Advice and updates for the creative community during this time of crisis
We have begun collating helpful information, support networks and creative initiatives to get involved with as a community. Updated daily, so please check back in.
- It's Nice That
- 31 March 2020
- Reading Time
- 23 minute read
To aid, support and comfort the creative community during this time, we have begun collating the updates, initiatives and guidance individuals and studios are offering around the globe.
While creativity isn’t the cure for the current crisis we find ourselves in, there are several ways we can come together as a community in support of one another. In this article we hope to point you in the right direction of helpful information, a similar network to you, or just a project to keep your hands busy and maybe make you laugh.
Specific financial information for creatives in the UK can also be found in a separate section below. We’ll be monitoring the news and updating this article weekly as and when guidance is offered.
Updates and initiatives to get involved with
(1 May 2020)
Talent Fund for graphic designers, architects, product and fashion designers
The International Design Awards (IDA) and European Product Design Awards (ePDA) are introducing four grant opportunities for creatives, worth over £11,000 ($14,000).
Split into four categories, the IDA will award a grant for product design inviting designers to create either ventilators or other life-saving equipment specifically produced at a cost of less than $1,000. A second grant is aimed at those with an architecture and interior design background, asking for initiatives around “an innovative solution for an in-home isolation pod that would allow those with Covid-19 symptoms and others to safely co-habit.” Further grants are for graphic designers and illustrators “invited to submit their designs for a resource to help the public protect themselves,” and for fashion designers to create a reusable mask or other protective gear.
You can submit your idea for a project, and read further information, below. The deadline is 15 May 2020.
Take a look through the eyes of New Yorkers
The New Yorker recently sent out a group of photographers to document 24 hours “at the epicentre of the pandemic.” Taken at different times of day and night, with time stamps and short descriptions, it’s a fascinating look at a similar situation to ours in London, even though far away.
A new way to experience literature
One of our favourite studios, Visual Editions, has launched a new project made with Google’s Creative Lab, Stories of Splendid Isolation. Offering “moments of literary respite in the wake of Covid-19,” the project uses Google assistant to share writers’ thoughts and reflections “during a time of uncertainty and connected experiences – like a literary version of Thought for the Day.”
Hear from the likes of Will Self, Craig Taylor and Amelia Abraham by opening Google Assistant and simply saying: “Hey Google, talk of Stories of Splendid Isolation.”
Elsewhere on It’s Nice That this week, we launched a survey asking Graduates what advice they need during this time, illustrators such as Lennard Kok and Timo Kuilder have created Zoom backgrounds, a new global campaign has launched looking for illustrative examples of community, a new range of downloadable posters from the likes of Pentagram and Koto have been released, and creative heavyweights such as Jeremy Deller and PJ Harvey have urged the UK government to offer creatives more support.
(24 April 2020)
A design charity auction to attend this weekend
Design Calendar has organised an online design auction (taking place tomorrow) to raise money in support of those most vulnerable to coronavirus. Taking place at 7pm UK time on 25 September, artwork has been submitted on a global scale with countless works to choose from. All money raised from the tickets and auction bids made will go to the British Red Cross.
Pick up a photographic print in support of UK food banks
Taking place on 27 April (Monday) is another charity auction, Photographs for The Trussell Trust. Inspired by Italian 100 Fotografiska per Bergamo and Pictures for Elmhurst, creatives Simon Rogers, Bianca Raggi and Alexandra Lesse have organised a photographic print sale.
From Monday a long list of photographer’s work (we’ve seen the list, it’s amazing) will be available, with each eight by 11 inch print for sale at the set price of £100. 100% of the profits raised will go to Trussell Trust which provides support to two thirds of the food banks in the UK – which has seen “a 300% increase in usage since this time last year,” explains the trio.
Join in the sale on Monday below!
Carl Godfrey designed an amazing NH-YES badge a few years back which we adored then and even more so now. Carl has just ordered another batch of badges (they’ve already sold 1000) and 100% of the proceeds go to NHS Charities.
