The Hand That Feeds Us?

From time to time the thorny subject of arts funding rears its head and none more vital than right now. The Scottish government has just announced a new fund of £10 million to support cultural venues, plus a further £97 million to come from the UK government via the Barnett formula.

I wrote to my local MSP to find out more with the following question –

“I am particularly concerned that much needed financial assistance gets through to creators and performers as it is often these people, upon whom, the whole arts ‘industry’ relies that are left out of the loop. To date we have seen opportunities for one off handouts but if this sector doesn’t open up until 2nd quarter 2021 many freelance artists will find themselves in dire straits before 2020 is out.

How might these moneys be divided and distributed?”

He was quick to reply as below:

“I have now had an exchange with Fiona Hyslop who pointed me to the bottom line in this press statement it covers freelancers and others. I suspect the £97 million will be allocated on the same basis but Fiona did warn that the £97 million will have to stretch a long way” – Willie Rennie MSP

The pertinent section of the Scottish Government press release is as follows:

The Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund is for regularly funded organisations and non-RFOs and aims to:

  • remove the threat of insolvency prior to the end of March 2021
  • allow for specialist / core staff to return from furlough or avoid redundancy to work on future sustainability plans
  • increase the opportunities for commissioning and employment of freelance artists and creative practitioners

On the face of it, this emergency fund will go to venues and organisations many of whom will already be in receipt of regular funding but how much will actually reach the arts creators themselves?  Those that will be disseminating these monies need to be held to account, asking them to consider ways other than the trickle down method which essentially reinforces the hierarchical apparatus of the arts and potentially provides security for administrators and box office staff etc, who will already have benefitted from furlough, but is unlikely to reach the thousands of artists and musicians etc who actually create the art this ‘industry’ relies upon.

We now know that this sector will be one of the last to open up. Many of those freelance performers who have already fallen through the cracks in government COVID support, will have received nothing from this scheme and now face several more months of acute financial difficulty.

We should absolutely celebrate the support that is being offered to help venues and organisations survive. But the argument that it will also help freelance artists by allowing venues and organisations to commission work from a handful of freelance individuals is poor solace for the many who will not feel the benefit.


Artists are not special. We are workers too, and our freelance status is not hugely different from the plumbers, dog groomers, and hairdressers etc that are currently in the process of returning to work. Many of those professions have also missed out on the COVID assistance too due to similar issues. Some fall foul of 50% rule on freelance work or structure their tax (still paying 20%) through limited companies. Those working on short term PAYE contracts in the film or theatre world are also largely ineligible for support. Loans and mortgage holidays have been potential routes for alleviating the difficulties but these ‘holidays’ essentially store up debt and accrue interest to be paid later.

The difference between artists and other professions is that performers in particular may not return to work until the 2nd quarter of 2021 but this could all change such is the fluidity of the situation. Either way, it’s a pressing and stressful time when your mortgage holiday runs out in September 2020.

Top down arts funding does not really work for any but a fraction of the few artists who are lucky to fit into the system and are looked upon favourably by the companies with the funding. This seems to simply reinforce the hierarchical apparatus of the arts ‘industry’. For instance, how does this process help, for instance, an Indi band? There are many other examples. The trickle-down method will not work for the majority of artists. As a primary creator, it might well be good for me (if I’m one of the lucky ones commissioned) however there is a vast majority of freelance artists who will receive nothing in the foreseeable future. Then there are the micro commissions. What is a micro commission? Well its somewhere between £200 and £1000 for a piece of work that allows the companies and venues to tick a box but absolutely does not feed the kids!

Art is so much a part of our everyday world that we tend to take it for granted. Yes! Somebody actually designed that kettle you’re boiling to make the tea! Think of the creators and performers next time you stream a playlist for your car journey or watch a Netflix film. How much of the tiny amount that you spend on these services do you think gets through to them? Precious little is the answer, and the top down system of public arts funding that we ‘enjoy’ is not so different. I don’t grudge the army of administrators etc an income but perhaps there is a better way? There needs to be a clearer route to individual support, within this emergency scheme, rather than simply pumping further support into bricks and mortar which house already bloated arts organisations as they come off of their generous furlough. Freelance artists need support now!

