Evan’s Corner: 2020 in Review and moving into 2021

Written by: Evan Lowenstein
Since we are well into the 2021, I feel some optimism that there is a sense that the economy and life in general is improving.
The improved general outlook is evidenced by growing consumer confidence and a great sense of relief that we are almost but not quite on the other side of this COVID-19 pandemic.
Evidenced by decreasing community transmission of COVID-19 and a realisation that we are on track out of the pandemic compared with any other country in the world, we should recover both economically and with positive health outcomes.
Many economists have said that COVID-19 is a stress test on a country’s health and economy and Australia has, albeit with certain issues around Victoria, done very, very well which is a tribute to the Federal government’s leadership on both assistance measures and health outcomes.
In Australia there is much evidence that consumer spending has improved, almost to pre-pandemic levels in some sectors, so hopefully this trend will continue to improve.
Last year the way forward was not looking so positive however, there were glimpses of optimism.
There still seems to be a feeling that artists as artists have always led a rather solitary existence and so it was no great difference for them to work alone during lockdown whilst the financial assistance packages provided some support for them.
Whilst galleries were unable to be open for most of 2020, there was a large amount of market pivot to online sales and some galleries did quite well from that marketing.
From a personal point of view, the initial terror about what devastation may be at hand was replaced by a quiet determination to try and do the best for our clients, many of whom were in desperate need for the assistance and guidance on issues about which we all had little or no prior knowledge. It could be said that we all learnt things together through the pandemic, governments included.
Lowensteins’ effort can be demonstrated by our email campaign that we believe contributed to navigating our clients well through the myriad of available grants, packages and assistance.
The financial assistance package for the arts was a welcome initiative but I haven’t yet heard if any funds have yet been released which, if true, is a disappointing outcome.
It is also great to see that many of our performing artist clients had much success with the move to digital with great initiatives such as the MDCH (Melbourne Digital Concert Hall) and YouTube performances.
Let us hope that with improved vaccination numbers and low local transmission numbers, things continue to improve throughout 2021.
I think when all the dust has settled, we will realise that as a country Australia has done well in supporting its population; and also in its support of its artists, notwithstanding the government’s periodic indifference towards the arts.