Support some of your favourite publishers in this online book fair
Taking place this weekend is Virtual Assembly, an online showcase of publications to replace some of our favourite book fairs usually happening at this time of year. “The rapid onset of Covid-19 this year has resulted in the cancellation of the art book community’s major fairs. The loss of these experiences represents a tremendous blow to our shared international culture,” explains its founders.
In turn creating a space where publications can be shown and sold, this weekend a “dynamic and expansive” program of publishers will take centre stage. Register as an attendee below!
(17 April 2020)
Know your options with ANNA
Business banking service ANNA (it stands for Absolutely No Nonsense Admin) has created a number of free online guides, developed from the queries and questions submitted by its customers, largely freelancers or small business owners.
These guides are also in partnership with Funding Xchange who help “anyone who is registered as self-employed, sole trader or running a SME navigate through the new government back Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and other options for financial support.”
Find a way to finance your passion project
Creative platform Booooooom has announced an open call for passion projects. Funded by 20% of all print sales in the month of April 2020, as well 50% of funds from its membership scheme, the platform will be attempting to put funding towards as many passionate projects as possible.
To enter, all you have to do is submit your idea to Booooooom by answering, “If we gave you $500 to put towards a creative project, what would you do with your money?” and further details can be found below.
Gain a commission across writing, film or visual art
The Bagri Foundation has launched an open call for Asian creatives for a series of £1000 online commissions. Within a project titled At Home in the World, the call is split into five categories – visual art, film, sound, lectures and courses and written word – inviting “Asian artists, writers, musicians, curators, filmmakers, researchers and academics to submit proposals to be one of five new public commissions that will be presented across the Foundation’s digital platforms.”
Artist relief for those impacted in New York
A coalition of art grant makers in New York has formed to create Artist Relief, providing “rapid, unrestricted $5,000 relief grants to assist artists facing dire financial emergencies due to the impact of Covid-19.” The fund has launched with $10 million and organisers “will continue to fundraise beyond the launch of the grant program to assist with the rapidly escalating needs of the country’s artists.” Details of how to apply can be found below.
Looking for a course to join?
Our sister site, Lecture In Progress, have put together a list of online courses to get stuck into, if you feel like it of course. Either free or affordable, the courses listed range from wellbeing at Yale to a free course in coding from SuperHi.
Other Covid-19 related updates on It's Nice That this week have included details of a new isolation project from Parsons, the heroes at Studio Ghibli have offered us some unlikely Zoom backgrounds, Monotype are offering type advice for free and studios such as Made Thought, DesignStudio and Accept and Proceed will be offering free advice to businesses to help navigate this difficult time.
(7 April 2020)
A helpful list of resources for women in the arts
The Women in the Arts and Media Coalition has put together a list of growing resources for funding across the globe.
Divided into area, and then industry, the long list covers a wide range of topics, whether it be equipment needs, geographic opportunities, grants and supportive organisations or even literature. You can check out the full list on its website, and get in contact with additions too.
Keep up to date with in-home events on the Design Calendar
Usually a hub for the “best creative talks, workshops, conferences and exhibitions around the world,” Design Calendar has shifted its coverage to online events.
Featuring both creative classes, one-day long programmes and shorter talks by creatives, you can sign up to its newsletter for weekly event curation too.
Understand more about Covid-19 with Apple Screening
If knowing little about the virus is adding to general anxiety and stress in your daily life, have a look at Apple’s Covid-19 Screening Tool.
Featuring an “up-to-date rundown of the virus and its symptoms” as well as helpful information on social distancing and isolating, the tool also features current guidance on testing. Following a multiple-choice questionnaire, it will then point you in the direction of helpful information, if necessary. The tool has been developed by Apple, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The White House.
Take advantage of this time to make a new portfolio
Creatively-focused website building platform Portfoliobox is giving away 10,000 free one-year subscriptions for professions which “require an alternate means to communicate and sell their work”.
