The Arts in Times of Crisis

Standard Utilities comments on their support for visual artists, at all stages of their career, and how the arts sector is still in time a of crisis.

Over the last few months, many people have commented on the ways in which the arts have helped us survive the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s hard to imagine how we would have all got through the most challenging time since WW2 without the arts to soften the blow, as people from across the world have found solace in so many art forms, from music to film and literature, and to poetry and the visual arts.

Despite the widely recognised and crucial role of the arts during times of crisis, one in five UK creative industries jobs will be lost as a result of the pandemic, with a 74 billion-pound UK revenue drop forecast for 2020. While many artists have been offered some basic financial support under the UK’s Self-employed Income Support Scheme or through Ireland’s COVID-19 Income Support Scheme, this remuneration falls gravely short in ensuring the economic survival of individual practitioners or the cultural sector as a whole. Ireland’s pandemic payment of €25 million will go some way to bolstering the sector in the short term, but many arts organisations are deeply concerned about their sustainability going forward into an uncertain future.

Standard Utilities support

Standard Utilities supports and contributes widely to the arts sector, both north and south of the border. In Northern Ireland, the organisation provides telecommunications to some of the biggest players in the creative sector, with our longstanding and valued clients including the Playhouse and Waterhouse theatres, The MAC, Lyric Theatre, Crescent Arts Centre and Arts & Business NI. Standard Utilities is also a proud supporter of Visual Artists Ireland, with the organisation working in partnership to cover the costs of ‘Member Insurance’ for Northern Ireland’s VAI members, so that professional visual artists can benefit from Public and Products Liability Insurance. This policy aims to meet the needs of individual visual or applied artists who require insurance against legal liabilities to pay for compensation arising out of injury to third parties and/or damage to third party property. This insurance policy covers artists across a range of work-specific contexts, from preparation, lecturing and teaching to public displays of fine or applied art, which includes exhibitions or displays. The insurance allows Northern Ireland’s VAI members to go about their day-to-day work without the worry of having to find a financial sum, in the event of an unexpected liable case. Standard Utilities is valiant in supporting such a cause that enables artists to carry out their important work without stress or worry about accidents or other circumstances beyond their control.

While the curtain is temporarily lowered on the creative sector, VAI’s vision of daring to “dream of a time when visual artists will live in a world of opportunities” is supported far and wide. Artistic opportunities may have been temporarily displaced, but there is a wave of public support, backed by a number of key figures who are throwing their weight behind the campaign – such as writers like Sir Tom Stoppard and A-list actors such as James McAvoy – who are calling on governments to take action to prevent the sector from collapse.

What’s being done to bolster the arts sector?

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber has had recent success in trialling a range of safety measures in the London Palladium – aimed at allowing theatres to reopen without social distancing, ahead of an upcoming tour of his musical, Phantom of the Opera, in South Korea. These measures included using a ‘disinfectant fog’ throughout the venue that is said to have a 30-day lifespan. These kinds of technological innovations and solutions will be crucial in the current COVID-19 reality, as cultural venues gradually begin to reopen, whilst allowing them to prioritise the safety of audiences, artists and staff alike. With this in mind, Standard Utilities are rolling out a new Temperature Screening Equipment, which can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by controlling access to building entry points. This rapid response technology reads temperatures in just one second, highlighting any visitors who may have a high temperature, this helping to slow down the rate of community infection.

If you would like to learn more about Standard Utilities and how their telecoms packages could support you in the workplace, get in touch on +44 (0)1 908 8888 or +44 (0)28 9032 8888.

This article was originally published in Issue: 5 September – October 2020 Edition of The Visual Artists’ News Sheet, published by Visual Artists Ireland. Click on the link to learn more.