HOW THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IS AFFECTING THE GLOBAL CULTURAL LABOR MARKET

Offering more than 30 million jobs globally, cultural and creative sectors have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. 

Cultural employment is precarious by nature due to its seasonal character and the high number of self-employed workers. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the cultural and creative sectors (CCS) are experiencing major difficulties.

Based on a recent report by the OECD, venue-based sectors, like museums, performing arts, live music, festivals, cinema, etc., are the ones that are suffering the most as a consequence of social distancing measures.

The drastic drop in revenues for this sector is causing an increasing financial instability resulting in the reduction of wages and increase in layoffs. 

The film industry alone is reported to face a loss amounting to 10 million jobs and the same faith will be faced by one third of world’s galleries, forced to cut their stuffing by more than half.

Similarly, the music industry faces a loss of around $10 billion in lost sponsorship and the global publishing market will more likely shrink by 7.5%. In these sectors, the majority of artists are employed informally and during this difficult period have been left behind.

Of this share, women hold the highest proportion of precarious jobs making them especially vulnerable to social and economic insecurity. 

In the past months the responses of national, regional and international organizations were addressed at providing help and support to the CCS. At the European Union level there was the introduction of measures addressed mainly to working conditions that are more associated with CCS.

For example, policies were adopted to grant protection to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), self-employed and those who lost their jobs. At the international level organizations like the OECD and UNESCO also provided tools and policy guides for decision makers to address the challenges that cultural professionals are experiencing during the pandemic. 

Moreover, it is also important to highlight the impact of digitalization on the CCS sector. Major technological advances were witnessed during the pandemic and people were able to enjoy arts as part of their everyday lives with streamed live concerts and digital access to museums.

However, digital technologies came with important challenges involving accessibility, depending mainly on age and income. The quality of digital infrastructures, connection and the population’s access to digital equipment is seen as a cause of deepening social and economic inequalities

Altogether, great efforts have been witnessed by the international community. The mobilization of financial help can indeed be a good sign for the revitalization of CCS.

However, these are not enough for the major loss that artists and cultural professionals are suffering. Sector-specific aids and funds should be promoted globally to grant a better support for the sector that represents not just an economic asset but also a fundamental mean to shape identity and promote diversity.

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