In light of the current COVID-19 situation, I realized that we will need to find alternative ways to keep each other safe. Not only by social distancing and washing our hands, but by circulating resources in our economy. However, the issue of shame in asking for help, or displaying vulnerability in general is an obstacle that needs removing if we truly are to be communal and exercise mutual solidarity. This pandemic is hitting all artists, freelancers, researchers, sex workers, tattoo artists, djs, musicians, and practitioners HARD.
Not only have all our gigs, conferences, performances, concerts, talks, and workshops been cancelled but the impact and consequences of this crisis will reach much further. We all need to stay afloat, housed and fed. I feel we’ll need to take matters into our own hands and completely reorganise the way we deal with money in our lives, and how it is circulated.
It’s hard to know how everyone is going to cope.
Across the world most governments are taking financial care of big companies first, instead of caring for people. To be fair, the government in Germany pledged to give artists and freelancers support. However, in times of #anmeldungnotpossible, so many won’t be able to access any help. Especially those who are marginalised, either by race, nationality, legal status, ability or their profession, such as sex workers. There are plenty of immigrants and refugees in Germany that, even if an “Anmeldung” (Application) was ever possible, wouldn’t be able to access government assistance because of the sheer illegality in which they find themselves. Many of these are queer BPoC (Black and People of Colour) and gloriously beloved FLINT*s (Femme Lesbian Intersex Non-Binary Trans) of the local art and music scene.
The system here is far from perfect.
The day we had our collective peak of work cancellations I saw a post from the musical artist Lyra Pramuk. It was about solidarity, about figuring out ways to support artists, and to support each other. It got me thinking about what kind of capital I personally had that I could share. Being in a similar situation of work cancellations, I thought: Instagram followers. It’s a social capital that platform capitalism has introduced - and got us hooked on - that is not easy to monetise, however, it’s a capital that is excellent for mutual help in shared visibility.
As my @aevtarperform account has many followers, I figured the posts I do have a chance for that visibility.
I decided to then share this visibility in a more practical and helpful way. I started to compile and share PayPal/Venmo/cashapps from anyone who is affected by the work cancellations that came as consequences of this pandemic. I also suggested to do the same and re-share. I have also been campaigning for everyone to leave their PayPal/Venmo/cashapps visible on their social media profile as none of us knows exactly how the next few months will be.We are living through a situation that is truly unprecedented. I don't think there is a single government on earth that can truly contend with what is about to hit absolutely every one of us. Now is just the beginning. We are watching an unknown unfold.
Although many are in the efforts of online monetization. (Understandably).
It’s hard to know how the next few months will be or how cultural workers will sustain themselves, not even the most glamorous looking artist, nor the person running the account with the largest following, or the filter maker with the most views and impressions.
None of the work done now, online, translates into immediate money.
The smoke and mirrors of lewks thrown and popularity one sees of many people’s social media doesn’t necessarily mean their bank balance is healthy. This is why it is important that absolutely everyone shares and keeps their cashapps/PayPal etc. visible, shamelessly, and that we do not judge one another. It is also important that those who can afford to stay afloat at this time, show their support for each other’s work. Not only with likes, comments and shares. This time we need to help one another with actual money.
We'll likely be left to help one another out, with the few resources we may have left.
The compilation of addresses I started below — of people’s PayPals/Venmos/Cashapps/Patreons can be fundamental for us all to freely and easily circulate the communal economy. This is a chance to channel a flow amongst us. This event has left very, very few of us in a position of privilege. The idea to have all of our PayPals/Venmos/Cashapps/Patreons visible and available is not just a quick solution that could help only for now, it is not just for an emergency.
Thankfully there already are many people who organise a variety of efforts to financially help each other. This varies from help in filling out forms and general grant application advice, to fund-organisations such as leveler.info, which offers immediate help for those who are extremely disadvantaged by redistributing donations from people with job security to those whose work status has been impacted by covid-19. There are several other useful funds, which you can check if you click on the links in the Footnotes**. The beautiful thing of being a large community is that each of us can, from whatever privilege we may have, use our position and/or skill to help in whatever way one may see fit, interlocking our strategies and form a web of safety for everyone.
It’s important to make it clear that the intention of this is not a bail out. The expression “bail out” has a direct relationship to the idea of meritocracy. One “bails out someone” who apparently failed to stay afloat in society, feels like it’s their own fault, when it isn’t. “Bail out” makes me think of prison. People get bailed out for crimes, we committed none.
Submitting and sharing this list below is very much not a bailing out, it is an opportunity to be communal. Bailing out can’t even exist under these current circumstances. The severity of what could come our way is quite unimaginable, so why not aim at a systematic change for a circular economy post coronalypse? What is proposed here, can— at best— generate a collective movement for financial circulation. In theory that could enable us all to facilitate support for each other through mutual sustenance, by a change of system, a change of culture.
Some feel that the accounts to be made public should only be of those who are from more marginalised communities. I really would like to see absolutely everyone sharing their PayPals/Venmo/Cashapp/Patreon, even if not in extreme need. But doing it for the sake of ending the stigma for those that need help most, so that people who are in extreme need, but ashamed to ask for help, can do so.
I got so many messages from people that are absolutely shattered and have no other back up, but are embarrassed to ask for help. So many people feel this way. It’s this freaking meritocratic capitalist bullshit that makes people feel like they can’t ask for help. Like it’s embarrassing, a failure. Everyone on social media being forced to front and produce imagery of success in order to be respected, and to have money come their way. People need help and are afraid of asking bc they fear that after this crisis is over ( F*** knows when) they will be remembered as “begging”, or “if they did well they should have money stocked up so why ask”.
Keeping up appearances for survival in capitalist society is not healthy. Not now, not ever. This is not the time to judge yourself or others.
Together, we can ‘normalise’ asking for help. It’s ok to be vulnerable.
Support the artists you love, the people that inspire you, that educate you, that make your life feel better, specially the most marginalized, the BPoC, Indigenous, refugees, undocumented, Disabled, Neurodiverse, Immuno-compromised, Non-European FLINT*s and Queers.
The Instagram accounts and PayPals/Venmos/Cashapps/Patreons below were all sent to @aevtarperform’s Instagram account and published in the stories to amplify visibility. They are all in the highlights named SOLIDARITY, and SOLIDARITY II.
If you would like to add yours below, please send it to @aevtarperform on Instagram or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and leave it on display on your Instagram profile.
@alima_lee venom: @alimalee cash app $alimalee
@misterhamsome venmo @ryan-McMahon-24
- IMAGE CREDITS
Courtesy of Tato Coco, 2020.
* I don’t support PayPal’s stance on sex work, however many artists based in Europe have no other option to easily circulate economy, so also I was left with no other option.
** Useful Links: