As it became clear just how long the pandemic might go on, we knew the fund would need to provide some financial security for artists. Firstly, so they could just breathe and take stock. But also, so they could be at the forefront when society reopened, coming back with fresh approaches and new creative energy.
The resulting Live Work Fund was designed to help prevent exceptional talent of all backgrounds abandoning the development of their practice due to the pandemic and create the space for reflection and experimentation. The Live Work Fund is a deliberate play on words – ‘live’ as in live performance, but also ‘live’ as in the funds people need to live on. Essentially, it’s core funding but for individuals, rather than organisations.
The other funders had told us from the start that they were keen to be hands off, but would be there whenever they were needed. This strong sense of trust allowed us to move things along very quickly. We had the fund set up and distributed in less than six months.
We’re now supporting 33 exceptional individuals over 12 months with awards of £20,000 to adapt their approach to making and sharing live work. They include performers, makers, producers, composers, poets, sound artists and musicians of all kinds, from a string quartet to a grime artist.
I’d love to work in collaboration like this again, bringing together funders to act quickly and decisively on a shared mission. We spend a lot of time trying to stand out and differentiate ourselves. Yes, there’s huge value in having a diversity of funders with different aims and ways of doing things. But there's also something really valuable about funders recognising where we do align and have a shared interest or ambition. That might be around a specific art form or a specific way of funding organisations or individuals.
The Live Work Fund has shown me that there’s a lot to be achieved by collaborating flexibly with organisations that, on paper, may not look like an obvious fit.
This article was originally published in the May 2021 issue of Trust & Foundation News, the quarterly magazine for Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) members. Find out more about ACF membership.