Supporting artists during a pandemic

Nurturing Talent artist

2020 has been an exceptionally difficult year for professional artists. Across the board, the UK’s cultural sector has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. At Create we’re supporting artists during the pandemic. 

Culture brings us together, whether that’s listening to a classical concert, wandering around a packed gallery or dancing the night away at a gig. But the pandemic has forced many cultural institutions to close and remain closed. Those that have been able to open have had to cope with dramatically reduced capacity and uncertain last-minute lockdowns.

For those of us whose lives are enhanced and expanded by the arts, this has been a profound loss. For many artists it has been a disaster, stripping them of their livelihoods, their entire income, their vocation and their wellbeing. Some have been able to diversify and take their practices online, but this has not been an option for every artform.  

Thanks to the pandemic, the cultural industry, which contributes £11bn a year to the economy and supports 363,700 jobs*, has suffered potentially irreparable damage.

How Create supports artists

An online creative workshop. Supporting artists during a pandemic

At Create, we’ve always platformed and supported artists. We value the importance of the creative arts in our collective lives and are passionate about their transformative and long-lasting impact.

All our artists are freelance professional practitioners in their specialist field (eg: dance, filmmaking; music, sculpture), who combine a passion for their artform with a love of people. Through our carefully-tailored programmes, our artists are able to expand their own artistic horizons, exploring new ideas and developing ambitious projects that benefit both our participants and their own artistic practice.

When the first lockdown was announced and we could no longer meet in person, we knew that our work couldn’t stop – it had never been more vital – which is why we adapted at break-neck speed. For our participants and professional artists, Create’s workshops offer a lifeline.

Here are some of the ways that we have supported our artists:

Create Live! 

Arts Council England

Having worked with our artists to research, safeguard and pilot a new way of working via Zoom, we used emergency funding from Arts Council England to develop and deliver a series of programmes that offered creative work for our artists and workshops for our participants struggling with lockdown across the UK.

This summer – via Create Live! – we delivered more workshops than ever before, meaning more work for our artists and more inspirational projects that have empowered, upskilled and connected our participants, reducing isolation and enhancing wellbeing.

Here, our professional photographer, Alejandra Carles-Tolra, talks about delivering a project with Kingston Young Carers via Create Live!.

Nurturing Talent

Create artist Holly Khan dances with a participant

Nurturing Talent, our programme for emerging artists, offers an opportunity for early-career artists who wish to combine a professional artistic practice with creative workshop delivery in community settings.

We provide a £1,500 bursary and opportunities to develop their facilitation skills alongside our experienced professional artists with different community groups. The programme involves four tailored training days, two artist sharing days, and the opportunity to design and deliver a workshop collaboratively.

Launched in 2016, this programme has still been running during the pandemic, empowering and upskilling six passionate and talented artists across dance, drama, filmmaking, music, and visual art. We’ve just opened up for a fresh round of applications for 2021/22. Find out more. 

“I have learnt from such a vast pool of artists with diverse backgrounds and delivery styles, as well as meeting a huge number of participants. I will leave this year a more technical musician, a more experienced facilitator and, most importantly, with an absolute dedication to helping the vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society.” Holly Khan

Artist sharing / training days

Artists sharing. Supporting artists during a pandemic

When lockdown first happened, we provided free training in Zoom workshop delivery to upskill our artists to this new way of working. Each has then had the chance to trial a workshop with the Create team ahead of going “live” in the community.

We also provide our artists and project team with free six-monthly skill-building, training and networking opportunities at Artist Sharing events that take place annually in May and November. With external speakers and artist-led workshops, the days focus on topics such as working in prisons and safeguarding, helping to upskill, inform and inspire. The most recent workshop in 2020 focused on Wellbeing, both that of our participants and the artists themselves.

“I have never worked in a prison and I feel like I got a really strong sense of what is involved, which made me feel like it is much more of a possibility for me, should the opportunity arise.”  Create artist

“It’s nice to have a relationship with an organisation. I started off on Nurturing Talent, learning from the lead facilitators. Now, I can look back at my initial learning at Create and see my growth and development to lead facilitator within the organisation.” Create artist Jack Pryor

Our commitment to artists

2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for artists but it seems that there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel, with a vaccine on the horizon. There is now hope that the industry can recover, and artists can continue doing what they love. In the meantime, and into the future, we will continue to support our artists through our projects – both Create Live! and in-venue – and ongoing training, and to reach out to a new generation of creatives through our Nurturing Talent programme.

*Centre for Economics and Business Research 2019