Data COVID19 and Europe’s cultural industry | 2

Saving culture from the pandemic

The economic losses of the businesses of the European Cultural and Creative Industry will add up to billions of Euros. The EU stepped in with a top-up of its flagship Creative Europe programme. But pumping more money into the system won’t do. So workers have started to mobilise. Second part of Alexander Damiano Ricci's investigation.

Published on 22 April 2021 at 16:30

If the impact of COVID-19 on the Cultural and creative industry has been devastating, it would be incorrect to say that ahead of the crisis the situation was rosy. According to a report by Ernst & Young, the industry as a whole was on an upward trend, but if one adopts a workers-based perspective the picture changes slightly. 

In fact, the very same report highlights how the CCI sector draws heavily upon atypical working contracts and short-term work. Looking at the latest Eurostat data, one can see how, in 2019, the self-employed in the cultural sector accounted for almost half of all cultural employment in the Netherlands (47 per cent) and in Italy (46 per cent). Among the Member States with shares of cultural self-employment higher than the EU average (32 per cent), were also Greece (38 per cent), Czechia (37 per cent), Ireland and Spain (both 34 per cent) and Germany (33 per cent). Freelancing is generally accompanied by a greater vulnerability of individuals on the labour market. And in many EU countries, being a freelancer means not being able to benefit from generous welfare schemes targeted at regular employees. 

This implies that workers from the CCI in the EU were structurally more precarious than others even before COVID-19 impacted the sector.

“In Europe, you have at least 500 thousand professional musicians, but not all of them are unionised”, says Benoît Machuel, General Secretary of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM). “Sometimes it’s just practically difficult [to get unionised] if you are not an employee. If you are a freelancer, competition ru…

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