The Guild and COVID 19

At the Guild of Media Arts we are all concerned that the creative sector as a whole is able to carry on during the COVID 19 epidemic and, as important, that it is able to make its vital contribution to the recovery that must follow. We hope that the actions we are taking and will continue to take will provide some support to you and your colleagues in the difficult weeks that lie ahead.

Following Government guidance we have reluctantly decided to cancel the next Guild Social, which was to have been on Wednesday 25 March and we will not organise further Socials for the time being. With our incoming Master, Olivia Chatten, we were planning the 2020/21 events programme, something which we have put on hold for now. We will continue to work with our partners in the UK and overseas to promote the excellence of practice in York through the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. We are working with York College to find ways to complete the 2019/20 Media Arts Saturday Club.

Thank you to those who responded promptly to our request to complete the Creative Industries Federation online survey about the impact of the measures being taken to combat the epidemic. The impact of cancelled tours and performances, festivals and events, and the abrupt closure of museums, galleries, theatres, cinemas and clubs is being felt by all. Cashflow could be an immediate issue for organisations large and small. Unemployment or worse threatens self-employed artists, sole traders and support staff who rely on a thriving creative economy.

The Federation is providing updated guidance here and asking you to continue to provide information. Arts Council England is also maintaining online advice for the sector, which is here. York’s arts organisations have been asked to provide them with data about the challenges they are facing. If Government listens, we might begin to see solutions that work for our sector.

During this time it can be difficult to keep in mind our goal is to make the most of our creative talent. But the inspiring example of the balcony recitals in Milan has many parallels in the UK. York Theatre Royal is committed to supporting the artists whose performances have been cancelled and have set up a successful refund+donate scheme for ticket-holders. Many more performances will go ahead through livestream, on a free or pay-what-you-like basis. Court members are pitching in, offering their expertise to set up alternative distribution channels and systems for effective online teamworking. Further afield there are proposal for street musicians, who have also lost their audience and their income, to perform online, with a virtual ‘hat’ for donations. The Social Distancing Festival, which is based in Toronto, showcases online and livestream arts from round the world and elicits donations for the artists. Survival for many could be about finding different ways to use the skills for which the current market has vanished. Our ingenuity will enable us to find our own solutions and we will continue to reach audiences old and new.

You can help us to help you by sharing your experience. Follow us on social media and let’s see what the creative community of York can do together!

Look after yourselves and one another,

The Court of the Guild of Media Arts