Six Warrnambool artists have received a vital economic boost from the Victorian government as the sector continues to suffer amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The F Project president Gareth Colliton received $5000 from the Sustaining Creative Workers grants to develop his graphic novel while the not-for-profit gallery received $10,000 to evolve their digital exhibitions into virtual reality experiences.
Colliton said there was "no doubt" the arts sector had dramatically changed in the past months but some artists were thriving.
"There has been some really unexpected but, in hindsight, logical outcomes as a result of COVID-19," he said.
"One of those is as people are renovating their homes, they're buying art and some people have boomed, but that's not to say every artist has had that experience.
"The uptake of technology has been fast-tracked with people connecting through Zoom and using QR codes."
In 2018 the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research in the Department of Communications found cultural and creative activity contributed $111.7 billion to Australia's gross domestic product in 2016-17, or 6.4 per cent. The research also found the federal government only contributed 0.22 per cent of its budget in 2017.
To ensure the survival of the sector which contributed contributed $31 billion annually to the Victorian economy prior to the pandemic, Colliton suggests a strategic plan to support creatives.
"We need an evaluation of the impact the arts has and what that does for the community," he said.
"So much of the arts impact is invisible but it constructs who we are.
Imagine your world without the arts; first of all you'd get up and they'd be no bed, you'd have no clothes and there would be no films, TV or music to entertain you. What would you do all day?Gareth Colliton
"We take the arts for granted and now we to measure and value the arts and put in long-term investments.
"The arts puts in billions into Australia's GDP and it's just been stripped and stripped of funding."
Warrnambool artist Harley Manifold received $5000 in funding from the grants program to create more affordable products and expand his marketing.
Despite having three exhibitions cancelled due to the pandemic, Manifold had seen his sales boom.
"I feel like the art sector is split in two at the moment; some artists are thriving while others who didn't have an online presence are struggling," he said.
"People have been buying my work before it's finished and those who have always wanted one are buying up. Who knows what will happen when the JobKeeper and JobSeeker end, are people able to buy our art on their own means?"
Manifold said more constructive funding like the Sustaining Creative Workers grants was needed for the arts sector to enable its survival.
"The sector absolutely needs more government funding," he said.
Now is the time to teach artists to be independent, online resources and how to generate content.Harley Manifold
"My feeling is we need to give money, with the impetus to grow rather than continue as they are. Pivoting is the crux of surviving this."
Steven Conte, Matthew Clarke, Melissa Dance and Yaraan Bundle were all successful in receiving the Sustaining Creative Workers grants which was delivered in partnership with Regional Arts Victoria and Arts Access Victoria.
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