How can we better reach individuals? What do you think would be an equitable way to support individual artists?

Macron in France has recently called for a twelve month extension to France’s special unemployment benefit for actors, performers, musicians and technicians. This is a scheme the French operate to sustain an industry that employs 1.3 million people. The scheme normally sees the state pay a monthly stipend to artists provided that they work 507 hours over a year. Covid has obviously affected the ability of artists to make up their hours. The twelve month extension will allow artists to continue on the stipend irrespective of whether they have put in the working hours or not. He said ‘Artists must be able to create again and to work together to reach audiences….Even if during this time were going to have to rethink a new sort of relationship with audiences.”

What strikes me, is the clear demonstration by a national leader that artists are workers, they are essential to society and that they do not form part of an elite section of society. This championing of the arts hasn’t come easily. The French aren’t shy or stuffy about protesting and lobbying, and so the government has seen French artists sustain a solid lobby to maintain pressure to support their arts workers. Something we as an industry should surely be wise to follow too? Starting with our local MPs? So what are our questions? Where to start? There has been much talk of Universal Basic Income. Could this be trialled for artists before being rolled out more widely?

Meanwhile perhaps some of you might also write to your MPs and MSPs to find out how this fund will be distributed. My good friend Matthew Rooke, formerly Head of Music for the Scottish Arts Council, came up with a few questions that might be useful. Here they are;

  • What proportion of the funds announced is expected to be spent on freelance artists and creative practitioners?
  • Will there be conditions be put in place to ensure fair and open access to such opportunities?
  • What provision will there be to ensure currently underrepresented groups to access such funding opportunities?
  • What provision will be made for freelancers and other creative practitioners whose working practice is to originate work first and then offer it to venues and promoters?
  • What provision will be made for non-venue based promoters, such as festivals  to commission work?
  • What provision will be made for non-public performing arts venues such as recording studios which are key tools for individual artists and groups in sustaining their careers and income?
  • A good deal of the creative ecology lies outside of the normal remit of national funding bodies – for example much folk, traditional music and jazz is delivered through small private businesses – pubs and bars, for example and for younger people contemporary music has been performed via clubs. What provision will be made to reach out into those communities to embrace them within the funding process? 
  • What will beneficiaries have to do to future proof their operations once the emergency fund has been exhausted and will this be part of the appraisal procedure?



Comments (48)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Graeme McCormick says:

    If a Universal Citizens Income of £200 per week was introduced then that would give everybody enough to live on and give creativities some financial certainty.

    It would cost about £55billion to introduce in Scotland. The Scottish Government has the power to bring it in with Annual Ground Rent to find it.

    1. John Learmonth says:

      What if all the farmers and people who work in the food chain industry suddenly got £200 a week and thought themselves…..bollocks to working for a living lets just put our feet up and watch Netflix and drink beer.
      No food then gets produced and we all starve to death on our £200 a week. I suppose we can all go to the theatre and watch ‘creative’ people whilst we all slowly die….

      1. Jim sutherland says:

        This is the Ian Duncan Smith argument and it isn’t very credible. Do you really think everyone would stop working if they were given a UBI of £200 per week? How much is your mortgage/rent?

      2. John S Warren says:

        The problem with this Mr Learmonth is the quality of your evidence, at least evidence beyond the headlines in the the Daily Mail or Express about malingerers. Are there malingerers? Of course there are, but in economic terms the quantum does not make your case. If you believe you can make a case, prove the quantum. Provide the population proof. The detailed facts. I promise you will not find it in the Daily Mail. You will actually have to do the work to find the evidence, which I suspect you do not have. What you have is, I hazard a hunch that you cannot stand up. It certainly does not work as a matter of empirical psychology, for the vast majority of people. People do not actually think that way, save at the margin (the ends of the bell curve).

