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Citizens can donate directly to artists through new fund

10:00 10/05/2020
From Flanders Today

way of giving money directly to artists and other creative people struggling because of the coronavirus crisis has been set up by the artist support network State of the Arts. State of Solidarity Relief matches calls for help with pledges of money, and then connects the two so that gifts can be made on an individual basis.

Over two weeks of testing prior to its official launch this week, SOS Relief received requests for help totalling €30,000, for which it collected €8,000. The donations are intended to address the immediate needs of people who are not otherwise eligible for public support.

Donors indicate how much they are willing to give – from €50 up to €400 – and the platform matches this with an appeal from someone seeking the same amount. It then sends the potential donor the bank details of the person in need, and the payment is made directly.

The result is a direct expression of solidarity between individuals, without an intermediary. Requests can only be made once, but donors can give money as many times as they like.

There are no conditions, and no need for those requesting help to explain their circumstances. “We believe in trusting that if people ask for cash now, then they need it now,” said State of the Arts. “We’re not going to lose time doubting motives and playing detective.”

However, people can tell their stories if they want to. Examples given on the platform include some who are looking for help to continue their projects, but most have more fundamental needs. Landlords are not keen to wait for payments, while savings have quickly disappeared.

One dancer, whose performances have all been cancelled, explains that they are working on a farm for a little extra money, but this does not cover food and rent. Another dancer, who also teaches, says that lessons and performances alike have ended. “I really hope some of these projects will be able to continue in 2021, but for now everything is very insecure.”

Some of those in need are students or recent graduates who have yet to establish themselves in the cultural sector and so cannot claim benefits due to artists or freelancers. Others explain the double hardship of losing both their creative income and money from other jobs that usually allows them to make ends meet.

A few donors have also explained why they are giving. Several say they feel lucky to have kept their incomes during the crisis and so want to help others who are less fortunate.

Another says they are giving money that would otherwise have gone to concert tickets and other entertainment during the lockdown. And one simply states: “Helping others in need, because I have been in need and been helped before.”

Image: ©Praneat/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Written by Ian Mundell (Flanders Today)