Covid-19 has given the art world an opportunity to reimagine its future ecology. Susan Jones considers what arts infrastructures could look like.
Pandemic conditions have shaken the foundations and functions of the arts infrastructure to the core, illustrating the baked-in flaws while exposing the polar perspectives on conditions for a healthy, productive arts ecology in future. There was little emergency funding or practical support for individual freelance artists, and an apparent failure to acknowledge their dire situation after being hit by a dual economic and emotional tsunami. Although ensuring equality in the workforce is a beacon principle for the funded arts, staffers in arts institutions were able to benefit from furlough, while compounding the precarity of freelance artists was somehow socially acceptable to funders and most arts funded institutions. As David Byrne of New Diorama Theatre pointed out in October 2020, ‘If the current arts system is to have any chance of getting through the challenges in the long term, the people at the helm of arts institutions have to get far better at sharing out the resources. They can’t keep saying “it’s that other thing over there that’s the solution” [and] absolving themselves of any responsibility for doing the hard thinking and decision-making’.
Reset and recovery tactics by government and Arts Council England prioritised the arts in terms of bricks and mortar, which had been painstakingly created over the last three decades through a combination of substantial National Lottery capital investment in the arts, and consolidated by regular funding to a hierarchy of permanent arts organisations... Keep reading on Corridor8.