Text exploring the impacts of Covid-19 on artists’ livelihoods and the divergent perspectives on creating a healthier, more productive and inclusive arts ecology in future.
This submission was made in June 2020 to the DCMS Committee considering the impact of Covid-19 on any sectors under the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s remit. It contextualises artists’ livelihood frameworks and sectoral artistic and economic opportunity, highlighting key challenges and barriers faced by this particular sub-section of the creative industries. It evidences the distinctive limitations of short-term emergency measures from Government and the Arts Council to alleviate immediate Covid19 circumstances. Although arts policy marginalised support for artists’ livelihoods after the 2008 recession, the examples of artists’ individualised resilience strategies illustrate the scope and value of supportive interventions by policy relevant to forecasting new strategies for ameliorating the medium and longer-term effects of the pandemic on this vital, distinctive creative industries sub-section. The rationale for structural changes in implementation of arts policy and funding is to remove known barriers and better in future capture and amplify the assets that artists create for their own resilience and bring to social well-being over a life-cycle.
“We cannot be content to go back to what was before, as if all is normal… there needs to be a resurrection of our common life.” Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Easter sermon – opined from the Archbishop’s kitchen and disseminated via social media to some 18,000 people – provided the cue for a discussion on how to ensure artists’ survival in an arts and cultural environment poleaxed by Covid-19.
“This is a moment fraught with possibility.” Isabelle Tracy, Parallel State: State of the Nation podcast 27 March 2020
This text in the Covid19 portfolio is on the future of artists’ livelihoods. It starts by evidencing the impact of external trends on visual artists’ livelihoods. It then identifies some of the policy misassumptions and structural barriers that limit artists’ livelihood prospects before demonstrating that visual artists as a ‘special case’ within the arts workforce are deserving of individualised attention within arts policies. It concludes by outlining the core qualities for pursuit of livelihoods through art practices that enable many artists to contribute to society over a life-cycle as a point of reference for policy-making during the Covid19 emergency and into the uncertain decade ahead.