Since I became a carer, I stopped doing any unpaid work as an artist, because I kept being given advice about benefits, and was defined as "unpaid" by carer's charities, despite the Human Right to earn at least NMW for work, preferably the living wage, which is what care workers earn for doing the same work for strangers.
I stopped applying for funding that I knew would be rejected, because it was too hard on my own wellbeing - see Grantium posts. When I ask people how freelance artists can get funding for arts and health projects, I'm told to apply to the Arts Council.
When I apply to the Arts Council, I get rejection emails telling me things such as "there's not enough funding", which translates as "we fund arts orgs, but you may as well starve to death".
In September, I was very pleased to have taken part in a paid online discussion about arts and mental health paid for by the Culture Health & Wellbeing Alliance. Since then, I've had no income as an artist, and my energy company, Bulb have now collapsed and decided to change my direct debit to £271 per month - where this money is coming from, I'd really like to know, because it isn't in my bank account.
Today is #CarersRightsDay, and I'm being paid £54 per week Working Tax Credits.
I need to be paid #wagesnotclaps
I still have debts from 2019 caused by the DWP making my son destitute for ten months, including the Bulb energy debt that no one is helping to clear off.
Step Change, Carers First, Citizen's Advice, NEA, none of whom seemed to help in any way. I need the debt writing off completely. I'm also told it isn't a big enough debt. But the bank seem to think reducing my overdraft is in some way useful... I'm currently relying on that to keep a roof over our heads. It's not a long term solution. I keep being told this, but how am I supposed to resolve it when I'm not being paid enough? Where are my rights?
Last year, during the pandemic, I had help from the welfare team at City Of Lincoln Council to keep it from spiralling out of control. That help has now been withdrawn.
I've tried to focus on the positive Business Revival Grant, in the hope that building from that will encourage more income to manifest, but I've applied for several other funding applications, and I'm still getting rejection emails.
I'm currently waiting for the outcome of a Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust grant for Peace Painting, and a Reinvent application to run some workshops here in Lincoln. I've just applied to Grimsby Creates Fund to run talks and workshops in NE Lincs next year. I need these to be accepted, not rejected!!
I'm not being paid to apply for funding, for the admin time, so not only are these rejections preventing me from working, they are adding further abuse to the existing abuse of carer's charities that are defining us wrongly as "unpaid", and not fighting for #wagesnotclaps.
The Creatively Minded Report Launch showcased similar projects to ones I've been doing, that are getting funded. But when I ask how artists can gain funding to run projects, I'm told to apply for Arts Council funding.
This is a problem. So I have to ask why arts orgs are getting funding, but freelance artists are not.
This is because they ask for questions, not solutions, and I'm more interested in solutions to problems, not asking constant questions to get no useful answer.
The solution here is for funders to fund freelance artists directly to run or co-produce our own projects. We can still co-produce with NHS partners or others, but the funding comes to artists first, and we can then allocate that funding appropriately, not anyone else.
So, how has my day gone today?
I submitted an Arts Council DYCP grant application for Lost Dreams.
I checked through the Sainsbury's online shopping to add a few things we need before tomorrow's delivery.
I cancelled a Bulb energy direct debit, as Bulb have gone bust, but they decided to increase my direct debit to @271.28 per month, and I do not have this level of income. No Black Friday deals on energy bills, eh?
My son had an ESA assessment this afternoon, so some time was spent making sure he was up in time for that, and then answering the call and being there while he answered their questions, in case he needed any support, as he can't do these things by himself.
A carer's group meeting with the psychiatrist has been changed, because the psychiatrist can no longer make it.
I cooked tea for us all, because my son runs out of money in the week before his ESA goes in the bank, as he doesn't have enough income, and has poor financial management. I made sure he had food in his stomach. Food bought from supermarkets, not foodbanks.