The EU must do more to help Europe's cultural and creative sectors and industries get back on their feet, says Monica Semedo

Performers and artists have been exceptionally hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, explains Luxembourgish Renew MEP
Antonio Scaramuzzino

By Monica Semedo MEP

Monica Semedo (LU, RE) is Rapporteur for the European Parliament’s report on the situation of artists and the cultural recovery in the EU

13 Oct 2021

Performers and artists have been exceptionally hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU must do more to help Europe’s cultural and creative sectors and industries get back on their feet, writes Monica Semedo

The cultural and creative sectors and industries have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, artists and creative sector professionals in the European Union have faced catastrophic economic, social, cultural, and human consequences, due to the closure of venues, exhibition halls, festivals, and the cancellation of live performances. In short, many were left without any regular source of income.

To bring this into perspective: the COVID-19 containment measures taken by Member States have affected the cultural and creative sectors and industries more than any other.

The sector experienced turnover losses of over 30 percent for 2020 - a cumulative loss of €199bn - with the music and performing arts sectors experiencing losses of 75 percent and 90 percent, respectively.

Culture is an ecosystem; one that not only generates high economic value - 4.4 percent of EU GDP in terms of total turnover and employing around 7.6 million people - but also brings a substantial social benefit.

Our cultural and creative sectors and industries contribute to democratic, sustainable, free and inclusive societies and reflect our European diversity, values, history, freedoms and way of life.

"From my personal experience as a former performer, I can confirm that many artists already struggled before the COVID-19 crisis. For many cultural and creative professionals, it’s often necessary to have a second income in order to guarantee a certain degree of social security and stability"

From my personal experience as a former performer, I can confirm that many artists already struggled before the COVID-19 crisis. For many cultural and creative professionals, it’s often necessary to have a second income in order to guarantee a certain degree of social security and stability.

However, juggling two jobs often results in difficulties finding a proper work-life balance and repeatedly leads to uncertain working hours, fast-paced work environment changes and income insecurity.

Self-employed artists and cultural professionals are particularly affected by these challenges. Under these circumstances, it makes it difficult to plan ahead for simple but important issues such as parental leave or childcare.

Gender equality in the cultural and creative sectors and industries is another aspect that should be highlighted much more. While there are many women working in the sector, there are very few in decision-making positions.

Imagine having all these worries and yet still needing to find sufficient time to be creative. My Own-Initiative Report on the Situation of Artists and the Cultural Recovery in the European Union addresses the main areas where we need to act.

It was adopted by a huge majority in Parliament’s Culture and Education (CULT) Committee, once more underling the importance of the cultural and creative sectors and industries and highlighting the widespread support on the issue among MEPs.

"The approval of this Report in the CULT Committee was the first great success. The next step will be its adoption in the next plenary session, which should hopefully not pose much of a challenge, given the great support already received from the Members of this House. It will then be up to the European Commission to act, so that the full relaunch of the European cultural and creative sector can happen as quickly as possible"

In this Report, we emphasise the need for better cooperation and coordination between European Union Member States. For example, we need to provide information for artists who are cross-border workers, to help them avoid bureaucratic burdens and double taxation.

Artists should also be able to harness the advantages of the single market and freedom of movement within the EU.

We need to define the status of an artist in the European Union; we need to explore possibilities of mutual recognition and even of a European framework governing the status of artists, to ensure they benefit from their rights derived from their status throughout the entire Union.

We need to facilitate access to social security to allow artists to have a proper livelihood. Artists often have the necessary talent but can lack the skills to translate their ideas into financial success. Therefore, they should also have access to training in entrepreneurial skills, which will help them transform their creativity into a reliable source of income.

Furthermore, we also made sure that artists in the EU are better-protected from political repression and against discrimination in all its forms.

There are growing concerns that human rights are currently under attack from governments, political ideologies and non-state actors, both in Europe and around the world. Freedom of artistic expression is a core value of the EU and must continue to be guaranteed.

The approval of this Report in the CULT Committee was the first great success. The next step will be its adoption in the next plenary session, which should hopefully not pose much of a challenge, given the great support already received from the Members of this House.t will then be up to the European Commission to act, so that the full relaunch of the European cultural and creative sector can happen as quickly as possible.

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