Adapting: Art in the time of Coronavirus, is a series of case studies that provide insight into the personal experiences of our grantee community and the effect COVID-19 has had on their professional development plans, creative practice and personal wellbeing.
West Australian contemporary musician Emily Jane Read’s work seeks to amplify the voices of marginalised people. Emily was awarded a Cultural Trust grant to undertake training at recording studio Hyperballad Music in New York, and attend the SXSW 2020 conference in Austin. Upon her return to Australia Emily planned to run two workshops for other emerging creatives, through Women in Music Production Perth and New Noise, a West Australian Music initiative.
Emily’s development project was interrupted mid-way, with the onset of COVID-19 in the United States. SXSW 2020 was cancelled, and Hyperballad Music closed 20 days before the end of her project.
“I was just starting to be taken seriously and being given more responsibilities, learning the vital technical knowledge to share in the workshops upon my return and build a career in music.”
Unable to run the planned workshops upon her premature return to Australia, Emily’s career progression faced further disruption in the form of social distancing and travel restrictions.
“One of the biggest factors that has affected me as an artist during this pandemic is the fear of the unknown. The financial uncertainty of being an artist in Australia already poses problems, so with the closure of event spaces and inability to travel, the impact is great.”
“The lasting effects have been the loss of funds and job opportunities, which has led to an inability to focus productively, and negatively affected my general wellbeing.” Witnessing injustices in the communities Emily seeks to support through her work has further added to the strain.
“It has been extremely distressing to see the death rate of COVID-19 and the pandemic, in general, has more significantly affected Bla(c)k, Indigenous and communities of colour, further exacerbating existing income and healthcare inequalities. Systemic racism, the multiple murders of Black people by police and people of authority and Black deaths in custody in Australia has added to the strain on my mental health.”
Emily is currently launching an online radio station that will elevate the voices of marginalised communities and has begun working with Making Noise teaching DJ skills to people living with disability. She is currently training to audition for Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts to study the Diploma in Contemporary Music (Voice) in 2021.
Interviewed in 2020.