Advisory Paper #1 for Department of Communities: COVID-19 & arts freelancers

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Multiple claims exist on the £33million Culture Arts and Heritage Fund allocated by Westminster to the NI Executive. A robust case can be made that it should be designated to ensure that the rich artistic, cultural and heritage assets (both human and physical) on which Northern Ireland relies for its creativity, wellbeing and regrowth, will still be there for all of the people of Northern Ireland in the future.
Competing demands exist for its distribution whether it is to kickstart economic activity, protect institutions and jobs or to reconnect our communities. All of these are legitimate and interdependent claims and the very diversity and complexity of them has highlighted how rich and intertwined all parts of our cultural and creative industries are. In addition, the pandemic has exposed critical fragilities in the cultural economy not only in Northern Ireland but worldwide (Buse, 2020) related to historic policy gaps arising from its complexity, the freelance and precarious workforce, and the dominance of SMEs, many of whom are also charities (Leung and Easton, 2020).
Arts and culture will always continue to exist in some shape or form even without public investment. However, to assume that ‘if people really want it, it will survive’ is an argument with little substance and risks some very real losses to the future of this society. In particular this paper highlights in brief how independent freelancers must form a critical and significant part of the immediate investment plan and the emergency funds within 2020 - 2021, signalling how they are a vital part of a future long-term recovery strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyDepartment for Communities
Publication statusAccepted - 31 Aug 2020


  • COVID-19
  • cultural labour
  • cultural policy
  • sustainability
  • cultural recovery
  • cultural economy


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