        Evidence that you are wrong is supplied by the pandemic. Many people are furloughed, effectively on a UBI-style basis. Almost all are desparate to be back at work. Your theory is simply dubious at best and almost certainly totally wrong. And if I am wrong, be my guest. Prove it. I follow evidence, and where there is not enough evidence I follow good, clever ideas deduced from what evidence we have. Gossip doesn’t cut it. I suggest your proposition is neither based on evidence or wisdom; it is a gossipy reminder of the guff that has driven this country forward on low grade, careless, populist thinking; into the mess in Britain we are currently in.

        1. Jim sutherland says:

          John s Warren, hear, hear

          1. John Learmonth says:

            Jim get me a plumbing job paying £120 an hour…….I’ll be there in a flash.

        2. John Learmonth says:

          I’ve never read the Dail Mail or the Express in my entire life except if I was staying in hotel/B+B and it was on the breakfast table and then only gave it a quick look.
          However I’m 56, no mortgage having worked since leaving school at 16.I also know plenty of farmers who work 7 days a week 52 weeks a year and once they paid their tax are left with bugger all. Given the choice of getting £200 a week for doing nothing or working take a wild guess what I and lots of other people would do. If works so good why do the rich not bother?
          I’ve no desire to be rich but £200 a week would be wonderfull especially if i could make a few quid (cash) on the side….. I’m a top plumber should you live near Kelso…..

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @John Learmonth, your arguments would more directly apply against feudalism, capitalism and the whole rentier class. Unfortunately a lot of them do ‘work’, at least to protect their privileges or feed their egos. Despite the lavish expenses for members of the House of Lords, for example, some do insist on meddling in affairs of state, if in some cases only to pocket even more backhanders.

            As for farmers, they are largely subsidised into profit in Scotland. I am not sure of the latest all-subsidy figures, but this article may be near enough the mark:
            And those figures do not include things like agricultural red diesel, which their professional organisations have lobbied to keep. The latest figures I saw showed average (mean) Scottish farmer subsidies at a much higher rate than £200 per week, although of course that varies.

            As an aside, the Internet and much of the modern open technology it relies on depends on unpaid volunteers. As a more general point, society as we know it depends on vast numbers of unstinting, competent and uncomplaining lifetimes of unpaid work, even if it is not always recognised by economists.

          2. John S Warren says:

            Whether you read the Daily Mail is neither here nor there; it was illustrative of your way of thinking; I have no reason to change that judgement. Talk about something for nothing, that was a neat little business advert for your plumbing business you inserted into your comment. Then you turned £200 per week subsistence into a cash-on-the-side tax dodge as the only thing that would make it worth while. I do not complain, but there is a pattern of imagination emerging; which seems to see everyone as cynical, opportunistic and self-serving; even those who are clearly struggling to help or serve themselves better than to live off £200 a week; but that doesn’t happen in your world view unless its a scam, or anyway, who cares?

            Most people do not want to do nothing with their lives at all; and certainly not to want to live off only £200 per week, because as you noticed with your cash-on-the-side remark; it doesn’t really offer much of a life if it is all you have. Apart from that, your argument is about what you would do and what you claim farmers would do; pure anecdotalism. Still no evidence offered, and of course since there is no money in it I surmise you are not going to offer any evidence (that really would require work for nothing and that just doesn’t happen.) You offer no evidence save for your reptetitive, glib anecdotes about what farmers might think, in the abstract. For most farmers, if you enquired closely, I suspect you would find they farm principally because of the way of life, not the financial return.

            I trust you do well with your plumbing but your understanding of human psychology seems to me seriously impoverished. Many people work for a great deal more important things than the money, from sectors as wide as education to medicine to scientific research. Money isn’t everything, for anyone; but it is simply a necessity for everyone. Your comments still manage to plumb the depths of plain guff.

