A Bristol art charity has built a community to help artists face challenges during the pandemic and beyond.
Bricks aims to support creative communities, helping them thrive through a new support programme.
Arts Council England made £160m of emergency funding available in response to Covid-19 and Bricks received monetary support to launch support programme Reaching Resilience.
This six-month programme will support visual artists in Bristol who have been affected as a consequence of Covid-19, as well as tackling the wider systemic issues of the art sector.
“Artists in the city are struggling,” says Bricks director Jack Gibbon. “For various reasons, many haven’t been supported by the measures introduced by the Government.”
The programme will help artists to develop to their skills, learn about new opportunities and connect through a peer-to-peer network.
The programme will also connect artists to new audiences and supporters, with Jack saying: “Opportunities for artists to connect with buyers of their work, or even to present their work to an audience in Bristol are few and far between.”
Jessa Fairbrother is an independent artist on the Reaching Resilience Artist Steering Group.
She says: “Ironically, I found that being at home and travelling less has given me new ways of nurturing connections with my community. It feels like a lot of relationships are being positively redefined – I would like to keep that feeling, even when restrictions are lifted.
“More importantly, I would like to think we can make something better than what we had, as it was based on huge inequality and precariousness for many. This has to change.”
Bricks’ online platform will not only let artists connect and develop their skills, but will also promote artists and push artwork sales, helping to reduce the precarious income streams of being an artist. A digital open studio will also be held later in 2020 to boost artist profiles.
“Too often artist can find themselves living quite isolated and precarious existences, so it is good to see initiatives where artists are supporting each other for mutual benefit,” says Yuko Edward, another independent artist on the Artist Steering Group.
Jack Gibbons explains that the programme is not only a coronavirus response, but a call to change the way the art sector operates, saying: “The intention is that this program lays the foundation for a self-funding mechanism to support visual arts practice in Bristol, which will develop collaboratively and iteratively over time.”
“Wonderful projects and spaces are going to disappear,” Jessa Fairbrother adds. “But what we had was also built on a hugely unequal society. This is the time to push for the change we want to see – I hope artists are instrumental in making sense of this moment.
“I am hoping for something better.”
To apply for the Reaching Resilience June 1: www.bricksbristol.org/reaching-resilience
Main photo: Lisa Whiting