My name is Sam McKay, I am a community artist, theatre maker, and researcher in Leeds. I have taken inspiration from Luke Barnes, Amahra Spence, Jay Crutchley, and others, who have set up similar funds in Liverpool and Birmingham respectively, to support the creative freelance communities in their areas. The following words are Amahra's who articulates things in a way that makes sense to echo here.
"The creative and cultural industries are now valued at £111.7 billion, growing a 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
"The idea is to provide 10 x £200 hardship funds for any artists, 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. Details of how out soon. 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. The first couple will be available by the end of the month. If we get lots of generous donations, we'll go again, for as long as we can."
Solidarity in these trying times,
Dr S McKay
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