BRIGHT FUTURE? Well-known art figure in the South Burnett Olivia Everitt is hopeful the arts industry will survive the pandemic. Photo: Contributed
BRIGHT FUTURE? Well-known art figure in the South Burnett Olivia Everitt is hopeful the arts industry will survive the pandemic. Photo: Contributed

‘Slipped through cracks’: Will the arts survive crisis?

A PROMINENT art figure in the South Burnett expects the return of the creative arts scene will be significantly staggered once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Olivia Everitt said it was heartbreaking to see artists, such as performance groups and galleries, shut up shop so abruptly when the pandemic hit.

She said the future of the arts had been compromised after being left off the funding agenda.

"There's been no arts rescue or stimulus package from the federal or state government," she said.

"This has left a whole range of people who work creatively or even linked to the creative sector really vulnerable or exposed.

"The arts has really fallen through the cracks."

Despite the lack of funding for creatives, Ms Everitt has partnered up with South Burnett Arts to develop an online program to help artists in the region.

She said she hoped her background in grant writing combined with her knowledge of the arts scene would be beneficial to others.

"Art has social and economic benefits," she said.

"For example, the art galleries at Kingaroy, Wondai or Blackbutt provide a social aspect to connect with like-minded people.

Lois Vreeken, Roslyn Smith and Shan Wood (back) with Lois Hamilton and Suzanne Flintham (front) at the Kingaroy Art Gallery before social distancing was in place. Photo: Laura Blackmore
Lois Vreeken, Roslyn Smith and Shan Wood (back) with Lois Hamilton and Suzanne Flintham (front) at the Kingaroy Art Gallery before social distancing was in place. Photo: Laura Blackmore

"I came up with the idea to host Arts Hour from seeing other forums using webinars and technology to stay connected.

"If there's a silver lining from this crisis, it will be that it has opened up access to connect regional communities with other programs on a more national level," she said.

"It's also been a unique way for us to link up with people from other regions and open up the line of communication."

So far, she has hosted two sessions using Zoom, which included guest speakers such as Project Officer for CQRASN Trudie Leigo, Executive Officer from Flying Arts Alliance Kerryanne Farrer and Museum Director of New England Regional Arts Museum at Armidale Rachael Parson.

Looking forward, Ms Everitt said it would be a slow start to getting events up and running again.

"The research starting to come out says that post COVID-19 nine out of 10 art audience members will return," she said.

"I think the arts in the South Burnett is underpinned by a strong cohort of volunteers.

"A lot of the organisations rely on them to keep their doors open.

"I take my hat off to all of the wonderful volunteers in our region."

The next session of Arts Hour will be held in June with the date and time to be confirmed.

For more information visit South Burnett Arts Facebook page or Ms Everitt's website here.

South Burnett

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