Working in the arts sector can be precarious at the best of times. There's a reason the word ''actor'' is so often associated with the word ''struggling'', ''artist'' with ''starving'', and ''poet'' with ''dead''.
With the rapid spread of the coronavirus, however, insecurity for those involved in the arts sector is even more apparent than usual, including locally.
In response to the coronavirus, arts organisations across Australia are cancelling everything from major shows and festivals to smaller community-based activities. Among these cancelled events are Canberra calendar fixtures such as the National Folk Festival, the Canberra International Music Festival and the Canberra Comedy Festival.
And beyond the cancellations that make headlines are many more quiet disappointments: the postponing of a book launch by an debut author, for example, or a town hall concert with months of rehearsals behind it, now unlikely to be performed.
These cancellations make sense in light of coronavirus. They're also in line with government recommendations, such as Prime Minister Scott Morrison's announcement on Wednesday that non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people had been banned.
Nevertheless, in a sector already notorious for low wages and insecure work, event cancellations are in some sense as much of an existential threat to arts workers as the pandemic itself. Income sources are drying up and there's no predicting when the sector - along with the rest of Australia - will return to business as usual.
For consort singer and soloist AJ America, who is also the artistic director of Canberra's acclaimed Luminescence Chamber Singers and Children's Choir, performance cancellations have been coming in thick and fast.
"Performers and others in the entertainment and arts industries have lost their primary income stream," America said. "We're now depending on concerts picking up again later in the year.
"But even then, there's no knowing whether the coronavirus will still be preventing concerts from going ahead - and the psychological toll of this whole upheaval is made all the more severe because of the uncertainty."
The social repercussions of cancelling arts events are also significant. While there's broad consensus among artists and facilitators that supporting social distancing is essential, many remain concerned about the impact on performers, audiences, and venues of cancelling these social events.
Poet and artist Jacqui Malins, who co-founded Canberra's Mother Tongue multilingual poetry initiative and helps organise That Poetry Thing, a regular poetry night at local cultural fixture Smith's Alternative, said keeping people safe was event organisers' priority.
Nevertheless, she emphasised that the ongoing impact of cancelling events is concerning, and that social distancing would be particularly isolating for many of older Canberrans who usually attend such arts events.
"We were reluctant to cancel events and disrupt what is a really warm, inclusive artistic community," she said. "People need social support and contact. But we also felt we couldn't justify going ahead with our events."
This was a challenging decision. Smith's Alternative hosts arts initiatives ranging from live drawing classes to book launches, local band gigs to international music acts, and open mic comedy to the ever popular ''Lunchulele'' ukulele class. Like many venues supporting the arts, its events draw an intergenerational crowd, connecting younger and older Canberrans.
For Malins, seeing such venues outlast the coronavirus is critical. "It is so important that local arts establishments are supported throughout the pandemic. I sincerely hope venues like Smith's Alternative - which is such a cultural asset for Canberra's community - will be supported over coming months to come out the other side," she said.
There's no doubt Canberra's arts sector is facing difficult times. And this has given rise to an unsettling question: to what degree will the local arts sector be a casualty of coronavirus?
The bad news is that artists, producers, managers, companies, funding partners, staff, and volunteers will all be impacted. In an industry so dependent on public engagement, this much is inevitable.
However, each of us can help mitigate the pandemic's impact on Canberra's arts sector. Buy some music by local artists, for example. Watch a live-streamed comedy show or explore a gallery's digital archives. Don't ask for a ticket refund if it's within your means. Perhaps even support local authors and independent booksellers by stockpiling as many books as you can.
The arts sector doesn't always get the largest slice of the pie, and times like these make funding pressures particularly apparent. The impact of coranavirus on Canberra's arts sector will be profound, especially considering the city's large proportion of freelance artists and casual employees. Not all organisations will have the finances to cover enforced closures and many skilled professionals will see their livelihoods shrink drastically.
Nevertheless, certain local arts executives such as Caroline Stacey, artistic director and CEO of The Street Theatre, are determined to overcome these hurdles and help foster a supportive and resilient local arts sector.
"Our artistic program will not be expressed and delivered as intended," said Stacey. "However, as in all we do, we'll be creative - and the first step in being creative is redefining what it means and takes to be 'open' in these coming months."
Stacey began last week by cancelling 22 comedy shows, and in her interview with me, she was evidently aware of the challenges lying ahead for the sector. However, she also made a point of following up with me later to emphasise her hopefulness. Her words were touching. "We cry," she said - "but then we create!"