When the COVID-19 outbreak hit, the arts industry in WA and around the world took a big blow. At the end of March, as the restrictions started to bite, just 47 per cent of arts businesses were actively operating. By the end of May, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed almost a quarter of all jobs had been lost in WA’s arts and recreation services sector. That was around the time the Advertiser spoke with Anne Sorenson, the artistic director of Albany-based Southern Edge Arts. Ms Sorensen said that like the entire arts industry, her organisation was facing a crisis. The 35-year-old organisation had been forced to let go of staff, cancel classes for its 150 students and postpone productions until social distancing restrictions were lifted. The Advertiser’s old arts section, Agenda, was pulled because there were no gigs or exhibitions to cover and running movie reviews seemed pointless when the cinemas were closed. Now, as things start to move towards normality, we are relaunching a bigger and better weekly guide to all things, art, film, theatre, music and culture to keep you in the loop with what’s happening in the Great Southern creative space. In the pages of Inspire, we hope to inform, involve and positively influence our community. The aim is in the name. Pick up your copy of the paper each Thursday to find out what’s on around town, as public events slowly return to our venues. This week’s edition of What’s On is very sparsely populated, but it will fill up after WA enters Phase 5 of the COVID-19 recovery. So if you know of anything on the horizon, get in touch with us. Each week, we will catch up with a creator, delve into their work and discover what inspires them. For the first edition, I spoke to local encaustic wax painter Annie Johnson who uses beeswax, damar resin and paint pigment to create her unique pieces. Annie touched on the impact COVID-19 has had on her as an artist and how she had to adapt. As a member of the Make A Scene Artist Collective, Annie and a group of 25 others would normally hold a pop-up shop on York Street to sell their work to the public. COVID-19 put a stop to this, forcing artists to shift their business online in the hope of still reaching potential buyers. That mass shift online to open up new markets will be a legacy of the pandemic. In addition to creator profiles and arts and culture coverage, we will bring you a weekly recipe to get your culinary cogs ticking over. Alongside the recipe you will find a review, sometimes of a movie, and at other times a book or stage show. As the creative industries climb back to their feet, I look forward to providing Albany with an in-depth and engaging art and culture fix.