Coronavirus crisis: WA artists hit hard by COVID-19 to share in $1.5m support package

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Josh ZimmermanThe West Australian
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VideoVictorian schools will return tomorrow - as the toughest lockdown restrictions in the country begin to ease.

Western Australian artists will share in a $1.5 million coronavirus support package which includes an acquisition program and the creation of an archive featuring prominent living WA creatives.

Through funding from the Art Gallery of WA Foundation, the new initiative will provide support for living West Australian artists represented in the State Art Collection and Aboriginal art centres across the State.

Announcing the cash injection at the AGWA this morning, Culture and Arts Minister David Templeman said people working in creative industries had been especially hard hit by COVID-19.

Aboriginal artists in particular, who rely heavily on visitors travelling to regional arts centres, have seen their incomes all but disappear as a result of travel bans.

Each living artist who has a piece of work in the state collection will be handed $2000, with the funding expected to help them update and expand their artist biographies, including moving them online.

Just over half a million dollars will be used to buy existing art works from 15 independent Aboriginal artists and 25 indigenous arts centres.

“This is of course not only an investment in the magnificent wealth of talent that we have through our indigenous artists across Western Australia but it's also an investment to ensure that they can continue to produce works of magnificent quality,” Mr Templeman said.

Warwick Hemsley, chairman of the Art Gallery of WA Foundation said expanding the Aboriginal art collection was “core business”.

Aboriginal Art Centre Hub of WA chief executive Chad Creighton said the COVID-19 crisis had been particularly devastating for indigenous artists.

“The exhibitions, art fairs and markets our artists rely on have been cancelled and for remote and regional artists there are almost no other opportunities for income,” Mr Creighton said.

“So this initiative will provide a much needed injection of hope for artists across the state who are facing hard times right now.”

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