Essex Artists Coronavirus Impact Fund

Hi my name's Warren Harper, I'm an Essex based curator and researcher. I've worked in the arts for several years and have lived in Essex most of my life. I realise how tough and uncertain these next few weeks/months are going to be for many freelance and self-employed artists, particularly those who might not necessarily have the safety net that some of their peers may do. I really believe it's important we help as much as we can and in any way we can. 

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 Amahra Spence, who established a fund for West Midlands artists -- -- which in turn was 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.

Send a private message to @theoldwaterworks on Instagram, @old_waterworks on Twitter, or email [email redacted] if you would like to claim, we are currently figuring our the fairest possible distribution method but please do get in touch. 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. If you are unable to give then please share far and wide! 

Essex has such a vibrant community of artists who are always willing to help one another and their community in times of need, now let's help them! COVID-19 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 Amahra Spence and by extension to Luke Barnes for inspiring this with tangible action.


(Image credit: Grrrl Zine Fair )


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Warren Harper 
Basildon, East of England, United Kingdom
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