          3. Jim Sutherland says:

            You’ve done well John, if you’ve no mortgage you’re in a pretty good position to live on less income. You’ll have your bus pass in four years too, then not long to wait for retirement. Most artists however can’t command the fees that plumbers can and generally struggle to pay the bills. What are you on? £120 an hour? I doubt you’d have been happy earning £200 a week 10 years ago, and you certainly wouldn’t pay off your mortgage on it.

        3. John Learmonth says:

          Obviously Mr Warren £200 a week is nothing to you, nice work if you can get it but your driven by higher principles and can afford to not be as focused on money than us plebs.
          I suspect people who work in education, medicine or scientific research get paid or do they do it for love or are you been anecdotal with no evidence to back up your claims?
          Dont bother phoning me when your pipes freeze.. …assuming you live near Kelso.

          1. John S Warren says:

            Your comments are overwrought and overemotional Mr Learmonth. You lurch between cynical overconfidence and defensive anger. You made the original argument, I have just pointed out that you failed to back it up. You still haven’t.

            I know young Postdocs, without tenure, researching because they love their discipline. They do not choose their subject for the money; many could find more profitable futures in other work with the talent they have. You completely miss the point. There is nothing esoteric or high-falutin about this. People without a job mostly just wish to be valued and to have an opportunity to do something worthwhile. Often they have to settle for nothing, and if they find a low-pid job it offers nothing but money and little of it. That is the tragedy, because there is so much more than money to make life worthwhile, that people want to work for.

            If you read what I actually wrote you will see that I acknowledged money was a necessity for everyone; it just isn’t the only thing people work to acquire, in whatever area of life. I have known farmers who own land that commands a high capital value that can never make a viable ROI on the capital from farming; they farm because they are dedicated to farming. Most people wish to work and be respected for what they do, or for the satisfaction, or the social value, or the comradeship, or a sense of achievement; one way or another, of being valued. You appear to claim that it is all money and nothing else is of any account. You also suggest that doing nothing or scamming is the only alternative to working for money and nothing but money. Do you really believe that is all there is? If not why say it.

            Do you really think not doing my plumbing is an argument for anything at all? That I would care?

        4. John Learmonth says:

          Mr Warren, i’ve never been motivated by money but when your central heating breaks down in the middle of winter who you going to phone….your Post-doc friends or a good friendly plumber who won’t charge you £120 an hour…..assuming you live near Kelso

          1. John S Warren says:

            Well, you do try. I do not live in Kelso; it is just as well; you aren’t coming to fix my plumbing because I do not agree with you: remember? QED. I rest my case. Now you aren’t motivated by money. I suggest you actually read where you started. I didn’t start this. You did. You just don’t like the consequences of your own beliefs. Work it out. Make up your mind.

            I am tired of people taking it out of on the defenceless; it isn’t good enough. We are better than the last forty years of post-thatcherism has produced; or we should be.

        5. John Learmonth says:

          I see its all Maggies fault….prior to her nobody was concerned about money and all those strikes in the 70’s were motivated by transcendental non materialistic demands rather than the trade unions wanting….MORE MONEY.

          1. John S Warren says:

            Well, “i’ve never been motivated by money” didn’t last long. 52 minutes to be precise. The “trade unions” are the culprits; remember them? You are stuck in a world that doesn’t exist. The power of the trade unions died over thirty years ago. There are no powerful trade unions any more. The unemployed are on their own. The world has passed you by. No wonder. In your fantasy world the trade unions are still the tyrants, and the capitalists are the victims, and you are not interested in money, except in your own words “(you) can afford to not be as focused on money than us plebs.” You have the memory of an amaeba, you can’t remember the last daft observation you made. Mr Learmonth, you do not only talk guff, you are committed to guff. You are clearly beyond reach or reason with you bilious approach to humanity. I think I should I just avoid Kelso, even to visit; you make it sound utterly ghastly and inhuman.

