UK celebs call for tax on iPhones & Macs to help fund creative arts

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 29
A number of major artists and stars in the UK, including Oscar winner Olivia Colman, have called for a tax to be placed against devices like the iPhone to raise millions of pounds to help fund artists.




Launched on Monday, the Smart Fund is proposed as a way to raise up to 300 million pounds ($415 million) per year, which will go towards funding creative industries in the United Kingdom. To achieve this, the project offers that a small levy could be applied to technology sales in the country.

A levy of between 1% and 3% of the sales value of smartphones, computers, and other devices that are "built to allow people to store and download content" is proposed, which would be fed into a central fund, and then distributed to content producers.

The fund believes this will help creators "sustain a living from their content, support and bring together communities, and put different parts of the UK on an equal footing." It also claims that existing similar projects exist in 44 countries around the world, collectively raising 930 million pounds ($1.29 billion) in 2018 alone.

Celebrity backers include Olivia Colman, Imelda Staunton, Yinka Shonibare, Sir Frank Bowling, and Rachael Whiteread, among others. There are also claims that the Smart Fund is an opportunity to help creators across the country who were negatively affected by COVID-19, due to the closure of venues and cancellation of events.

"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," according to Design and Artists Copyright Society chief executive Gilane Tawadros. "The arts provide sustenance to the engine room of cultural regeneration, recovery and renewal for the whole country"

While the project has received considerable attention in the country in a short space of time, it seems that it serves more as a call to action rather than an official proposal to the UK government itself. The UK also has numerous existing projects for funding the arts, including grants from regional Arts Councils funded by the National Lottery.

Critics are also concerned that it may appear as a tax on consumer spending. "It is an arbitrary tax on consumers that is hugely bureaucratic to manage, and with no transparency on how funds are disbursed and spent," said a spokesperson for Tech UK to the BBC, adding that consumers may ask why they have to pay an extra tax on top of "a significant amount of VAT."

In 2019, the UK parliament reckoned arts and culture contributed 10.47 billion pounds ($14.5 billion) to the economy, helping to fund an estimated 226,000 jobs.

While devices that can view content is seemingly the target of the campaign, there is the argument that major firms funding the content in the first place could be a source of additional funding. For example, it is estimated Netflix spent 260 million pounds (360 million) on the first two seasons of the drama "The Crown," a show which stars Colman, with the service also planning to spend $17 billion on new content globally in 2021.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    OR...the artists in question could convince people to buy their art outright, like most other art forms, e.g. games, movies, books.

    "People won't buy my artwork.  I want the government to make them buy it!"
    ikirmike1TheObannonFiledewmelkruppJWSCPezazeus423linkmanBeats
  • Reply 2 of 39
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,109member
    Get your hands off Other Peoples’ Money you frigging parasites.

    As a novel approach, how about you yarts people produce some art people might be prepared to you know, pay for?

    And if this was remotely true:
    In 2019, the UK parliament reckoned arts and culture contributed 10.47 billion pounds ($14.5 billion) to the economy, helping to fund an estimated 226,000 jobs. 
    There is absolutely no need for such a tax, unless of course one wants to develop an inefficient and bureaucratic way to maintain otherwise chip fryers with the lifestyle they think they deserve, if not earn.

    mike1TheObannonFilelinkmanBeatsmacplusplusbeowulfschmidtrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 39
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,267member
    How about they just create something of value that people in the UK and across the world will actually pay money for? It seems like the UK is looking for a free ride. 
    mike1TheObannonFilezeus423linkmanBeatsrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 39
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,739member
    I don't hate the idea. The fact that so much of the Arts Council is funded by the Lottery is pretty grotesque, while a sur-tax on luxury electronics is far more palateable. However, the Smart Fund website says

    The Smart Fund is proposed as a collaboration between creators and performers, technology companies and the Government.

    I suggest that if tech companies are expected to contribute, then creators and performers, particularly the higher earning ones, should also. That's collaboration.
    repressthis
  • Reply 5 of 39
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,109member
    The problem with funding bureaucratic Arts Councils (and their myriad cousins) is that the “Arts Community” ends up producing art to chase grant income and appeal to the gatekeepers on the Councils. 

     The plebs end up with a product that does nothing for them.  And worse, end up paying twice. First through their taxes and then a second time at the ticket office,  if they are silly enough to turn up for a look see.

    I reckon it is your civic duty to pirate Arts Council funded stuff on Channel BT.
    edited June 29 mike1JWSCrepressthis
  • Reply 6 of 39
    ikirikir Posts: 111member
    Ah ah ah ah ah ah!

    No seriously:
    Ah ah ah ah ah ah!
    TheObannonFilezeus423repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 39
    So it's a "Go fund me!" campaign writ large?!?! Let me answer:

    "Go fund yourself!"
    TheObannonFileikirzeus423BeatsFileMakerFellerrepressthis
  • Reply 8 of 39
    Option 1 - These celebs fund it.

