Q & A With ArtsReady General Manager Andrew Murray
We caught up with ArtsReady’s General Manager, Andrew Murray, to discuss the impact COVID-19 has had on the arts and creative industries, the way our ArtsReady trainees have successfully adapted to the current situation and the new exciting opportunities the program has to offer with Creative Victoria.
How has the COVID-19 situation impacted the arts and creative industries?
The arts and creative industries have been impacted in the worst kind of way and only now, in the past week, am I seeing the language change from a sense of hopelessness to one of hope. The arts sector, in particular, has been almost crushed through this. Shows canceled from March onwards are not likely to return in their previous form for some time. Most of the organisations I deal with in the performing arts are gearing up for some activity over the coming months, with audience shows in October and beyond but they won’t be the same.
You can’t put a show on with 10 people, at least with the various theatres and performing arts centres I deal with. Performers keeping their distance while an audience has a 1.5 metre spacing, is going to have a real impact. I mean, we’re talking about reducing their seating capacity by at least two thirds. That’s just crazy stuff and the costs of the show can be huge and viability comes into question while trying to bring in performers to smaller audiences, for less money.
How have our arts trainees been affected?
ArtsReady trainees have been the true stars in this period, they want the work experience, they want the education and most of all they want to succeed in the industry. Adapting to a work at home environment for them has not been easy and many have been busy finishing their education units and doing reduced workloads.
What are some of the positives you have seen in your role come out of this situation?
Most people that know me, see me as a “can do” and “positive” person. I’m not shy in coming forwards and I’m always up for a challenge on the hard street. It’s the nature of what I do and rejection is part of the game. Not everyone has to like my trivia nights on Zoom on a Friday but I can say that audience participation is getting bigger and better each week! OK so stand-up comedy may not be for me but it’s not always on Zoom!
Seriously though, I’m luckier than most to be running the awesome ArtsReady Program and to work for an organisation that goes out of its way to give many young people a start. I’m also proud that a big part of my role makes an impact on many young Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander Peoples livelihoods and sets up a pathway for them into the arts and creative industries.
I believe we’ll see a lot more growth in the program to do with roles that require better use of technology and right now we have a generation of young people that are digital people. We have all now become accustomed with video meetings, online presentations and doing coursework and education sessions online.
Schools are an obvious area that will only grow in its need for more Information, Digital Media and Technology trainees in areas for support, networking and administration. This has accelerated a trajectory that may have taken another 3 to 5 years to get to and it’s based on that ‘old school’ thing called “supply and demand”.
How has the ArtsReady program adapted to the new times
The ArtsReady Program has always been adapting from the time it was launched, so the team are not unaccustomed to new ways of doing things. I’m lucky I work with creative people like our marketing, comms and business development team every day. Our State teams all work pretty hard on the program and are always discussing ideas with me.
ArtsReady has some great relationships with the Federal and State Government around the country and it’s a real testimonial to the body of outstanding work by many of our team and our host employer partners but most of all our incredible trainees. I guess as a result of that we have been able to explore a few new horizons that it has been involved with over the past couple of years that are now coming to fruition.
They all relate to helping young people find their way, get a start, stay on their journey and we mentor them along the way, as they become part of our ArtsReady and AFL SportsReady family. Wellbeing is one of those projects with the University of Melbourne and the other is the First Peoples traineeship program with Creative Victoria. Both are early days in their delivery but that hasn’t stopped us talking about how good they are and don’t just believe me…check out these links below:
Measuring The Wellbeing Of Students In The Art Academies
Creative Victoria Roles
DATE: 14th May 2020
IMAGE: Andrew Murray with ArtsReady graduate Tamara Kaul.