Explaining its decision to do so, the platform elaborates that: “As an online portfolio platform provider, Portfoliobox’s team are in constant contact with creatives. Whether it’s photographers, designers, musicians, or others reliant on freelance work, the financial burden inflicted through job losses is a serious concern.” When applying for a subscription simply enter the discount code “staysafe” and gain access to its tools and private online galleries too.
Head outside (virtually) for meditation with The New York Times
The New York Times has put together a helpful guide to “ecotherapeutic meditation” in just ten steps.
Featuring video and audio recordings from Jessica Lehrmann and Phillip T. Annand, the interactive site (designed by Tracy Ma) is a great example of how digital tools can be utilised to evoke a sense of calm during this stressful time. “It’s OK not to feel OK,” reads the instructional site. “Create space for anxiety and worry to arise and dissolve against the resolve or your innate peace and wakefulness. We’ll get through this.”
Elsewhere on It's Nice That we take a look at how a new advert for Women's Aid was made entirely, under lockdown, following on from the United Nation's open brief to designers a group of designers are offering their services for feedback, Kickstarter has started a new campaign for voices under lockdown and Antony Gormley, Jeremy Deller (and more!) have set creative briefs to keep us busy.
(31 March 2020)
Learn how to dance with Sadler's Wells
London-based theatre Sadler’s Wells has announced it will present a series of performances online for audiences to enjoy. Digital Stage is its free online performance platform and will feature the digital premieres of “full-length dance performances, screendance – choreography designed for film – and new dance workshops which have specially created for families with young children, and the over 60s, to take part in at home.
Sadler’s Wells artistic director and chief executive, Alistair Spalding, adds: “Sadler’s Wells has been a platform for artists for more than 300 years and we are determined to continue to bring works made specifically for film and dance workshops you can take part in from home.”
£20 million funding available from The Arts Council
The Arts Council England, funded by The National Lottery, is making £20 million available to those working within the creative sector.
According to the council, “Artists and creative practitioners will be able to apply for grants of up to £2,500 if they have a track record in publicly funded culture”. £4 million of this fund will also be budgeted “for grants to benevolent funds targeted at other cultural workers.”
In terms of eligibility for the fund creatives must work within, music, theatre, dance, visual arts, literature, combined arts or a museum practice. Applications open today (31 March 2020).
A new way to support photographers
Within the creative community those whose work needs them to be in physical spaces, such as photographers, are being hit hard by the affects of Covid-19. To support these practitioners a new platform, Lifeboat, has been set up, offering archival prints and limited edition books to purchase.
The project is set up selflessly by photographer Jake Naughton, who wanted “to create a resource to help out other artists get through this difficult time.”
In need of some positive news?
Updated daily, the site hopes to “shine a light on good news, as an alternative the daily onslaught of negativity appearing in this global time of crisis,” says the studio, with founder Oli Garnett explaining: “Its purpose lies in mental health and anxiety ease, especially prominent in the creative community, mostly due to the nature of how our heads work.”
Head to the website for your daily dose of positive news.
Elsewhere on It's Nice That you can read more about a new show by Grayson Perry under lockdown, a new collective of artists are adorning toilet paper with their artworks and the UN has set an open brief to designers.
(26 March 2020)
Today the Chancellor announced the government's financial support plans for those who are self-employed. More information on which can be found at the bottom of this article.
(25 March 2020)
An illustrated guide to the current situation in the US
New York-based artist Danny Cole has put together an online illustrative pamphlet detailing information about Covid-19, titled Why Are We Inside? Gathering his facts from Imperial College Epidemic Modelling Simulation, it features information that provides a little clarity on the current crisis situation, largely around the question of: “What happens if the US does nothing?”
Engage in a new learning opportunity
The Brixton Finishing School, a ten week-long digital creative accelerator programme for underrepresented young people working in advertising and media, has launched a virtual course for those in isolation.
Classes will begin on 29 June 2020 and students will be selected via “online taster sessions”. You can register your interest below.
Join in on an online film festival – with discussion too!
