Local Insights – Launceston, TAS
Located on palawa country in north-east Tasmania, Launceston boasts a vibrant community, an edgy arts scene, and like much of Tasmania, a striking landscape. We have been speaking with locals about the impacts of COVID-19 and have discovered a pragmatism that is at once beautiful and heartbreaking.
RAA: What do you miss?
Grace Roberts (IO Performance): We miss the sense of community you get when performing and working with an ensemble. There's nothing like a room full of passionate and inspired artists coming together to create something special.
Sonja Hindrum (Artist Website): The thing I have missed the most with physical distancing are the moments of incidental conversations. The conversations at intermission as you discuss the performance so far or the spontaneous conversations with work colleagues or the conversations you have as you wait in a cue for a coffee. Oh and festivals, galleries, hugs, live theatre, live music …
RAA: What do you need?
Grace Roberts: At this current stage, without being able to recommence daily business, we are funding the venue costs ourselves. This is putting financial strain on us as individuals, as you can imagine. We understand the need for things to gradually open up again, and are in no hurry to rush back to business as usual, however, our venue is still sitting empty and costing us money.
Sonja Hindrum: After the initial rearranging of studios and workspaces so that most things can be achieved from home (which was exhausting and overwhelming), there is nothing that I need. I have taken the approach of “make do”. It is not that I have given up, but that I need to survive. If I work with what I have, then I am making decisions that I can control. If I start to think about what I need, then I start to want what may not be achievable or attainable, or for what is beyond immediate change and this makes me sad.
I have my health, I have shelter, I have food, and I am creative.
I wish that artists had more respect from the wider community, I wish that the creatives that make our vibrant cultural landscape had been acknowledged and supported financially in the same way that other industries are.
RAA: What does a vibrant cultural landscape in your region of Australia look like?
Grace Roberts: Launceston is bursting with arts and community vibe at all times of the year. With several theatre companies producing regular and high quality productions, to large scale arts festivals such as MOFO and Junction Arts Festival. It is very sad to see everything on hold until it is safe to reopen again, but we are all using this time to appreciate what we had before and will value everything so much more when things go back to normal.
Sonja Hindrum: I live in a place that has the highest percentage of creatives in Australia. We have festivals large and small that celebrate music, art, theatre, food and community. Our galleries celebrate their artists with vibrant and social openings. Our artists are also able to experiment in artist run initiatives. Creatives are often across different groups, such as professional practice and community mentoring programs, sharing skills and learning from each other. There are egos and insecurities that do ruffle feathers, but generosity and kindness often prevail.