Report: Artist Support Fund 2020

A coloured background, fading from pale turquoise to lime yellow. In white text it says: ARTIST SUPPORT FUND 2020 REPORT

CDS are pleased to report back on our process and learning from the Artist Support Fund, an initiative which supported artists gravely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the second half of 2020. What follows is a one page summary of the full report, which documents how this artist-led process came about, the decisions that were made, and how monies from CDS’ crowdfunder were spent. If you are a CDS Member and would like to read the full report, please email Es Morgan, Producer: Membership, at

Report Summary

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic CDS raised £11,997 through a public crowdfunder and with support from The Mayor of London’s Back to Business Fund. CDS pledged that all public donations (£6,997) would go to Members who had been ‘hardest hit’ by COVID-19 as bursaries and space hire. 

Once the money was collected, Members were asked how they felt the fund should be distributed through a survey, a Members Meeting, and through individual conversations with Staff. At a Members Meeting in September it was decided that all applicants to the fund would decide together how the money should be distributed amongst themselves in a facilitated Zoom meeting. It was acknowledged that this was not a perfect method, but was a valuable research exercise for artist-led decision making with the principle that those who stand to be impacted by a decision made, should be the ones to make it. The process would seek consensus or informed consent from all participants.

From the Survey CDS Staff identified an acute need within the Membership; 1/2 of artists had lost 75% or more of their wage and many were affected in multiple compounding ways along lines of societal inequality. It was decided that the fund would be prioritised towards those who had been gravely affected by the pandemic. Members were asked to self-select as being in need, considering how the pandemic had affected their access to funds in relation to a suggested list of priorities for support, including: disability, underlying health conditions, having no other financial support, or the effects of systemic racism/transphobia. 

18 Members applied for the fund and 14 agreed to meet with external facilitator Ali Tamlit (Resist + Renew) to decide how to split the funds. 10 Members were at the meeting and a consensus was reached that there would be three levels of support: an average amount, 20% more support, or 20% less support. This would be self-identified by each applicant and without justification. 

In December 2020 all applicants were awarded an average £305 bursary or 3.5 days space. 28% asked to receive 20% more support and 22% asked to receive 20% less. In a survey answered by 16 of the 18 recipients, 14 thought the process was fair and 15 were interested in being part of other artist-led decision making processes at CDS in the future.

Summary of learning and recommendations:

  • Members want to be included in decision making. CDS should create more opportunities for Members to allocate resources, and make decisions, including being central to the development of a CDS Code of Conduct.
  • CDS should trial two other methods of distributing resources without direct competition in the coming 18 months, including a random allocation.
  • There are many benefits to working with external facilitators, including increasing safety, trust and learning. We should provide facilitation training for Staff & Members.
  • Further research into artist-led decision making utilised in past iterations of CDS. 
  • CDS should consider for all opportunities whether individual need and systemic inequality should be considered as part of the decision making process, and how. 
  • CDS could trial the model 20% more/less model on a larger scale. CDS could also expand this to other areas of its programmes, including the cost of space hire, to benefit local community groups.

If you are a CDS Member and would like to read the full report, please email Es Morgan, Producer: Membership, at