We partnered with MAKE Manifesto, in the custodianship of Panel an independent curatorial practice, to support makers / craftspeople / designer makers in Scotland navigate, understand and access financial information during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As partners, we had a shared vision to provide the Scottish craft sector and makers with finance support in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and through our positions in the craft sector were able to bring together our networks, skills and experience of supporting makers to devise and deliver MAKE | Support, a programme of resources, advice sessions, commissions and micro-grants from April – June 2020. The activity was delivered in association with Craft Scotland.
A summary of the co-produced activity and its immediate impact:
A regularly updated online finance guide co-authored with accountant John O’Neill of The O’Neill Partnership providing information about UK and Scottish Government support and how to navigate it, plus funding and support specifically for the creative industries and arts.
Published on 27 April 2020, and last updated on 9 July 2020, the guide (all updated versions) had 900 downloads.
An additional output was the Finance Advice for the Craft Sector during Covid-19. Published on 29 May 2020 the document had 404 downloads.
Two group Zoom sessions facilitated by AAS and accountant John O’Neill to provide support, advice and an opportunity for Q&A for firstly small organisations, and secondly self-employed makers taking the finance guide as a foundation.
‘Finance for Small Craft Organisations during the Covid-19 Crisis’, Wednesday 6 May 2020
13 registered to attend, with 9 attending (3 Limited Companies, 2 Not-for-Profit Companies, 1 Social Enterprise, 1 Charity, 1 Unincorporated Association, 1 Self-Employed), representing furniture, jewellery and silversmithing, glass disciplines, arts development and creative marketing.
‘Finance for Self-Employed Makers during the Covid-19 Crisis’, Thursday 14 May 2020
54 registered to attend, with 37 attending (32 Self-Employed (began trading in or before 2018/2019 tax year), 3 Self-Employed (began trading in 2019/2020 or 2020/2021 tax years, 2 Other (no details provided)), representing ceramics, jewellery, textiles / fibre arts (weave, print, spinning, knit, embroidery, interiors), bookbinding disciplines and retail.
‘It was really valuable, gave me a sense of validity in the shared challenges, confidence in my work, and also new knowledge in areas to explore for survival.’
‘Yes. The group session was so helpful and informative. All of the advice was clear, and it was great to be able to have an actual conversation and get questions answered. After very little clarity from HMRC it was great to hear other people who were in a similar situation and get advice on how to proceed.’
‘It was great to hear about the process of applying for funding and to get some helpful guidance. I’ve never even considered applying for funding before but due to the current situation it became necessary and now I feel much better equipped to apply for future projects.’
Six £250 micro-grants for makers in Scotland via Visual Arts Scotland’s Emergency Art Workers Support Fund (second round) awarded in May 2020 as a result of AAS’s and MAKE Manifesto’s £1,500 donation to the fund.
Due to the responsive nature of the activity, immediacy of delivery to support the sector and at that stage unknown future, we did not measure impact of this activity in the medium- to long-term. However, AAS actively signposted members to partake in sector surveys whether for Scotland or UK and whether specifically for the craft sector or the wider creative industries (e.g. Craft Scotland, Culture Counts, Scottish Contemporary Art Network, Scottish Artists Union, Crafts Council UK, Heritage Crafts Association, The Goldsmiths Company, Creative Industries Federation) to inform future support.
Due to the MAKE | Support activities focussing on financial support in response to a global health pandemic and therefore uncertainty, common themes identified at the events and in subsequent conversations were business sustainability, in line with AAS’s three themes of collaboration, sustainability and identity, specifically economic. Following the very focussed, contained and time limited activity, AAS identified development opportunities including hosting an event focussed on benefits and tax credits for makers in the context of financial support and planning. In response AAS partnered with the Scottish Artists Union to provide the Benefits & Finance for Artists online course in two parts ‘Benefits & navigating the social security system’ and ‘Finance for freelancers’ (July 2020) and are raising awareness of and signposting to crafttoolkit.com, an online toolkit supporting makers to identify, understand and action the creative and professional development of their craft businesses, to support the longer-term support of businesses and sustained practice.