Artists around the world are suffering from the uncertainty caused by the continued spread of coronavirus. In a bid to help them carry on as the world shuts down, one artist has launched a simple pledge to encourage them to help each other.
Matthew Burrows started the Artist Support Pledge initiative to alleviate some of the stress the pandemic has caused, as many artists have now found themselves without work. Exhibitions and sales have been shut down, and teaching and technical support has become difficult to access. The project, which he launched on his Instagram page, “was really a response to the current situation, a creative solution to how I might help myself but also friends and colleagues through this period, by utilizing the generosity of the arts community—which is abundant,” Burrows tells Artnet News.
The idea is simple: Artists who commit to the pledge will post images of a work that’s for sale, for no more than £200 ($230), and each time their sales reach £1,000 ($1,155) they promise to buy another artist’s work for £200.
“I realized the work needed to be cheap enough to make selling it an act of generosity, but also I needed to make that infectious,” Burrows says, “generosity creates generosity.”
Matthew Burrows launched the Artist Support Pledge on Instagram.
Burrows first posted about the initiative a couple of days ago, selling his own 2012 etching, titled The Seer, and he received an “immediate response.” There are now more than 1,000 posts, which he hopes to translate into 1,000 pledges. “That’s £1 million flowing into the hands of artists, many of whom are in severe financial stress. It’s an ambitious target but easily achievable if people act generously and people get really great art out of this.”
Burrows has since been able to launch an award to encourage people to support the initiative. The Tyson Award, supported by another artist, Keith Tyson, will grant £200 to five artists to spend toward completing their own pledges. The award will be made weekly for five weeks, with the artists chosen by a guest selector. The first selector is the director of Hastings Contemporary, Elizabeth Gilmore, who will choose a round of artists on March 21. Future selectors include the artist Matthew Collings, and the director of Vigo Gallery, Toby Clarke. Burrows is currently looking for more contributions to extend the award through the end of the pandemic. “Watch this space,” he says.