Launched last week as countries across the world were told to social distance, and now completely stay at home, Viral Film Festival is a chance to watch and discuss films online. Scheduled for every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night (peak cinema viewing time we think) its organisers announce the evening’s scheduled film, tell you where to view it and at what time. Afterwards, you can join VFF’s organisers over Instagram Live to discuss the classic.
Having already shown Thelma & Louise, Rosemary’s Baby, Now, Voyager and Three Colours: Red last weekend, upcoming from tomorrow is Erin Brockovich, Network and North by Northwest.
Check out and (purchase works from!) an online art show
We’ve longed to visit Good Mother Gallery based in LA and now we can via its new digital show, Be Yourself With Everyone. Showcasing a few artists every day via its Instagram channel, the creatives featured span different disciplines and locations too. Each of the artworks is for sale, supporting both the artists and Good Mother Gallery, which has also set up a Go Fund Me page following its closure. Today’s artists includes Ones to Watch from 2019 and current illustrator of the It's Nice That Weekly Comic, Haein Kim.
(24 March 2020)
Sign a petition for an emergency fund to support freelancer’s income loss
The Creative Industries Federation, along with the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), have begun a petition for a Temporary Income Protection Fund to aid freelancers during the coronavirus crisis. “Freelancers will not just lose income while they are ill or self-isolating: many are also losing work and contracts over the coming months,” reads the petition. “The Budget measures give some support, but not enough.”
It’s very close to reaching its target and you can sign below.
Have a film recommended by the knowledgeable team at Little White Lies
As we spend more and more time at home, it understandably becomes increasingly difficult to know what to watch. Thankfully, the reputable team at Little White Lies is offering a recommendation email service for films. Simply e-mail the team, describe what you’re in the mood for and a member of its editorial team will get back to you with a recommendation!
Opportunities for graduating photography students
Photography agency Wyatt Clarke + Jones is offering free virtual portfolio reviews to third year photography students. Send over your portfolio (as a PDF) to email@example.com with “third year photography student” in the subject line. “We know many of you have had your degree shows cancelled or postponed, so we are looking to help you!” says the agency.
Sign yourself up for Hato Press’ Zine Subscription service
Hato Press has launched its own Zine Series, an annual zine subscription package. Available to buy as a one-off or as a six or 12-month subscription, a new release will be added every month.
Already available is FaceTime Love by Kentaro Okawara – Hato’s first project with the artist. This is followed by You Say Volvo I Say Potato by Michael Marriott and Exquisite Plants by artistic duo Chiaozza. It’s both a great way to support the independent publisher and nab yourself one of these limited runs (of 100).
(23 March 2020)
Digital Culture Network are offering digital tips for businesses
If you or your business are finding it difficult to shift to working from home and fully digitally, it may be worth getting in contact with The Arts Council England’s Digital Culture Network. Set up to develop organisations’ digital skills within the arts and culture sector, in light of the current situation it is offering help with working and collaborating remotely through to maximising website offers. Soon to come are also free resources and webinars.
Advice specifically for freelancers concerned about money
Writer Roberta Hollis has set up a Covid-19 freelance support newsletter, which you can subscribe to here. Roberta has also been sharing helpful advice for freelancers in her position over Instagram, including “Five things UK freelancers can do if you’re worried about money”.
Sell your work and support other artists at the same time
Artist Matthew Burrows has set up Artist Support Pledge to combat the drop in exhibition sales for creatives. “The concept is a simple one,” says Matthew. “Artists post images of their work, on Instagram, which they are willing to sell for no more than £200 each.” Then, when an artist reaches the sum of £1,000 in sales, they pledge to buy another artist’s work for £200.
If you’re an artist and interested in selling your works just make a pledge and post your work with #artistsupportpledge. Found via illustrator Oscar Mitchell, who is currently selling his Farmfoods collections – amazing.
50 jobs for 50 freelancers
Festival The Good Life Experience has set up an initiative titled The 50 / 50 Project. Over the next 50 days they will commission 50 paid jobs for 50 freelance creatives. Head to the festival’s for further information.
