Many businesses, organizations and people are finding themselves in the position of canceling public events and gatherings due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. This is disappointing and scary for a lot of organizations and businesses who rely on in-person events to fulfill their mission and to generate income. It also has the potential to be extremely damaging to artists and other freelancers’ economic stability.
Many artists heavily rely on contract work to make a living, feed their families and to sustain themselves. We know that many artists do this work without strong contracts that protect them from cancellations or loss of income. We recognize that canceling or postponing events is a hardship for everyone involved and we encourage businesses and organizations to help mitigate the impact on artists, freelancers and contractors.
Together we can help sustain our vital creative community by taking the following actions, even if you are not contractually obligated:
1. If you can, postpone the event and keep the artist’s contract in place, even if you don’t yet have a date for the future event, the reassurance that you intend to reschedule and honor your commitment is important.
2. Consider transferring your event online. Can you reimagine the event as a video or web-based offering? Classes, workshops, and even fundraising events might be able to take place in a new way.
3. If you have paid an upfront fee or deposit to an artist, do not ask for the fee to be returned.
4. If the artist has invested time in planning, supplies or other preparation, compensate them fairly for this work.
5. If the artist has hired other artists to be a part of the event or project, talk with them about how you can work together to compensate these artists.
6. Discuss other opportunities with the artist, if the event or project must be cancelled are there other things you might be able to hire the artist to do? Webinars, graphics for your social media accounts, performances at a future fundraising event, writing case studies or conducting interviews to share your work, creating drawings for a publication. Invite artists to think creatively about how you might be able to work together in other ways.
Other ways you can support artists, creative businesses and freelancers:
1. If you have flexibility in your budget consider moving up the start date of projects that don’t take place in person. Can you contract with artists now that you might not have reached out to until later in the year?
2. Promote artists work online, encourage your supporters and followers to buy their work.
3. Buy gift cards from your favorite venues, artists, chefs, and restaurants — you can make sure the creative businesses that make our community strong can survive AND give yourself something to look forward to!
4. Write to your local and political representatives and encourage them to support measures to include artists and creative businesses in economic relief efforts.
Follow along with updated resources for artists, contractors, and arts organizations during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic here: https://springboardforthearts.org/coronavirus/
Read Springboard’s Coronavirus/COVID-19 response plan here: https://springboardforthearts.org/stories-writing/coronavirus-response/
Image: Artist Heidi Jeub’s Tiny School of Art & Design at the 2019 Rural Arts & Culture Summit in Grand Rapids, MN. Photo credit: Holly Diestler