Lifeline for local artists

Kiera Brew Kuerc, Gestures, Video Still.

Four artists in the Dandenong Ranges have received Covid-19 grants to help keep them creating through the pandemic.

As part of the State Government’s Sustaining Creative Workers program, $27,000 will go towards local artists to support their activities.

Kiera Brew Kurec (Tecoma), Ruth Bunford (Belgrave), Laila Sakini (Belgrave South) and Jonnine Standish (Kallista) each received $5000 grants.

Ms Brew Kurec utilises live endurance performance, performance for video, photography and installation for her work.

She said that, like so many other artists, the pandemic had significantly impacted her practice.

“One of the main things was loss of income due to the impact on work that I do to support my arts practice, including working in arts venues and arts festivals,” Ms Brew Kurec said.

“Before the lockdowns were even announced there was a chain of work that was cancelled as well as interstate opportunities.”

Ms Brew Kurec said she would use the grant to explore ways to make her practice more sustainable for the future.

“Within my practice working in performance, the live nature of the work is quite imperative so what I’m using this grant for is to look at new ways to stage, adapt and create performance in light of changing times,” she said.

The Sustaining Creative Workers program aims to provide targeted and immediate assistance to Victorian creatives who have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s aimed towards creatives such as artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, festivals, galleries, design studios, fashion labels and more.

The grants will enable them to develop, deliver and adapt their work in a changed environment, including supporting equipment upgrades, research and development, digital initiatives and professional and business capacity building.

Prior to the pandemic, the creative industries employed 280,000 Victorians and contributed $31 billion annually to the state economy.

Ms Brew Kurec said local and emerging artists had been hit particularly hard, with many arts spaces having to close the doors.

“For a lot of people, working across the Dandenong Ranges provides a sense of community and not being able to access that during this time would be quite hard,” she said.

“I have a great concern for young artists, who are perhaps in their final year of university or their first year of university, who should be having their first experience of showing in artist-run spaces across Melbourne.

“Without that experience, they are going to have a harder time to access galleries in a wider environment.”

Monbulk MP James Merlino said the State Government was determined to help the arts sector “survive, adapt and connect with audiences during this pandemic and beyond.”

“The Sustaining Creative Workers initiative is investing in the careers of local creatives when they need it most,” he said.

“I’m pleased to announce these grants which will keep local creatives working through this tough period of restrictions, allowing them to future-proof their practice and weather the storm.”

The Sustaining Creative Workers program was delivered in partnership with Regional Arts Victoria and Arts Access Victoria.

For a full list of recipients visit creative.vic.gov.au.