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Artists’ pan­dem­ic stories

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.

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Artists’ liveli­hoods in freefall

Gov­ern­ment and Arts Coun­cil Eng­land were praised in the Covid19 emer­gency for fast imple­men­ta­tion of ad hoc strate­gies for finan­cial sup­port for arts and cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions and job reten­tion schemes for salaried staff. Despite the equal­i­ty and diver­si­ty rhetorics of the fund­ed arts, analy­sis of respons­es to the DCMS Inquiry into the Impact of Covid-19 reveal that indi­vid­ual free­lance visu­al artists will suf­fer worst unless addi­tion­al reme­di­al actions are taken.

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