Liverpool arts organisation attracts City Council attention

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Photo Credit: March for the Arts

A local arts organisation has gained support from Liverpool City Council to continue aiding creatives during the coronavirus pandemic.

March for the Arts is a grassroots Liverpool organisation which aims to provide resources and encourages collectives to rally for the arts community. The group prompted decision-makers to listen to their needs after their online protest gained over 1300 viewers last Saturday.

Liz Barker, who runs the group alongside other creatives, is a multidisciplinary theatrical practitioner and theatre-maker. She explained what is needed to keep the arts going during uncertain times: “We’re asking the council to put the framework in place to cement live arts through the pandemic, such as looking at things like COVID contingency planning which means investing in technology and equipment so if a local lockdown hits a production can instantly go online.”

The group has had an emergency motion put through by the council, providing a lifeline for the arts community. Said Ms Barker: “A councillor we met with put through a motion which says that there can’t be £40 million put through for hospitality and none for culture. The arts and hospitality in this city are intrinsically linked, we’ve got the ear of councillors who sit in those important meetings and they are on our side.”

Despite the new support from the council, the pandemic hasn’t been easy for individuals working within the arts industry, especially freelancers.

Grace Goulding is a freelance movement director and choreographer and has welcomed the support from the council. After facing difficulties through the national lockdown, she found herself utilising her skills to create a movement to engage the arts community and the public by setting up the project One Big Dance.

She said: “Freelancers were a last thought, there was nothing for us to have as support in terms of furlough. I decided to start an arts project that existed online and could be performed live. It’s about engaging with people through dance and storytelling.”

The arts have had a turbulent time in recent months with the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, making suggestions that professionals should “retrain and find other jobs.” These comments have been further cemented by a government ad campaign leaked over social media this week which received backlash from the public.

Ms Goulding also explained how this stigma behind the arts makes it difficult for the industry to gain support from the public as well as from higher up.

She said: “The arts will always be people who think about the world differently, it always provides a voice that fights for human rights and the experience of others but it’s always been put at the bottom of the list.

“The arts are a huge input into the economy, we’re having to turn to more corporate ways of funding ourselves which is where the council comes into place.”

About Isabelle Cairns, JMU Journalism