There is a dearth of qualitative research exploring how freelancers working in the cultural industries have been affected during COVID-19. In particular, there is a lack of research exploring how socioeconomic and psychosocial adversities may have changed or evolved, and how these changes have been perceived and subjectively experienced by freelance cultural workers. This study builds on qualitative interviews carried out in July–November 2020 (n = 20) by exploring findings from follow-up interviews conducted in May–July 2021 (n = 16). It presents an inequality of experiences connected to a range of socioeconomic and psychosocial factors, showing how some freelancers experienced small changes (e.g. to the kind of work carried out), with others experiencing major changes (e.g. leaving the sector completely). It concludes with a call for highly bespoke financial and psychological support, as well as a need to rethink what cultural value is for this workforce in the “new normal”, considering changing valuing processes.


This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Warran, K., May, T., Fancourt, D. & Burton, A. 2022, 'Understanding changes to perceived socioeconomic and psychosocial adversities during COVID-19 for UK freelance cultural workers', Cultural Trends. https://doi.org/10.1080/09548963.2022.2082270

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Last updated: 26 August 2022
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