May 6, 2020

Artists in Lockdown

A Counterpoints Arts’ Online Survey*

We recently conducted an online survey in the wake of COVID-19, with the aim of gathering some first-hand stories from artists across the Counterpoints Arts’ network. We wanted to get a sense of what artists were experiencing and how they were coping and responding at this seismic time.

We received very detailed and rich replies – so thank you all. You have given us a vivid, layered portrait of an arts and culture ecosystem dramatically disrupted and in transition.

This infographic – created in collaboration with Sam Walter at Festoon Studios – paints a complex picture of personal and professional lives radically interrupted: of events, exhibitions and planned collaborations with partners and organisations postponed or cancelled and the cumulative consequences of a wholesale suspension of work.

Unsurprisingly many of the artists refer to the ongoing reality of precarity prior to Covid-19, predicting even more extreme levels of inequality and precarity post-COVID-19.

Yet, at the same time, many point to potential ways of working together in solidarity, hope and collaboration. Despite the pandemic and its aftermath, there is a sense of generosity and care for others, for audiences and the neighbourhoods and communities artists work alongside. Of seeing this moment as an opportunity for structural and policy change in relation to arts funding and to re-imagine and implement a more inclusive and fairer industry overall.

Having learned hugely from your immediate experiences, the Counterpoints’ Arts team will now put this knowledge into action.

We will continue to build partnerships and distribute financial and other levels of support to our networks through both current and new initiatives.

In the next few months, we plan to offer more formalised mentoring, project support and advice; and to deepen and build collaborations with artists and partners, in addition to increasing our digital capacity through a variety of new online commissions. The first of these commissions include Postcards in Isolation: A different form of exilea series of creative responses produced across weeks of physical isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Watch out for Counterpoints Arts’ project highlights to be launched next week.


*The online survey Artists in Lockdown forms part of a longer piece of research called ‘Tales of Precarity’ commissioned in the context of our Who Are We? programme Tate Exchange 2019, produced in collaboration with Tim Butcher (formerly at The Open University and currently at the University of Tasmania).