A performing poet from Birmingham has set up an emergency fund to help freelancers in the arts, amid the coronavirus crisis which is leaving many self-employed artists out of work.

Vicki MacWinyers, a stage manager whose résumé includes working at Birmingham REP and the mac, has set a target of £10,000 to help artists whose work has been compromised. She hopes to be able to distribute £200 to each artist once her online fundraiser has substantial means.

The 47-year-old from Bearwood said: “As a freelancer in the arts, myself and my peers have lost most, if not all, of our income for the foreseeable future. I figured it was better to do something pro-active rather than join the panic!

“I am eternally grateful for every ounce of generosity and the more we raise, the more we can share with others in this time of uncertainty. I want to help as many as I can for as long as I can.

“COVID-19 is effecting so many people in so many ways. Unfortunately the growing crisis of CV19 has had a huge impact on the arts, meaning many freelancers – performers and crew alike – have incurred massive losses to their income.

“It is also clear that as a society we are not set up to support the self-employed when they are faced with situations like this which are outside of their control.”

Vikki MacWinyers, stage manager and performer, who has set up a fund to help freelancers in the artsMPD Photography
Vikki MacWinyers has set up a fund to help freelancers in the arts

The Emergency Fund for Freelance Performers (EFFP) aims to raise £10,000 to cover hardship costs of freelancers in the West Midlands working in the arts who have been affected by job and tour cancellations, insurance with no coverage, and with no access to sick pay, etc.

The aim of the EFFP is to offer a one off payment to all self employed artists, performers, creatives, crew of £200. The fund has so far raised £365 but hopes artists and their supporters will help provide for their fellow creatives.

To ensure the smooth delivery of donated funds, MacWinyers is working with local solicitor Ian Henery, web and app designer Tom O’Connor, and community music artist Jobe Baker-Sullivan. The trio are in conversation with Stuart Ashmore from Sandwell Council of Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) about to help distribute funds.

Freelancers themselves will be asked to apply for and access the fund through EFFP’s Facebook or Twitter pages, or by way of the initiative’s planned website.

The EFFP are also keen to bring the plight of the self employed community into the public eye and rally for change. They hope raising this issue will help to change the support network that freelancers are able to access.

Vikki MacWinyers and colleagues have launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to help freelance performersGoFundMe
Vikki MacWinyers and colleagues have launched a public GoFundMe fundraiser to help freelance performers

The government’s recently announced plan to pay up to 80 per cent of workers who faced being laid off has been slammed for failing freelancers.

After Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday revealed a commitment to provide a temporary bailout to businesses affected by the fallout from COVID-19 quarantine measures, many have criticised the plans as failing to provide financial support to millions of self-employed Britons whose incomes have also been hit due to coronavirus.

Some MPs have warned that the Chancellor’s plan does nothing to help freelancers, contractors and the self-employed.

While, experts have warned that assessing the incomes of self-employed people who are outside the PAYE system would be difficult, the Shadow Environment Secretary Luke Pollard urged the government to increase statutory sick pay and give more support for the five million self-employed in the UK.


You can donate to or find out more about the Emergency Fund for Freelance Performers here.


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