  2. Jean says:

    What about if the first action of all the venues receiving support, was to pay the artists for the cancelled programmes for this year. That might be one way of at least supporting the actors, musicians, techies, designers etc etc for the income they would have had.
    That apart I think that the basic income could be started in the first instance with the artists.
    Immediately employing as many Artists as possible, in schools particularly, (as performers, rather than teachers) Might start to see the change that Black Lives Matter dands that we make. We need to know who we are. Artists of every form could and should be involved in a great discovery for our young folk. Anyhow, my point is our country needs our artists not just to be on or above the breadline, but to be celebrated and rewarded and involved in the ‘new normal’. Now that we have all had time to consider what’s really important.

  3. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

    I’m a creative practitioner. I’ve funded my creativity for over forty years by taking various jobs. As well as providing me with ongoing means of subsistence, those jobs also added grist to my creative mill. They also obviated the need to monetise my practice.

    What am I missing here?

    1. Jim Sutherland says:

      What are you missing?

      Are you furloughed? Or perhaps supported by another of the Covid support schemes?

      If not you are missing exactly what artists are missing, income.

      If you are supported, why would you deny similar support to artists?

      1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

        No, I’m not furloughed or anything like that. But I know several creative practitioners who have been furloughed from their bread-and-butter jobs. They’ve used the extra time available to them to practice their creativity.

        What I’m missing is why some creative practitioners choose to rely on the monetising of their creative practice for their means of subsistence (or ‘income’, if you like). By doing so, they’re surely (among other things) leaving themselves in a rather more precarious economic position than that occupied by the vast majority of creatives who don’t so rely on the monetisation of their creativity for their bread-and-butter. Indeed, the current predicament in which the former find themselves would seem to bear out the imprudence of their choice.

        1. Jim Sutherland says:

          Fair enough, I do agree that not all those that consider themselves artists should go full time.
          For some, perhaps like yourself, arts participation should remain a hobby, however, it’s also true that artists, take musicians for instance, are hugely exploited and the fat “middleman” has generally found a way to syphon of a large percentage of their income. Do you enjoy cheap streaming services?

          But that’s a different discussion, and it’s not an argument for artists not to receive emergency government support.

          1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            Yes, precisely. That’s why I’m wondering why other creatives don’t fund their creativity on a more secure basis; in particular, by supporting it through other economic activity (as a ‘hobby’, as you disparage it) rather than making it a hostage to fortune in the marketplace or the whims of government hand-outs.

            No, I don’t subscribe to any cheap streaming services; there are other ways of accessing their content, which don’t put money in the pockets of the exploitative ‘middlemen’ of whom you speak.

            Speaking of streaming, though: digital platforms do offer creatives extremely low-cost virtual spaces through which we can share our creativity, should we feel the need, on a DIY basis. The exploitation you mention is possible only when our creative spaces are owned by third parties, who charge creatives a premium for using them by syphoning off much of the revenue our creativity generates. Cutting out the ‘middlemen’, using digital technology to create our own creative spaces, disappropriates the disappropriators, just as piracy does.

            I’ve argued elsewhere that current circumstances have provided creative practitioners with time, the opportunity, and an imperative to explore the fresh creative possibilities that independent digital platforms offer us. Such platforms also offer an alternative to our having to share our creativity through the medium of physical platforms, which are more exclusive and resource-hungry.

            But I digress… If creative practitioners can get the government to admit liability and compensate them for business lost during the lockdown it’s enforced on us, then good luck to them. It just puzzles me why some seek to create in order to live rather than live in order to create, thus leaving themselves vulnerable to financial hardship when the business through which their creativity is monetised and exploited by ‘middlemen’ is for some reason disrupted.

  4. SleepingDog says:

    What if we are all artists (as, for example, Joseph Beuys asserted)? Or maybe a lot of these artists differ from plumbers in being essentially hobbyists (and/or perhaps attention-seekers)? Or are artists those creative people society looks towards to solve problems… in which case shouldn’t they be solving this problem of funding/surviving?

