Regular Olive Tree Markets may have been cancelled for the foreseeable future amid COVID-19 concerns, but market-goers shouldn’t fear. The Olive Tree team has been connecting the community with local makers for the past 12 years, and that’s exactly what they intend to continue doing.
It’s a tough time for Australia’s creative community. The coronavirus pandemic continues to impact life as we all know it, but in terms of livelihood, makers, designers and creators have been among the hardest hit. Since its inception in 2008, the Olive Tree Market has been a key event for many creatives and vendors to sell their wares. Showcasing artwork, fashion, jewellery, homewares and artisan food, hundreds of stallholders gather each month in Civic Park (as well as every few months at the Maitland Regional Art Gallery). The market has become a staple in the calendars of thousands of Novocastrians, all keen to support small local business and spend the first Saturday of each month strolling the stalls.
As such, the decision to cancel the planned April 4th market wasn’t one the Olive Tree team took lightly. But as the coronavirus situation worsened and the government recommended cancellation of nonessential outdoor events with 500+ people, it was the right thing to do. “The health and safety of our stallholder community, wonderful visitors and customers is our first and foremost priority,” said Olive Tree founder, Justine Gaudry, in a message to market-goers in March.
At the time of writing, even stricter guidelines are about to come into play, with shutdown measures throughout NSW aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. This means markets are postponed until further notice, which will have a significant impact
on the many creatives whose livelihoods depend on events like these. But in the absence of physical markets, the Olive Tree team has pledged to seek out opportunities to support local makers through this challenging period – and they encourage you to do the same.
“In these uncertain times, we all need to come together and support each other where we can. If you have the ability to support your local creative community, we encourage you to do so,” Justine says.
“Many of our community have online businesses and stores, which means that you are able to shop from home, and have beautiful work arrive by mail. If you have the ability to have food stalls provide catering for your business or small event, this would also be incredibly helpful.”
Scroll through the Olive Tree Market social channels, and you’ll find posts shouting out all kinds of makers from the local creative community. The team plans to post frequently about its regular stallholders in the coming weeks, complete with links to help you shop online and continue your support of small business while social distancing measures are in place. There’s even talk of setting up some form of a centralised online store to bring the Saturday market experience to the digital sphere.
“We know that having so many creative events cancelled, including markets, festivals, concerts, theatre productions, and community gatherings not only affects creatives but that you as our community miss out on the thriving cultural landscape of our country, which is an important part of so many people’s lives,” Justine adds.
But in tough times like these, it’s a matter of doing what we can, where we can. And for both the Olive Tree team and the Newcastle community, right now that means showing local makers they haven’t been forgotten.
To stay up to date and learn how you can support the creative community, keep an eye out on Facebook at facebook.com/theolivetreemarket and on Instagram @olivetreemarket.