Hey, I'm Amahra Spence, a proud Brummie and organiser. I've worked as an artist and in the creative industries for 12+ years and have been thinking a lot about what it really takes to sustain a creative career anywhere, but particularly outside of capital cities, where investment, opportunity and spaces are in abundance in comparison.
The creative and cultural industries are now valued at £111.7 billion, growing more than twice the rate of the economy. These same industries are reliant on the labour of freelancers, self-employed workers and artists, yet these are the same people who are at the frontline of precariousness. In times of crisis, change, cuts & pandemics, the foundation of our workforce that we "celebrate" annually for their contributions to economic growth are most vulnerable.
Many workers face economic uncertainty, while bills, childcare costs, rent and livelihoods demand so much. We are about to enter even more turbulence. Tie all of this with no statutory sick pay, cancellations, pending lockdown and an industry not centred on care, the potential for further harm is greater than ever. We are already seeing artists and freelancers unable to work due to the closing of theatres, events, civic spaces and public gatherings
This fund is inspired by Luke Barnes who established a mechanism to support Artists in Liverpool affected by Coronavirus and its various impacts. The idea is to provide £200 hardship funds for any artists, cultural workers, practitioners and creative freelancers that cannot work during this time or who have been affected by cancellations or other impacts.
These will be distributed on a first come first served basis. Send a private message to @maia_group on Instagram or Twitter, or email email@example.com to claim. If this fund speaks to you, we want to help. If you can give, please give generously. If we make more than what we're fundraising for, we'll be able to support more artists. If we get lots of generous donations, we'll go again, for as long as we can.
The West Midlands is a region with a particular focus on arts and culture. Coventry City of Culture 2021, Commonwealth Games 2022 and other significant events have placed much emphasis on the role of culture and investments needed for legacy. Lets not get totally caught up in the grand narratives, as COV19 has already reminded us that poverty, difficulty and unhealthy ways of working are putting people directly in harm's way. I think it's time we support the most vulnerable and, as a region, get real pragmatic with what we champion and who we enable.
Thank you all for your support and kindness. And thank you to Luke for inspiring this with tangible action.
Amahra, on behalf of the MAIA team x
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