COVID-19 crisis will have ‘massive and lasting’ impact on Europe’s culture sector, says report

The study on the state of the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) in Europe also says that the industry can be “one of the drivers to help boost and revamp” the EU economy.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

27 Jan 2021

The study was presented at an online press conference attended by the famous French musician Jean-Michel Jarre.

Jarre, who has sold an estimated 80 million albums, said, “Culture has become a scarce resource in today’s Europe, and we are all suffering because of it. At the same time, Europeans are experiencing the truly profound value of art and its ability to bring us together.”

The artist, who holds the world record for the largest-ever audience at an outdoor event attended by 3.5 million people, added, “This study reflects that reality, it puts numbers to the suffering and offers clear instructions as to the solution.”

Jarre said the report by the European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers (GESAC) will be presented later on Tuesday to the European Commission.

It claims to reveal the “immense size” of Europe’s CCIs and the “devastating” effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The report also contains several recommendations for EU leaders on how the CCIs “can be utilised to help the European economy and people recover.”

The Zoom press conference heard that at the end of 2019, the cultural and creative economy was a “European heavyweight.”

With a turnover of €643bn in 2019, the CCIs represented 4.4 percent of EU GDP in terms of total turnover.

“Culture has become a scarce resource in today’s Europe, and we are all suffering because of it. At the same time, Europeans are experiencing the truly profound value of art and its ability to bring us together” Jean-Michel Jarre

However, in 2020, the cultural and creative economy lost approximately 31 percent of its revenue and total turnover of CCIs in the EU28 slumped to €444 bn in 2020.

The report says, “With a loss of 31 percent of its turnover, the cultural and creative economy is one of the most affected in Europe, slightly less than air transport but more than the tourism and automotive industries (-27 percent and -25 percent respectively).”

The shockwaves of COVID-19 are, it says, felt in all CCIs, including the performing arts (-90 percent between 2019 and 2020) and music (-76 percent) being the most impacted.

Visual arts, architecture, advertising, books and press revenues fell by 20 percent to 40 percent compared with 2019.

“The seriousness of the crisis is illustrated, for example, by the fall of around 35 percent in royalties collected by collective management organisations (CMOs) for authors and performers, whose revenues will be sharply reduced in 2021 and 2022.”

The crisis has hit Central and Eastern Europe the hardest (from -36 percent in Lithuania to -44 percent in Bulgaria and Estonia), according to the report.

In a recent “Future Consumer Index” conducted by accountants Ernst and Young (EY), 46 percent of respondents said they would not feel comfortable going to a concert for several months, and 21 percent said they would not feel comfortable going for several years.

“This sector, an economic heavyweight which is at the heart of Europe’s social fabric, could become the number one ally of an economic revival”

Marc Lhermitte, partner at Ernst and Young

Speaking at the press briefing, Marc Lhermitte, partner at EY said, “This study provides the most up to date data on the massive economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on cultural and creative industries in Europe. 2020 was a dramatic year for the cultural and creative industries (CCIs), both in Europe and around the world.”

He added, “Culture was the first to suspend most of its live and retail activity and it will probably be the last to resume without constraint. But the study also asserts that this sector, an economic heavyweight which is at the heart of Europe’s social fabric, could become the number one ally of an economic revival.”

The early closure in many countries of all cinemas, theatres, music venues and museums, and the cancellation of summer festivals vital for the exposure of young artists and performers in particular, was “an absolute body-blow” that would be felt for years to come.

It is now crucial that the EU and its Member States provide public funding and encourage private investment in the creative and cultural industries’ recovery “to an extent that reflects its weight and importance,” Lhermitte said.

GESAC groups 32 of the largest authors’ societies in the European Union, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. They seek to defend and promote the rights of more than 1 million creators and rights holders in the areas of music, audiovisual works, visual arts, and literary and dramatic works.

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