Bench Press: Cancelled Culture

big cancelled sign over a shop window

The last few days has seen a slew of emails, Facebook notifications and text messages announcing the cancellation of events.

My silversmithing class was one of those cut, understandably, although our own household lockdown with the babies all a-sniffle means my disappointment is limited. I’ve had emails about other events further into the future – weeks and months ahead – already being cancelled and postponed.

The social distancing advice of The Government has led to the effective shutdown of many cultural venues, including theatres, cinemas and art galleries. This action is necessary to save lives but the impact is that many elements of creative industries are threatened to the point of extinction.

In the last few weeks we featured the planned pop-up to be hosted by the amazing women of The Howe Collective – this is one small part of the disruption being caused  – but it will impact on the efforts of the members – Julie Campbell, Su Florence, Katy Keddie, Katharine McCann, and Kim Sullivan who had planned for the event for months.

Like The Howe Collective Members, many artists and artisans are one person-bands. Even when working together they are reliant on the support of customers. All creative business are people with responsibilities and commitments – some with families – and their income is based on sales. As people close off to the creative industries to protect themselves and their focus turns to securing essentials such as food and household goods, the small businesses find themselves in a fight for their lives.

So, if you’re in a position to support your favourite creatives make sure you do.

If you can BUY their goods. As with all products it comes with risks around infection but, just like supermarkets, the risk might be mitigated simply with soap and water. If you’re in self isolation and concerned about bringing in any factors into your home unnecessarily see if there is any way you can buy gift vouchers for your favourite makers – support the artist now and “spend” it later when you can be sure that the disease has passed. Many creatives are on Kofi you can offer your support for as little as £3 on a one off “coffee” – with the maker receiving all of the cash.

The last few years has seen such a blooming of creativity and people finding their way in making their art pay – it would be a shame to reach the other side of this and returning to reliance on mass produced.

If you can – give creatives your support.


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