As week two of lockdown passes, I wanted to let you know what I and the team at SCAN have been working on.
We’re continuing to hear from members all around the country about the impacts that Coronavirus is having on you, your organisation, your practice, your community and on the people you work with.
We’ve been encouraging those in the visual art sector to share their experiences via the Culture Counts sector survey, as a central place to gather impacts from across the culture sector. SCAN is a member of Culture Counts and we work closely with them on advocacy – ensuring the voice of contemporary visual arts is strong amongst the wider cultural mix.
That survey is already leading to results – on 1 April the Scottish Government announced it would increase the Scottish Welfare Fund, crisis grants available via local authorities, by £45m and would relax the criteria to allow more individuals to receive support.
We’ve been gathering your experiences directly, too. We’ve been focusing on two key issues this week; the financial situation of arts organisations, particularly those that depend on earned income, and the impact on self-employed artists and art workers. Evidence on both of these issues was fed to two rounds of UK Treasury Committee enquiries on Monday 23 March and Monday 30 March, as well as to weekly meetings with Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government.
On Thursday SCAN, along with the Scottish Artists Union and representatives from the music and theatre sectors, participated in a conference call with Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture Fiona Hyslop. We worked together to hammer home the drastic impact Coronavirus could have on the cultural infrastructure in Scotland, now and in the long-term. We will push for a quick response and keep the information flowing to the Cabinet Secretary and her team.
We’ve also put in place some new actions that we’ll build on. We held two members’ meetings via Zoom, one for organisations and one for individuals – it was so lovely to see so many faces – and we’ll follow up with additional meeting dates and times next week. We’ll be starting a new Facebook group for members next week too, to keep the conversation going and help members to share tips and advice.
We’ve arranged for SCAN members who run organisations to access free legal advice around employment, including the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme and furloughing. And we’re directing members to free online surgeries being run by funding expert Phyllis Martin to help navigate the current funding landscape.
And just as a reminder, if your membership of SCAN is due for renewal in the six months from March, we won’t charge you. It’s important that we stay together during this time, so thank you to everyone who has been in touch. I’ll share more updates next week.