A new qualitative, longitudinal study surprisingly demonstrates how the lives and artistic prospects of many visual artists improved in pandemic conditions and by doing so, provides clues to the infrastructural shifts needed to honour and sustain the talents and vibrancy of this diverse constituency in future.
In the pandemic, government and Arts Council England built a defensive hedge around the most visible aspects of the arts infrastructure. Staffers in institutions got time, space and money to address fragile business models and secure their futures. However, the emergency arts funding schemes for freelance artists failed to address their artistic, emotional and livelihood needs.
The exclusive and short-term emergency arts funding schemes from government and Arts Council England to freelance artists failed to address their livelihood needs, with the majority allowed to fall through the cracks. Early evidence from a longitudinal study surprisingly demonstrates that the lives and artistic prospects of many artists positively improved in pandemic conditions. This offers clues to the substantial shifts in arts infrastructures necessary to honour and sustain the talents and vibrancy of the diverse artists’ constituency in future.
Essay analysing flaws and impacts on artists of the UK’s extreme neo-liberal arts economy with suggestions for challenging and redressing the inequities caused.
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.
Delivering ‘human thriving’ in and through the arts, including fair pay for artists, in a pandemic world calls for substantial shifts in how arts policies are made and where they are realised.
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.