    Surely we have to go back to the question asked at the start of Lynn Olson’s essay Is Art Necessary? (The Raven 33: Anarchism and the Arts): “What good is art anyway?” If art is means by which the status quo is either replaced or defended, why would we want state-funded art in the first place? Surely art can be harmful, reactionary, of negative value? The BBC seems to think so, in removing some programmes made only a few years ago, although its elitist corpus of royalist propaganda remains.

    Perhaps artists should be banding together to execute daring and stylish raids and frauds to rob the rich and give to the poor (including starving artists)? After all, considering how little the truly rich pay in tax, taking public money is more like the reverse (and how many of these artists work in advertising anyway?). Confecting astonishing entrapments to elicit caste-damning confessions and establishment-rupturing secrets from entranced audiences of the powerful? Secrecy props up the state. Olson points out that new social and economic ideas are typically subjected to state censorship. These pandemic times may crack some controls. Is state funding for artists simply a way to stuff opaque and soundproof gloop into those cracks?

    1. Jim Sutherland says:

      The state is supporting other workers through this Covid crisis. Are you suggesting it should not support artists? Presumably you are supported? If not why not? And would you like to be?

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Jim Sutherland, perhaps the state is already supporting some workers who do harm. There must be many who are contributing to exploitation of people and planet, who are making or pushing weapons or toxic consumables. I think we need to have an objective view on what parts of the economy we should be supporting, and what we should not. I have already suggested that many artists (but not all) will be employed in propping up a harmful status quo, and others are amusing themselves. No, I am not government-supported or looking for support, and I give my ‘art’, such amateurish dabblings as may be, away for free. Who are the really useful artists? People like Banksy, maybe? People writing protest folk sings to accompany environmental protests? Let us suppose that the label ‘artist’ may dignify and obscure the issue somewhat.

        The problem with the current state bailouts is that huge amounts of public funds are sloshing into private coffers with very little scrutiny. Creative solutions are needed to redesign social and economic systems. Olson wrote about creating an innovation society, where new systems could be tried out. What does Art in Scotland contribute to that new-system thinking? Or does it in large part block the path towards progress? I am not against trying out universal basic income, but would like to see it coupled with a mass scything off of excess (and I am not sure I see that many Leveller artists).

        1. Jim Sutherland says:

          I find what you say interesting and diverting from the subject that I’m pursuing and there are elements of this , what is art anyway, conversation I will choose not to answer for now

          It’s pretty clear that the government Covid support is not diseñes to support people but rather it supports business while the PR insists it supports ‘workers’. There are many people in need of support. My argument is for the support of people who are earning a living as artists, particularly performers who will not return to ‘normal’ for some time.

  5. Liz Summerfield says:

    I think we shouldn’t forget that many technical staff are freelance too. They may not be creating the work, but they’re needed to present it to the public. Many people working in this field are on zero hours with the big, already-funded theatres, or with smaller venues that will themselves fall through the gap.

    1. Jim Sutherland says:

      There is simbiosis between tech crew and artists for sure and the French recognise technicians in the same way they do artists.

  6. Margherita Muller says:

    I cannot understand why we cannot have outdoors theatre – cinemas and beer garden bring more revenue in tax?

  7. Kevin Hattie says:

    I’m not very clued up on this issue. But is there some sort of union or organisation that could represent all the artists facing difficulties? If not, how feasible would it be to organise and try to put pressure on the government?

    Like you say in your article, there seems to be a body representing French artists making sure the government hear their concerns.

    1. NORMAN BISSELL says:

      This article raises all the key issues for freelance artists at this time and the questions at the end must be asked. You can be sure that many companies and venues will be honing their applications for a share of the £107 million funding. My union ther Writers Guild GB in Scotland has made proposals for £20 million of this funding to go to artists, £15 million of it to freelance artists and £5 million in commissions to freelance and employed artists to apply for. It’s been sent to the Scottish Government Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Parliament CTEEA Committee Convener Joan McAlpine and Creative Scotland Chief Executive Iain Munro. Our suggestions would benefit communities and economic recovery in Scotland as well. We’ve asked that WGGB Scotland and the other creative trade unions have early discussions about these and other proposals with those tasked with making decisions on the allocation of these funds. What do you think of our proposals? As Jim has suggested, we think that artists should take the initiative and write to their MSPs and put forward these and other ideas for funding freelance artists. If we wait for the usual suspects to make all the decisions about who gets what of the £107 million, it will be too late. They could also contact their own unions e.g. the Musicians Union etc to ask them what they are doing about this. Our proposals are here:

