The nation is home to 50,000 professional artists and 600,000 workers in the creative industry.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures reveal the number of jobs in the sector have plummeted by more than 18 per cent since mid-March.

But most of the arts sector’s more than 193,000 workers were not eligible for the federal government’s JobKeeper payments, despite being defined as sole traders.

Researchers at the Grattan Institute have estimated up to 26 per cent of the Australian workforce are likely to lose their jobs due to pandemic shutdowns and restrictions – but this rises to 75 per cent for those employed in the creative and performing arts.

Theatres, galleries, arts centres, concert halls, cinemas and festivals have closed.

Film production has ceased.

Rehearsing for the next season has stopped.

How long this will go on, no one knows.

Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV) has launched a new initiative to support artists during this difficult time and reflect on how isolation is affecting us.

For some, home is a safe space; for others, it’s dangerous.

For most of us now, home is a place of isolation, uncertainty, challenge, or even crisis.

MAV’s new initiative, called ‘Shelter’, will create a paid opportunity of $500 each to 40 Victorian culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) artists and creatives of colour across the art forms of writing, digital visual arts and music, to create new works that can be shared on MAV’s website and social media platforms.

CEO Veronica Pardo said that through this new program, MAV is responding to the unprecedented loss of income for artists creating a quick response commissions program.

“Shelter will resource CALD and artists of colour to do what they do best, reflect critically on this moment in time and the world around us,” she said.

“We hope it can be the first of many.

“MAV is concerned about compounding disadvantage for vulnerable communities and is using our advocacy efforts to raise the need for targeted support with all governments.”

As well as supporting artists, the initiative will create a space for dialogue and knowledge production with new story, song, sound, imagery and ideas that may guide and nourish us all as we navigate physical and mental spaces of not knowing, reframe our relationships to home and each other, and seek new meaning and ways of being both during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

Artists can submit an expression of interest until the deadline on May 22, 2020.

Successful applicants will be randomly selected from amongst all who have successfully addressed the eligibility criteria and announced on June 5.

The winning works will be released on MAV’s website and social media from July to September 2020.

For more information or to submit an expression of interest, head to MAV’s website.