An online poll by Museum Freelance was run between 12 and 30 November 2020 to explore the challenges faced by freelancers as a result of the COVD-19 pandemic. Museum Freelance (Museum Freelance) is an organisation that supports and champions freelancers and consultants working with museums, galleries, heritage sites, archives, and libraries in the UK. They provide a platform and opportunities for freelancers to collaborate, learn, and flourish.
350 people took part in the online survey from across the UK and the findings from freelancers working in museums, archives, galleries, and libraries, make for sobering reading. Covid-19 has had a severe impact on freelancers working in the museum, library, and heritage sector, with 78% of respondents reporting a decrease in their income between March and October 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. 53% of respondents had had one or more projects/contracts cancelled as a result of COVID-19, whilst 63% of respondents had had one or more projects/contracts postponed as a result of COVID-19.
Only 47% of respondents were eligible for grants from the government’s SEISS (Self-Employment Income Support Scheme). Consequently, 67% of respondents have had to find alternative sources of income, with many freelancers claiming Universal Credit or being forced to find a part time job out of the sector. Nearly 40% of those surveyed said that they intended to look for freelance work outside the museum, heritage, and wider cultural sector.
More positively, a third of respondents reported that they had adapted their services as a result of COVID-19, by offering training courses online or offering a new service. However, this was not possible for some types of work.
The survey did not specifically ask questions about health and wellbeing. However, the negative impact of COVID-19 on freelancers’ mental and physical health was a common theme running through the open feedback element of the survey.
The full report can be downloaded for free from here: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5b448e3b2487fd5fcddd3bbd/t/5fc7605a8f0796361579c25e/1606901851015/Impact+of+Covid-19+on+freelancers+-+Poll+results,+December+2020.pdf