      1. Kevin Hattie says:

        Hi Norman,

        I’m sympathetic to the proposals. I think the article makes a number of good points that people in government and funding bodies should listen to.

        I hope things can be resolved in your favour, and people who are no doubt very anxious at present can have some assurances about their financial futures. I feel very fortunate to live in Glasgow where there is a rich cultural scene. We should support the wonderful artists contributing to this in any way we can.

        Best wishes.


      2. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

        That’s the bugger with relying on government funding: we all end up fighting one another over who gets to scrape the pot.

        I wish everyone well with their application for a share of the dosh; in fact, I hope everyone’s application is better than everyone else’s and no one’s left behind. Let the stramash begin!

        I’m so glad I don’t need a hand-out to fund my creative practice. I’ve got a job that does that.

        1. DomhnallB says:

          I’m with you on this one. I drove a bus and lorry most of my life to fund my music making (art) . Farmers all over the country are looking for workers just now so if you are an artist get in touch with them and go and work in the fields for the summer and autumn and that, along with your art, will fund you through the winter.

          1. Jim Sutherland says:

            Yes music/art can make an excellent hobby, it can also be a vocational occupation that earns one a living. Presumably you disagree with the government Covid support schemes generally and think that nobody deserves support and the whole country should have been working on farms during the three months of lockdown. Artists who earn money from their art pay tax, just like lorry drivers, and deserve to benefit from it in the same way as others, you are rightly proud of having sustained your life through driving lorries, but have no more right to that pride that an artist who sustains their life through income from their art. The government rules are still stopping performers working and will continue to do so for some time. The government must take responsibility for its ruling and support those it disadvantages.

          2. DomhnallB says:

            I didn’t talk about art as a hobby. It’s as much a profession as driving a lorry. It’s a wider issue than Covid. Most artists (before, during and after Covid) don’t earn enough through their work, unlike – say- farm workers and lorry drivers, so I don’t really see why they should be special and forever relying on government handouts. No driver I know has ever been handed a bursary to do some experimental creative driving. Unfortunately.

          3. Jim Sutherland says:

            You might choose to make it a wider issue than Covid but the issue Im raising is covid19 and the support for ‘workers’

            Regarding funding and subsidy, I’m afraid, if you’ve driven for farms, You have benefitted from some of the largest government subsidies going but oddly you choose to deny that to artists. When you say you find your music by driving, your music is a hobby. For many music is a profession.

            Your analogy of working at your driving job to fund your art is a bit like me saying I work at my art to fund my farming hobby. The beetroot are looking good at the moment and the tatties are nearly ready. We’ve been enjoying home grown salad all summer and I can’t wait till the tomatoes, aubergines and squash are ready.

          4. DomhnallB says:

            I don’t drive for industrialised farms. I mostly work on the West Coast moving organic stuff for crofters and fishers. I don’t suppose you ever use supermarkets? Or instruments built by “capitalist” companies? Define “workers”. Whether we like them or not bankers and their kind are workers too and equally deserving. I consider myself as a paid professional musician, playing and getting paid for events, as much as you do. Just that my driving job sustains the other and provides for my family without handouts (even at this time). You can choose to compose day and night but don’t complain if that does not sustain. Live to create, rather than the other way round. Like Norman MacCaig for example who worked all his life in a primary school classroom to sustain himself and his art.

