Exceptional circumstances often generate acts of generosity and community spirit. We are lucky that the art community is always very giving and supportive. Maybe its because most artists have at one time, or another felt the pain and heartache of barely making ends meet.
I remember living off tuna rice salad in those days of waiting for the grant cheque to come in before credit cards were every item in your wallet. Checking the emails in eager anticipation of our next booking, which meant we would survive when we started our chalet business. Fighting AXA to refund the cost of emergency surgery in France when our son broke his foot. And filling in page after page of a grant application to get help with the gallery renovation after a nasty case of cyber fraud depleted our life savings.
It seems help is at hand once again. Or at least that is the promise. The Arts Council have announced a £20 million pot of support for artists, creative practitioners and freelancers struggling to make ends meet in an already low-income profession. For those whose life is in art and never make a profit, £4 million of this big pot is available in grants of a benevolent nature. Great news for writers, freelance educators, designers, artists and craft makers.
Smaller but none the less worthy support is available a bit closer to home from within a more compassionate community. The Artist Support Pledge is a simple idea founded by those who don’t have much themselves but still want to help others. The founder of this latest movement, Matthew Burrows, is reopening a lifeline for some artists. With galleries shut and exhibitions postponed many are in limbo, ourselves included. The pledge aims to keep the sale of art going through this hiatus. Artists are offering their work, mostly at a lower than the average price (up to £200), to attract more buyers with the promise that when they reach a certain level of sales (£1,000), they will, in turn, buy a piece of work from another artist in the pledge scheme. With gallery commission out of the loop artists, can justify dropping their prices by 25-50%. Instagram, where it all started, has since had nearly 25,000 posts with the #artistsupportpledge label.
Local artists such as Andrew Barrowman (due to exhibit on October), Steven Buckler (expected to teach some workshops in June), Glyn Macey and our own Dave Pentin have all joined the pledge. And I am sure more will follow on as the pledge gains popularity.
So if you love art as much as we do and you have a bit of extra cash to help out some amazing artists you MUST take a look at the fantastic work on show which has been uploaded with the # artist support pledge on Instagram. I doubt if you will be able to come away without a purchase or two.