As we’re all now aware, due to the recent developments with the COVID-19 situation and as instructed by the Department of the Taoiseach, there have been some dramatic changes to how many of us will live our lives over the coming weeks and perhaps months. While these measures are necessary, it’s already having a crippling impact on those who are self-employed, particularly in the creative sector.
With events being cancelled, not only are promoters, venues and the artists performing out of pocket, the knock on effect on photographers, agents, sound and lighting crews, videographers, tour managers, designers and more looks set to be severe. The same can be said for many other cultural institutions like galleries and cinemas, not to mention restaurants, cafes, bars and stores around the country, and indeed the world.
There have been rallying calls from every corner of the Irish creative communities to support the independents you love.
While Revenue have announced measures to assist SMEs experiencing cashflow issues, we’ve outlined some more ways you can help below. Think about all the art and music you’re consuming while being at home in self-isolation and think of how scared those artists might be right now. Help if you can, it’s going to be a bumpy ride, but we’re all in this together.
To apply via Freepost, send your completed forms to PO BOX 12896 Dublin 1 (you can write “Freepost” on the envelope). We will then set you up on a 6 week payment of €203 pw.
Full info on the Pandemic Unemployment payment is here: https://t.co/T3vbC5JnEP#COVID19 #COVID19ireland pic.twitter.com/QEQzgSr4Bh
— welfare.ie (@welfare_ie) March 16, 2020
First one is simple, buy more art If you can afford it, now is the time to pick up that band t-shirt you’ve had bookmarked. If you’re listening to an artist on Spotify and you think to yourself, ‘What a banger…’, chances are it’s available to buy on Bandcamp. Grab that print you’ve been lusting over. Hell, commission an artist to paint a piece if your pockets are deep enough! Whatever way you do it, this is when these artists need you, the fan, the most. Shop locally First of all, make sure when you’re shopping for groceries don’t panic-buy. As much as it seems that way, it’s not the apocalypse, and if the shelves are bare after you leave with a six-month supply of toilet roll, someone who might be unable to get out as much as you might be left wanting. Also, when you do venture out, make a special effort to shop locally. Is someone special’s birthday coming up in two months? Be extra prepared and mosey on down to your local record store to pick up a new album for them. Or why not buy some vouchers for an upcoming celebration? You’ll be well ahead of yourself, but you’ll be also feeding a soon to be very hungry local economy.
Just a friendly reminder that we sell books over the phone and can post them directly to you. We’re happy to help with any recommendations if needed also. RTs appreciated.
— Hodges Figgis (@Hodges_Figgis) March 13, 2020
Just remember to be extra cautious when out and about. Wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing.
Sign up to Patreons and funding campaigns
There are dozens of podcasts, publications, musicians and artists who have amazing Patreon platforms where they offer members exclusive content. Most of the time it’s the cost of a cup of coffee a month, but it’s become a vital income stream for many.
Also, if you see a funding campaign, throw as much as you can their way. For example, Belfast rappers Kneecap have found themselves in a precarious situation stateside due to the pandemic. Check out their Paypal here: https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8nlHAQaLxS
Spread the word
Many independents are panicking about the future right now, so if you stumble upon a resource, tip or even a word of encouragement, pass it on. Don’t assume your artist friend or family member already knows. The below is mainly a US-based resource for helping freelance artists, but it includes law advice and some other very helpful tips.
Also, check out this thread by Dublin-based photographer Ruth Medjber about what you’re entitled to from the government if you’re a freelancer.
Here’s what I found out down the dole office today. See my feed for more info. pic.twitter.com/MIma6xtKYf
— Ruth Medjber (@ruthlessimagery) March 12, 2020
If you’re in a position to do so, be sound when it comes to demanding refunds. That gig might have cost you €15, but the independent venue, promoter and artist will be undoubtedly under a lot more financial pressure. Chances are you’ll get your refund, or even better, the gig will be rescheduled!
Same goes for businesses who work with freelancers. If at all possible, delay demanding any deposits you might have paid. It could mean the difference between paying rent or not.
When everything is back up and running make an extra effort
Eventually, this whole situation will be over, and with any luck these isolation measures will mean the human impact will have been greatly reduced. When things do get back to normal, make an extra effort to go to that gallery launch, to pack out that gig, even to go to the cinema.