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Struggling Scottish artists facing ‘real hardship’

CORONAVIRUS could be the “final straw” for thousands of artists in Scotland who were already struggling to make ends meet before the outbreak, a union warned today. 

Many artists are falling through the cracks of the government’s provisions during the lockdown as they are not eligible for welfare benefits, small business grants or furlough payments, Scottish Artists Union (SAU) said. 

This has left many of them facing “real hardship,” seeing their incomes collapse while still having to pay rent for their homes as well as studio spaces. 

SAU president Lynda Graham said that the lockdown has resulted in the closure of galleries and cancellation of projects and workshops, drying up many artists’ income for the rest of the year. 

Eighty-one per cent of the union’s members earn less than £10,000 a year from their art and supplement their income with other part-time work, she said. 

This exempts them from being entitled to the government’s self-employment income support scheme which doesn’t account for those who are in both employed and self-employed work. 

“One of the big concerns is that Covid-19 could be the final straw for many artists who are already finding it hard enough to pay the bills,” Ms Graham said. 

Scottish artist and SAU member Claire Barclay said that many artists were also anxious about the long-term effects of the pandemic on their ability to work with galleries and projects in the future. 

“If these were to be threatened or diminished, it could be devastating,” she said. 

To help struggling artists, Ms Graham stressed that the British government must lift the restrictions “that discriminate against this very vulnerable section of the workforce.” 

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