Covid-19 Crisis – Issues Facing Freelance Artists and Makers
The following list of issues has been compiled in response to recent meetings with government officials and the other cultural unions.
Artists and makers are part of a fragile and complex economic framework. Losing one element of the income and employment sources they rely on can have a domino effect. The measures to combat Covid-19 mean that many have seen all their income streams dry up – and there is great uncertainty about the future. Below is a summary of the challenges our members have reported to us.
- Members can’t afford the rent as income streams dry up.
- Accessing studios – many were given short or no notice to collect materials.
- Some fear losing their studios.
- Some landlords are demanding rent even though there is no access to buildings
- Home working is not always safe or practical (depending on practice).
Loss of income:
- Teaching, workshops, exhibitions, residencies, art and craft fairs cancelled.
- Galleries, museums, art colleges and universities closed.
- International projects cancelled or postponed.
Issues arising with new working practices as a result of lock-down:
- Being asked to provide content online with no, or very low, offers of payment.
- Being asked to deliver workshops online - which means investing in learning new technology unpaid.
Accessing support funds:
- Government support does not apply to all.
- Many, such as recent graduates, have been self-employed less than one year.
- Low profits - so 80% from the government scheme will not meet needs.
- Many plough their profits back into their business.
- Many don’t make over 50% of their income from self-employment
- Multiple income streams make applying for support complex.
- Many have partners so don’t qualify for Universal Credit.
- Universal Credit can affect Working Tax Credit.
- Artists have overheads but may not qualify for the business support as they don’t have rateable properties.
- Some rely on alternative income streams like Air B&B which have also stopped.
- Many members are dyslexic, making form filling and applications challenging.
Health and equality:
- Poor mental health due to uncertainty, isolation and worry over finances.
- Many are parents and have childcare or caring responsibilities.