    Option 2 - Use their influence to promote it directly.

    Not an option - force other people to pay for it.
    edited June 29 zeus423muthuk_vanalingamrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 39
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,077member
    Yeah, right; so the mega successful artists and their managers get even more money and power, while the artists who’d actually need to money wouldn’t get anything. Because you can bet, the distribution key is sales based, which heavily favors those with massive promotions budgets and access to official sales channels.

    So, thanks, but no thanks!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 39
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,511member
    All sources of income for any government go into one bag of money. All government expenses come out of that one bag. There's no way to enforce that the government use income from source A to fund program B. (At least not in my country, in other countries there could be multiple branches of government with their own independent sources of income.)

    Basically, this group is asking for more taxes and more government spending on their special interest. It is neither criminal nor immoral to ask for more taxes and more government spending. But it's self serving when such requests come from special interest groups who are only concerned with themselves. I prefer listening to people who are concerned with the whole system and the big picture.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 39
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,739member
    All sources of income for any government go into one bag of money. All government expenses come out of that one bag. There's no way to enforce that the government use income from source A to fund program B. (At least not in my country, in other countries there could be multiple branches of government with their own independent sources of income.)
    Is your country the UK?  Don't answer, it's not, so why even say this?

    Governments set their own budgets, they know what money comes from where, and they're perfectly capable of regulating that, and can be held accountable if they don't.  And it's certainly possible to have more than one "bag".  
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 12 of 39
    (Before saying my piece I just want to make clear that I'm not attempting to either defend or criticise this proposal).

    As someone involved in the arts in the UK, I can confirm that there are two major issues in the current British arts landscape.

    The first issue is a general lack of funding: since 2000ish, the vast majority of our most successful actors, writers, comedians, musicians, artists etc have all come from privileged backgrounds. This is no coincidence: one requires a reasonable private income (ie from rich parents) in order to be able to start a career in the arts. This naturally restricts the diversity of the arts world, and makes our artistic landscape much the poorer - many talented creatives are unable to even consider getting a career off the ground.

    Secondly, enjoyment of the arts is increasingly becoming available only to the privileged. Theatre tickets cost a fortune (even at festivals such as the Edinburgh Fringe!); concert tickets are extortionate; exhibitions are surprisingly costly and original artwork is prohibitively so. This is generally not a result of greed (at least, not in all cases!), but rather because our economy is tilted against artisan craftsmanship and personal creation. If you can only fit a small number of people in the theatre, you have to charge a lot for tickets simply to pay the salaries of all those needed to mount the play. It's a matter of great personal sadness to me, the arts thus being put out of the reach of so many: kids from poorer backgrounds have never been to the theatre or a live concert! This was the case even before the pandemic; it is especially so now, and is a situation that really does need to change. The arts are such an essential part of our culture (Apple, for instance, would never have existed without a whole plethora of artists inspiring Steve Jobs and the team in myriad different ways, as you will all be aware).

    The second issue demonstrates that the solution to the first issue cannot be to simply 'charge more for art' or 'make something people want to pay more for', as suggested by some people above.

    As I said at the top, I haven't considered the pros and cons of the 'Smart Fund' proposal, so I am certainly not attempting to express an opinion about whether it is a good or bad idea. I'm just pointing out that there is a problem with the arts in the UK, and a state-sponsored financial solution is probably the only way to solve said problem. Contrary to the general tone of the dismissive comments above, I don't believe the premise of this campaign is flawed.
    crowleymuthuk_vanalingamapplguyFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 13 of 39
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,739member
    (Before saying my piece I just want to make clear that I'm not attempting to either defend or criticise this proposal).

    As someone involved in the arts in the UK, I can confirm that there are two major issues in the current British arts landscape.

    The first issue is a general lack of funding: since 2000ish, the vast majority of our most successful actors, writers, comedians, musicians, artists etc have all come from privileged backgrounds. This is no coincidence: one requires a reasonable private income (ie from rich parents) in order to be able to start a career in the arts. This naturally restricts the diversity of the arts world, and makes our artistic landscape much the poorer - many talented creatives are unable to even consider getting a career off the ground.

    Secondly, enjoyment of the arts is increasingly becoming available only to the privileged. Theatre tickets cost a fortune (even at festivals such as the Edinburgh Fringe!); concert tickets are extortionate; exhibitions are surprisingly costly and original artwork is prohibitively so. This is generally not a result of greed (at least, not in all cases!), but rather because our economy is tilted against artisan craftsmanship and personal creation. If you can only fit a small number of people in the theatre, you have to charge a lot for tickets simply to pay the salaries of all those needed to mount the play. It's a matter of great personal sadness to me, the arts thus being put out of the reach of so many: kids from poorer backgrounds have never been to the theatre or a live concert! This was the case even before the pandemic; it is especially so now, and is a situation that really does need to change. The arts are such an essential part of our culture (Apple, for instance, would never have existed without a whole plethora of artists inspiring Steve Jobs and the team in myriad different ways, as you will all be aware).

