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Melbourne’s laneways become art galleries

The project is helping support young creators hit hard by the pandemic

A new program turning Melbourne laneways into new public art attractions has been created to support young local artists struggling throughout the pandemic.

The Victorian Government partnered with the City of Melbourne to transform 40 laneways across the city into outdoor art galleries with the help of 150 creative professionals.

Minister for Employment Jaala Pulford says the program has had a positive impact on both the arts sector and the wider community.

“Victoria has so many incredible artists and we’re thrilled to have created jobs for 150 of them that has also added magnificent colour and life for our city laneways,” she said.

The initiative is supported by the government’s $500 million Working for Victoria Fund which has been part of the state’s jobseeker program since the beginning of the pandemic.

Originating from the initial $1.7 billion Economic Survival Package launched in March last year, the fund was previously set aside for jobs in areas like health care, food services, community services and maintenance.

However, support has been extended to the music and arts sector, which has been one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic with many people being systematically put out of work.

Due to ongoing lockdowns and restrictions, much of the local creative sector has been shut down following the closure of studios, educational facilities and art galleries.

Young artists, Shawn Lu has been working on some of the art projects and says the paid work has been a boost for his mental health and has “helped [him] get back on [his] feet”.

“My normal sales and income that came from murals or commissioned artwork had completely disappeared overnight, so this initiative has been a lifesaver, and I’m not the only artist to say that,” he said.

In a study, Creative Victoria found that 82 percent of young people have had their ability to create, work and study in the creative industries significantly impacted by COVID-19. Some of the biggest impacts amongst young creators were fewer opportunities to collaborate with other artists, work or education temporarily closed and closure of presentation events.

The current Victorian roadmap will see outdoor creative studios open to only fully vaccinated people once Victorians reaches 70 percent vaccination rates.

“We’re doing everything we can to bring people into the city safely as restrictions ease, and what better way than by transforming the city into an outdoor art gallery,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.



Photo: Hosier Lane Melbourne Australia by AFP is available HERE and is used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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