With the onset of Covid-19, artists and creative enterprises have come under significant pressure. Siobhán Mulcahy, County Arts Officer with Clare County Council, says that while some of the challenges faced are common to other sectors, some are unique to the arts.
“Like many other sectors, the arts faced an immediate shutdown. Unlike many other sectors, artists tend to work in the ‘gig economy’, earning an income project by project, performance by performance and per sale of work. Arts Council research published this week indicates that only around 50% of artists have been successful in receiving Covid-19 payments. Many artists are low-income earners anyway, so they face the same financial pressures that others share, but it is widely acknowledged that, in terms of recovery, the arts will be one of the sectors that struggles the most, with venues and galleries likely to be challenged to find workable solutions to social distancing.”
Strong themes of artists struggling with their own wellbeing are emerging, Siobhán says.
“Much of this is due to the pressure that artists feel they are under to provide creative and artistic solutions to the community at large, to be a sticking plaster for all that is going on. Many find that level of expectation overwhelming and feel despondent that people expect their responses to be freely provided, when these responses are how they make a living normally. Having said all that, the generosity of spirit from the artistic community has been overwhelming in terms of sharing and exploring creative responses to the crisis, but this is not always acknowledged or publicised.”
Siobhán says that online supports have been of huge assistance: “Video calling and meetings apps have proven invaluable, as have platforms such as the Facebook groups Clare Trad and Arts in Clare.”
Clare Arts Office has announced a unique online programme, developed for the Clare creative community, to assist people to rise to the online challenges brought about by Covid-19. The programme is aimed at people engaged in creative activities that they would like to promote online or to create online.
“Working through Zoom, artists of all abilities will be catered for on this course. This course will enable visual artists, dancers, writers, musicians and anyone involved in the arts to gain confidence in using technology and online services,” Siobhán said.
This new seven-week programme, in association with the Local Enterprise Office Clare, is being facilitated by visual artist and folklorist, Michael Fortune. Michael is a visiting lecturer at Limerick School of Art and Design. Starting on 19th May, Michael will guide artists through a series of tutorials to assist them to get the most out of their phones, PCs and laptops.
“We are delighted to support this initiative as it offers practical guidance and technical skills to a cohort of creative enterprises in the county that have been significantly affected by Covid-19,” said Padraic McElwee, Local Enterprise Office Clare.
Workshops are free to those living in County Clare. To register, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Closing date for registration is Friday, 15th May, 5pm.
For advice and tips on how you can look after your mental wellbeing, stay active and stay connected, visit www.clarecoco.ie/together