1. Since it sounds like you won't be able to pay off all your debt before you leave here, I would suggest making only the minimum payments (or a only a bit more than the minimum). Take all the other extra money you can manage and save it as a transition buffer to cover future apartment, transportation, moving, and general living costs (in case you don't have a job lined up right away).
2. Do you like your old city? Could you move back there temporarily for 6 months to a year until you find a job or city you really like? In my worst case scenario, I would move back to my old city since I know it very well and it would be easier to find an apartment/job due to my old contacts there.
3. Echoing what others have said, no matter where you move back to, try to take any job that is offered to you when you first move back. Even if it's just a temporary fix. If for some reason I couldn't go back to my old job, I would hit up all the temp agencies in my area. When I first moved back home from college, the temp agencies were a lifesaver and I was lucky enough to be placed in fairly well paying jobs for my area.
I don't have too much advice about art since I don't have much experience with that, but you could probably pick up an ESL side gig somewhere in a decent sized city.