The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost all aspects of social life. Huge portions of the Australian population now work from home, while social distancing policies have restricted face-to-face human contact. These changes are forcing Australians to rethink the way we navigate our social relationships, maintain meaningful social connections, and protect individual and community wellbeing during this time of pandemic crisis.

There is a rich literature linking various creative activities with wellbeing benefit; indeed, artistic creative activities such as making music, writing, dancing and crafts have been shown to be beneficial in regulating emotion, while music listening activities have been effectively used in interventions for depression.

The CACTUS project, initiated and led by CAWRI, is examining the role of creative activities in protecting wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how this role may be shaped by cultural practices.

Data collection for the project in Australia has now ceased. However, CAWRI's Argentinian colleague Hernán Ramallo is circulating a Spanish-language version of the survey. This will help the research team consider similarities and differences in the way Australians and Argentinians are using creative activities to cope with the pandemic. Future blog posts about this topic are expected soon, as the data analysis progresses and the research team is able to publish the findings. So, watch this space!

Frederic Kiernan (The University of Melbourne) is the CAWRI Research Coordinator (kiernanf@unimelb.edu.au)