An independent review demonstrating the severe impacts of the pandemic on the social and economic circumstances of visual artists reveals the divergent perspectives at national and local levels in England about what artists and the arts are for, and on how and where future arts policy should be made and implemented.
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.
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.