Support for art galleries, artists and art workers in New York
New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) have started a petition to New York mayor Bill de Blasio asking for further support to New York-based galleries, artists and art workers. You can read more about how it is difficult for these businesses to qualify for the small business initiatives set up by the mayor, and support the petition below.
Start an art class led by Jon Burgerman
Everyone’s favourite doodler, Jon Burgerman, has set up his own “stay-at-home online arts club thing”, It’s Great To Create. Hosted on his YouTube chanJon is setting creative tasks every few days, which you can join in with. Subtitles also include English, Korean, Spanish and Italian.
Head to a gallery, via Google
Google Arts and Culture has opened up its online art collections, allowing you to explore digitally a range of museums, from MoMA to The Met, the Tate Britain, Milan’s Museo del Novescento and Whitney Museum of American Art, to name only a few. While we may not be able to travel physically to these cultural hubs for the time being, you can navigate these spaces via a map of the world and discover new artists and cultural highlights from Colombia to Canada, Portugal, Nigeria, South Korea and more.
Income support update for self-employed
(26 March 2020)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has announced the UK Government’s plans to financially support those who are self-employed and “adversely affected by the coronavirus”.
Following the announcement of plans for those in full-time employment last Friday, there has been little information of support for the self-employed community, who make up a large swathe of the creative industry – and keep it ticking.
However, today, the Chancellor announced the self-employed income support scheme which will pay those eligible “a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of their average income over the last three years”. This will be up to £2,500 a month – the same amount for those in full-time employment – for at least three months, and for those with average profits of £50,000 or less.
According to a Twitter thread by HM Treasury, those who are self-employed and are eligible will be able to directly apply to HMRC for the grant. In reports made by The Guardian during Sunak’s announcement, the scheme “will be open to people who make the majority of their income from self-employment”, also pointing out how, “to avoid fraud, it will only be open to people who are already self-employed and have a tax return from 2019.”
However, some questions remain about how quickly self-employed people will be able to access these grants. According to Gov.uk, grants “will be paid in a single lump sum instalment covering all three months, and will start to be paid at the beginning of June” – raising questions around how people are supposed to support themselves until then.
In addition to these plans laid out for those who work for themselves, the government announced it has also adapted the welfare system so that self-employed people can fully access Universal Credit, as well as making new opportunities to access business interruption loans. Sunak described this income support scheme – for people who are self-employed, either freelance or running a small business – as being “equivalent to the support available to the employed”.
Financial information and guidance for creatives in the UK
Further practical advice for creatives, whether you’re a small business or self-employed, can be found here. Below are some key initiatives which may be useful in more detail.
Freelancers make up a large and vital part of the creative community but have little protection during this uncertain time for employment. If you are a freelancer and are struggling to find work currently, applying for Universal Credit may be an option during this time – the same applies if you have recently become unemployed.
You may be eligible if you’re on a low income currently or out of work, live in the UK, are 18 or over and have £16,000 or less in your savings. Currently, the government’s economic plan does not extend to those who are self-employed, and while Universal Credit may not be enough income for your expenses, it is still worth applying for.
If you are concerned about upcoming or expected tax payments, HMRC has set up a phone helpline specifically for self-employed people and small businesses with 2,000 callers on hand to offer advice. The government will be deferring VAT payments for the next three months and if you’re self-employed, any self-assessments expected in July of this year are deferred to January 2021.
Support for Businesses and Employees
On Friday 20, the chancellor outlined the government’s support for businesses disrupted by Covid-19. This includes a coronavirus job retention scheme, the deferring of VAT and income tax payments, and a small business grant funding of £10,000, to name just a few. All UK businesses are eligible for the job retention scheme to pay “those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during the crisis”.
We know that many members of the creative community supplement their creative income with jobs in hospitality, largely in businesses which will now be closed due to government restrictions. If you are an employee you will need your business to access the scheme, rather than as an individual, but it is worth checking to see if you could receive 80 per cent of your wages while on furlough.