How has Covid wreaked havoc on creatives, pitfalls, protection, and recovery by Ramsha The Great (minor edits by TNFro)
The creative sector has a fair share in the overall economic footprint, in creating employment opportunities and contributing to having a positive social impact through several channels while also spurring innovation across the economy. Unfortunately, as things stand, it is among the most heavily affected sectors, especially in large urban centers where the employment of many involved are at risk in the backdrop of the societal and economic fallout of the ongoing pandemic.
The venue-based sector, in particular, has had to bear the brunt of the financial stress caused by significant declines in revenue due to social distancing measures. Reduced revenues have led to reduced wages and increased layoffs for creative professionals, many of whom were already operating on the margins of financial stability. Not to mention that employment in the creative sector is itself precarious as to sustain their livelihoods, creative professionals (artists, performers, musicians, etc.) have to take on numerous projects as a freelancer, at times in addition to working a part-time salaried job if these contracts or projects aren’t lucrative enough.
What further makes these projects a precarious undertaking is the general lack of access creative professionals then have for acquiring income replacement benefits. The absence of such safety nets makes them highly vulnerable to economic shocks especially in those cases where they don’t have a part-time job to fall back on. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus how such employment opportunities in the creative sector tend to fall through the cracks when it comes to receiving public support.
In the absence of a public safety net aside, up-and-coming creative professionals, as well as those seeking reemployment, will have to navigate through long-term financial challenges posed by the changing dynamics. The social distancing measures that were put in place early on in efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic, led to fewer people showing up at creative events, which led to the aforementioned reduced wages or layoffs, and simultaneously this reduced public demand then led to reduced investments in the creative sector. Even if investment starts pouring back in as lockdowns are ending globally and nations re-opening with curbs to movement and public gatherings being lifted, the pandemic has chipped away at the purchasing power of the working-class and so it would quite some time for public demand in this sector to reach back up to pre-crisis levels.
However in the meantime, during the recovery phase, the needs of these creative professionals can be responded to keeping in view their unconventional form of work. Austria’s recovery fund for artists is a good example, under this policy, the social insurance fund for artists was increased by 5 million Euros to compensate them for the losses they had suffered due to event cancellations. Similarly, Belgium’s temporary unemployment scheme recognizes the aforementioned short-term contracts creative professionals undertake. Policies with long-term recovery objectives such as the initiative by New Zealand in supporting the sustainable redeployment of creative professionals through a nearly NZD 8 million fund are also noteworthy in this regard.
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