January 30, 2022

In the UK, Is It Time to Recalibrate How We Treat the Creators That Have Kept Us Going Through a Pandemic?

Natalie Arle-Toyne | Stuart Fleming, 33

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SongRecalibrate, 2022

Our creative communities are often-times our philosophers, healers, sages. Our songs can awake people suffering from the depths of dementia; our sculptures stand for generations. We ask artists to reflect our inner and outer worlds. But do we truly value the creator as much as the creation?

During the pandemic, many creatives fell through the gaps. With part-time zero-hours contract jobs (to supplement low creative wages), they didn’t satisfy criteria for SEISS or furlough. Some hired lawyers who charged in 6-minute intervals – £350/hour – when contracts were canceled with no compensation. Mental health plummeted when football stadiums opened but theatres remained shut, when sponsor-a-theatre-seat saved buildings but discounted the freelancers inhabiting them.  Whilst society turned to entertainment for solace during isolation, fellow artists felt despondent at the lack of recognition of years of investment in their craft.

In France, Intermittence de Spectacles has existed since 1936. It considers the irregular nature of creative work. Those officially recognised as working artists receive regular unemployment support. Today there are 250000 beneficiaries.
In the UK, is it time to recalibrate how we treat the creators whose work got us through a pandemic? Is it time for UK creatives to recalibrate our boundaries?