How COVID has Created a Culture of Community Support for Artists


Insta-worthy art inspired a global movement for artists

In a year when most artists’ precarious existence teetered on the edge of survival, one creative Instagram initiative has led to a movement of support for artists across the globe.

#ArtistSupportPledge is an innovative artist-led movement and network which leverages the global reach of social media platform Instagram, to generate financial support for artists who are struggling as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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X SELECTS highlights @unni.pulikkal.s selected by Caroline Worthington, Director of the Royal Society of Sculptors @royal_sculptors.

The premise of the initiative is simple. The pledge asks artists to post images of their artwork on Instagram using the hashtag #artistsupportpledge, with a sale price up to a maximum of £200. Every time an artist reaches £1,000 of sales, they pledge to buy £200 of work from other artist(s).

Bringing together a community of artists, raising awareness of their work, and helping to create financial sustainability during economic uncertainty – no-one predicted what a global phenomenon the initiative would become.

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X SELECTS highlights @m.ulmann selected by Caroline Worthington, Director of the Royal Society of Sculptors @royal_sculptors.

In early recognition of the negative impact that the pandemic would have on artists’ livelihoods, Matthew Burrow (an artist himself), set up the pledge on 16th March 2020. What was initially a UK-based initiative ended up becoming a global creative micro-economy, and within just one month of its launch, generated £15m of sales worldwide with over 72,000 posts. 

With the pledge now reaching an impressive 486,000 posts and continuing to build momentum, artists everywhere are reaping the benefits of a social media hashtag which has gone viral.

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X SELECTS highlights @suewilliamsacourt selected by Caroline Worthington, Director of the Royal Society of Sculptors @royal_sculptors.

An example of how a dark situation has led to the creation of a colourful outcome, this egalitarian micro-economy in the world of art has touched the lives of artists all across the world; from Europe, North and South America, to Australia, Russia, Taiwan, Japan and many more.

Such a spirit of mutual support and generosity is enabling artists to maintain a vital income stream at a time when most sales channels were eliminated, and ensuring their longevity in a time of global crisis.   

Matthew Burrows
Artist Support Pledge Director artist Matthew Burrows

In a press release earlier this year, Matthew said of the initiative:

It is not just an important network and survival mechanism for artists: It has become a global movement, a generous culture, and a gifted and egalitarian micro-economy, perhaps even a new economic model.

The feedback from artists and buyers taking part has been profound. It’s been really humbling, hearing how Artist Support Pledge has literally transformed the lives of so many at such a difficult time, and has helped sustain livelihoods.

Matthew Burrows has since been awarded an MBE for his creativity and innovation, and has been approached by the Crafts Council (UK), who, impressed by the simplicity and agility of the #artistsupportpledge, are interested in further accelerating the growth of the pledge and extending it out to makers of handmade crafts – a £3bn industry in the UK alone.

If the art world can lead by example in times of crisis, this, surely, is the very essence of adaptation, innovation, and global unity. 

More information please visit artistsupportpledge website.

To buy an artwork or to add your artwork, please follow this hashtag on Instagram #ArtistSupportPledge.