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Despite the gradual ease of lockdown restrictions across Australia, with cafes and pubs reopening under strict new guidelines, the creative industries are still, for the most part, closed until further notice.
Cinemas, theatres, museums and galleries haven't been in operation since March 22, further straining the financial situation of thousands of creative industry workers who have yet to receive government assistance.
Although cinemas will be able to open in some states as early as June 8, with a slower reopening slated for museums, theatres and galleries, much of the damage has already been done.
In these uncertain times, creatives have managed to see the silver lining in their current predicament, with photographers Rhys Tattersall and Jona Grey using their waining work schedules to upskill or focus on other creative endeavours.
As a photographer who predominantly works for the travel industry, Grey was almost immediately relegated to contract work from a full-time position, while Tattersall's workload came to a screeching halt following the lockdowns.
Their current situation is hardly sustainable long-term, and, seeing as arts has been hit the hardest by COVID-19, with a mere 47% of the industry still in partial operation, there are things that we as consumers of art can do to help get Australia's cultural hub get back on its feet (without necessarily having to provide monetary assistance).
"The best thing anyone can do is obviously to support local, to which I’m probably repeating what has been said by so many other people," Tattersall explains. "Most of the time someone might feel pressured to buy something to support local or support your mate, - it doesn’t have to be the case though.
"A simple share or link to your friends' art or website goes a long way. While buying something is one way to support artists, it’s not always realistic," he suggests.
"Sometimes a simple share or recommendation by word of mouth means just as much to me. I’d say this is relevant both during and post-pandemic - it’s a good way to continue to support creatives if you’re not in a position to purchase their work."
It's true that most other industries are not exactly thriving through the pandemic, so urging those who may also be struggling financially to open their wallets would be incredibly short-sighted.
Grey echoes Tattersall's sentiment around word of mouth being the superior alternative: "This goes for a lot of industries but word of mouth is such an underrated tool. An easy way to support photographers (and creatives in general) is by sharing their work and recommending them - my biggest clients have come through recommendation."
It's a two-way street in many ways, as businesses will also be feeling the financial pressure and will likely be looking to cut down on advertising to help ride this pandemic out. So, Grey recommends working together - artists and brands - to come to an agreement that will financially benefit both parties involved.
"Businesses in need of marketing collateral (especially during and post-covid) can reach out to local photographers, designers and videographers," Grey explains.
"Brands can state their budget, however modest, and the creative should be able to let them know what they can offer. Some deals can even be made via an exchange of goods."
Of course, if you do have the means, there are purchases you can make - such as online courses - that will help you upskill while also sending some coin the artists' way in the process.
"Consumers can support their favourite creators by buy purchasing prints, digital products like presets and online courses," Grey offers.