Crown star Colman, Sir Frank, actress Imelda Staunton and artists Rachel Whiteread and Yinka Shonibare.

Gilane Tawadros, chief executive of the Design And Artists Copyright Society (DACS), one of the groups backing the Smart Fund, said: “Working with the tech industry and innovators in this sector, we want to support creators and performers, to rebuild and enable the UK’s world leading cultural heritage, tourism and creative industries and contribute to its soft power and international standing.

“The arts provide sustenance to the engine room of cultural regeneration, recovery and renewal for the whole country.”

Shonibare said: “The Smart Fund is a no brainer. Currently there isn’t any effective way for creators to be recompensed when their work is 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.”