BY JARROD MELMETH
A creative collective in the Hunter have released a report highlighting the impacts of COVID-19 on the arts and culture sector in the region.
The research was undertaken by the University of Newcastle and funded by the City of Newcastle through the Special Business Rate program.
The research found 71 per cent of surveyed people aged 18 to 35 felt increased isolation and loneliness while 80 per cent cited concerns about future employment, almost double that of their older counterparts.
Also concerning is 11 per cent of respondents indicated they were still fully unemployed in April 2021, which is more than double the overall Newcastle and Lake Macquarie unemployment rate.
Hunter Creative Alliance Chair Rosemarie Milsom says lack of employment stability is affecting peoples mental health.
“I think this age group its really important, I mean this would be early career, mid career artists who are just trying to get their foot in the door.
“We don’t want to lose artists. We don’t want people to walk away from their practice because of the ongoing impact of COVID-19,” Ms Milsom said.
It has been widely reported, artists were unable to apply for JobKeeper or JobSeeker as a lot of their employment is not traditional in the sense that they don’t have a direct employer or they have other lines of employment. The report highlight this issue, finding 44 per cent of artists who lost income were not eligible for government assistance.
Ms Milsom says she hopes the report will be able to be used as leverage for government support which is often overlooks the regions.
“I think the report could help raise awareness about the impact on regional areas.
“There is so much focus, justifiably so, on the metropolitan areas where the capital cities are, but I think it is really important the regions don’t get overlooked in terms of the ongoing impact of COVID-19.
“We will be making submissions to all levels of government in an effort to keep a spotlight on regional areas,” Ms Milsom said.
Artists and arts workers who are struggling are being urged to visit the Hunter Creative Alliance website for information about mental health support.