    The second issue demonstrates that the solution to the first issue cannot be to simply 'charge more for art' or 'make something people want to pay more for', as suggested by some people above.

    As I said at the top, I haven't considered the pros and cons of the 'Smart Fund' proposal, so I am certainly not attempting to express an opinion about whether it is a good or bad idea. I'm just pointing out that there is a problem with the arts in the UK, and a state-sponsored financial solution is probably the only way to solve said problem. Contrary to the general tone of the dismissive comments above, I don't believe the premise of this campaign is flawed.
    Excellent post, thanks.
    thelemmingfaceapplguyFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 14 of 39
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,461member
    Vincent van Gogh was a starving artist who couldn’t afford his painting supplies. His brother Theo tried to help him out. Could we admit that he might have been a candidate for government support of his art? I liken support for the arts to Bell Labs where scientists and engineers were free to research whatever topic they desired without regard for the practical use or profit motive. 
  • Reply 15 of 39
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,817member
    A tax is a tax is a tax. Who really pays for more taxes on consumer goods? Consumers do. It doesn’t matter whether you’re slapping a tax on avocados, Apple computers, or imported jellybeans, the tax is always paid by the consumer. The sellers of products simply become the uncompensated tax collectors at best, or they need to hire additional staff and accountants to handle their tax collection and accounting functions. This increases their cost of doing business so they increase the cost of their products to pay for their additional costs, so again, consumers always end up paying more.

    Trying to disguise this as a tax on the “rich technology companies who are obviously swimming in money” is total bullshit. They are simply trying to get consumers to fund their personal causes for their own self interests. The fact that “iPhones and Macs” is thrown up as chaff doesn’t mean a damn thing. They could as easily have said “dog collars” or “teeth whitening strips” and their intentions would be exactly the same - they want your money and they want to use the government’s universal go-to money harvesting process to extract it from your wallet. 
    zeus423JWSClinkmanstompyBeatsmacplusplusentropys
  • Reply 16 of 39
    jmurgenjmurgen Posts: 15member
    I don’t like it when compared to me, wealthier people suggest I should pay more for an item as a tax to support their industry. The public already supports the arts via regular taxation in the form of grants etc. but because their is some oversight attached to that money they want more. Let’s forget about the fact that the tax forces me to pay for content indirectly that I have no interest in whatsoever. Many professions were impacted by the pandemic and governments around the world are spending huge sums of money in support that the tax payer is ultimately going to have to pay, but artists are special and want more. How about the industry that has created many many millionaires try to figure something out to support its industry that doesn’t involve their hand in my pocket?
    PezaBeats
  • Reply 17 of 39
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,511member
    dewme said:
    A tax is a tax is a tax. Who really pays for more taxes on consumer goods? Consumers do. It doesn’t matter whether you’re slapping a tax on avocados, Apple computers, or imported jellybeans, the tax is always paid by the consumer. The sellers of products simply become the uncompensated tax collectors at best, or they need to hire additional staff and accountants to handle their tax collection and accounting functions. This increases their cost of doing business so they increase the cost of their products to pay for their additional costs, so again, consumers always end up paying more.

    Trying to disguise this as a tax on the “rich technology companies who are obviously swimming in money” is total bullshit. They are simply trying to get consumers to fund their personal causes for their own self interests. The fact that “iPhones and Macs” is thrown up as chaff doesn’t mean a damn thing. They could as easily have said “dog collars” or “teeth whitening strips” and their intentions would be exactly the same - they want your money and they want to use the government’s universal go-to money harvesting process to extract it from your wallet. 
    Excellent post, thanks.
    Beats
  • Reply 18 of 39
    PezaPeza Posts: 195member
    As a UK born and bred person all I'll say to these 'celebrities' is two words and the second one is off..
    When people in our country have to use food banks, I think the last thing anyone wants is a tax on their phones to rub the egos of rich celebrities. 
    edited June 29 Beats
  • Reply 19 of 39
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,739member
    Peza said:
    As a UK born and bred person all I'll say to these 'celebrities' is two words and the second one is off..
    When people in our country have to use food banks, I think the last thing anyone wants is a tax on their phones to rub the egos of rich celebrities. 
    Funding the arts will mean fewer artists have to use food banks.
  • Reply 20 of 39
    zeus423zeus423 Posts: 122member
    Edit:  "Celebrity" backers include Olivia Colman, Imelda Staunton, Yinka Shonibare, Sir Frank Bowling, and Rachael Whiteread, among others.

    I added the quotation marks to fix this.
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