          5. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            I was talking to a buddy down south last night (we get together every Saturday night to watch Match of the Day, but that’s by-the-by). He was saying that, back in April, the Arts Council handed out £20m in free money from an emergency response fund to artists, creative practitioners, and freelancers over two rounds of competition. The money went in a month. The lucky 10,000 winners got as much as £2,500 each. This was in addition to the £90m it made available to businesses that were part of the government’s National Portfolio and the £50m it made available to non-nationalised private businesses.

            Being a hobbyist rather than a worker or entrepreneur, I don’t know if Creative Scotland held a similar competition to help tide creatives over until they could find other work, but from what Jim says it doesn’t seem so.

          6. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            And Jim’s analogy is apt: there are many crofters, for whom crofting is their life, who take other jobs to subsidise their ‘hobby’.

          7. Jim Sutherland says:

            I don’t recall complaining that my composing work doesn’t sustain me, nor do I recall saying bankers weren’t workers. You seem he’ll bent on picking a fight. Your story is your story, please don’t try to rewrite mine. You work for crofters? Excellent ! You’ve been lucky enough to benefit from Cristina subsidies, so your music ‘work’ has been subsidised by the government too. Here’s a handy link to Crofting subsidies. You might find it helpful the next time your firming you’re arguments. Disengaging now, thanks!

          8. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            And Jim’s analogy is apt: there are many crofters, for whom crofting is their life, who have to take other jobs to subsidise their ‘hobby’.

          9. DomhnallB says:

            How crofters earn their money is not my fault. I only help them (and sustainable local fisherman without subsidies) get their produce to market. Artists need to earn their way like everyone else and not rely (mostly) on public handouts. And disengaging from dialogue is not just (to paraphrase) the last refuge of the artist, but a tacit admission that you’re on boggy ground. Apply for one of those farm jobs Jim. It will be good fur ye.

          10. Jim Sutherland says:

            You assume I’m fighting for my own benefit. That’s odd, I’m raising an issue that affects many arts workers and you keep plugging away at your rewrite of my narrative. Whether you like it or not you’ve benefited from public subsidy. I feel no boggy ground beneath my feet. Continue speaking for yourself but perhaps rather than pick fights by telling me Who I am , based on no knowledge of my income, you’d be better to ask questions. My article is general, your comments are personal/ anecdotal. We all need to diversify to survive but we can’t all work on farms or drive lorries. Please reconsider your inflammatory/reactionary suggestions. You’ve had enough of my time now.

          11. DomhnallB says:

            I never assumed you were just speaking for yourself; it was clear you presumed to speak for other artists. Good luck with that. Count me out, or not in my name as the anti war coalition put it.

          12. Jim Sutherland says:

            I see, I believe you’re confused. You’ve just suggested I apply for a job on a farm. Why would you do that?

            Frankly you don’t even have the courtesy to stand behind your ideas and choose to use a name which does not actually identify you.

            I shouldn’t really have given your remarks the time of day but this issue is important to me.
            I’m surprising myself here by engaging with a troll but I must admit your reactionary statements have got under my skin..
            This will no doubt please you.

            I leave the floor open for you to have the last word and look forward to your next ill thought out generalised statement.

        2. DomhnallB says:

          As a fellow artist, I would have thought you’d have known that ‘Anon’ was invariably the best poet and songwriter. Certainly in the Gaelic and bothy ballad and Greek and Egyptian etc art I’ve seen and heard and know.

          1. tiredoldhorse says:

            Cremative Scotland is a bureaucratic glamfest supporting its own trendy aparatchiks and giving away much of its surplus to prestige projects. Under Sir Sandy Crombie’s helmsmanship it chucked £5m at Kengo Kuma Associates curatorially hopeless Dundee waterfront concrete bunker in breach of its own spending guidelines! It also disgracefully threw £500,000 into the coffers of Sony subsidiary, California based Tristar, to help out with Trainspotting 2, a yuppy-pleasing film which ruthlessly denigrates working class residents of Edinburgh council estates. Rank and file working artists, performers, writers, and musicians get nothing more than a few crumbs from the rich man’s table. Why are we putting up with this crap?

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.