Tuesday, 21 April 2020

The impact of Covid-19 on artists. Part 5: the long-term outlook and the growth in online offerings

Part 5: the long-term outlook and the growth in online offerings

In the final instalment of this five-part essay, comprising conversations with artists around the world, we look at the possible long-term effects of the Covid-19 crisis on the art world and the rise in online offerings

What will be the lasting impact of the coronavirus on the arts and artists? It is hard to predict anything right now, when no one knows how long various countries will be in lockdown, and what travel restrictions will remain in place afterwards. Certainly, there seem set to be some long-lasting changes to the ways that many things are done. Sarah Strang, an artist and the director of Civic Room in Glasgow, speaks of flexibility being key – for artists and funders. There may well be clashes as shows are rescheduled, artists who were booked to be present may no longer be available (or able to fund their presence): “I don’t think the freelance workforce will come out well from this,” she says. “It needs a political, top-down decision to support this workforce.” In addition, she says: “Any artist, gallery, or arts organisation is continually fundraising, so it’s hugely precarious. This will have a huge impact. Many galleries will close permanently. If a commercial gallery can take the hit knowing it will have a good Frieze, it might be OK, but Frieze is only a breath away. The art world runs on two things: the ability to travel rapidly and internationally and the hand-to-mouth nature of earnings and artists being able to work. As we saw with the 2007 financial crisis, people don’t rally afterwards, we don’t bounce back, we still haven’t. And this is financial and physical, nobody is resilient, and it’s a world collapse, not just one country that can be bailed out.” 

Read the rest of part five here

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