Like many Stanthorpe residents, Casey Welsh has spent the past year watching each event on the calendar be canned and and community disconnect grow.
Luckily, as a musician, Miss Welsh knew the invaluable power of the arts which fuelled her drive to organise a bumper festival this weekend to reconnect the Granite Belt.
This Saturday the Stanthorpe Arts Festival will feature dozens of local musicians, creatives and more that will unite uniting in the theme of 'recovery, resilience and healing'.
Miss Welsh said she and Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery director Mary Findlay were inspired to kickstart the event after witnessing the pandemic's affect on the community.
"There was a whole realisation of the isolation rural members of the community have gone through with drought and this past year with Covid," she said.
"It has been so long since we have been able to get together and unite in this creative artistic environment."
In fact, for many musicians, the gig would be the first since March last year with the event penned as a "re-emergence" of the creative sector.
"A lot of musicians haven't had work for a whole year now," Miss Welsh said.
"Even if it's something you do on the side, when you're not getting any income or gigs, it does discourage you. What's the point of getting together and practising if you can't show and share that?"
"That's why it's so great to see this kind of funding given to our artistic community."
Funding from Bendigo Bank meant all events, from belly dancing to burlesque were free, allowing the festival to "heal and give back" to Stanthorpe.
One of the main centrepieces of the event would demonstrate this - a massive bunting featuring the stories and fears of the Stanthorpe community during the pandemic.
"Everyone has been affected in some way or another, and it's not about complaining but saying 'Hey we went through this together'," Miss Welsh said.
"It's giving people a sense of hope and place to share our stories."
The Stanthorpe Art's Festival kicks off on February 20 from 9am - 7pm in Weeroona Park.