Leading creatives call for tax on tech devices to help the arts

Dozens of names in the arts propose that a tax is placed on devices to support the creative content consumed on them. What do you think?

Over 100 figures in the arts, including Olivia Colman and Frank Bowling, want gadget sales revenue to go towards a pot for artists and creators.

The Smart Fund tax would be between 1 per cent and 3 per cent of the total cost of a tech device. That means bits of kit that can download or store creative content, including PCs, laptops and smartphones.

This fund could generate as much as £300m a year for the creative sector. There’ll be more if smart TVs or cloud-based technology get taxed. It would raise up to £25m for visual artists alone, doubling their current resale royalties – a pot of £20m a year.

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It’s a collaboration between UK’s creative industry, technology sector and the government. The government’s initial reaction was ‘positive’, according to the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS), who are behind the campaign. Similar schemes run in 44 other countries and they generated £930m in 2018 for creators.

Gilane Tawadros, chief executive of DACS, 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.”

Artist Yinka Shonibare said: “Currently there isn’t any effective way for creators to be recompensed when their work is downloaded and stored by audiences.”

Those who oppose say it would be an extra tax on consumers. A spokeswoman from techUK said: “It is an arbitrary tax on consumers that is hugely bureaucratic to manage, with no transparency on how funds are disbursed and spent.”

“Shoppers buying a new phone or laptop might have a lot of questions about why they should have to pay such additional charges, when they already pay a significant amount of VAT.”

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