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Unesco: already 10 million jobs lost to cultural sector worldwide by 2020

Today is a rather voluminous (331 pages) report appeared from UNESCO, the UN organisation concerned with culture, development and education. In it, the organisation evaluates the extent to which the goals set in 2005 by the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Cultural Diversity have been met. The picture is not rosy. Particularly because of Corona, job losses and lost sales are dramatic. 10,000,000 cultural jobs were lost in 2020 alone, the first year of the pandemic. Out of a total number of cultural jobs that stood at 30 million in 2005, that is a loss of 30 per cent.

The decline is not just because of COVID-19, reports UNESCO: the amounts governments and individuals spend on the arts are increasingly disproportionate to the cultural sector's contribution to the global economy. Indeed, in the 'developed' part of the world, governments' contribution to the cultural sector has declined sharply, where it increased in the developing part. However, as the table below shows, the net result is a big drop, because the nominal amount of investment for developed countries is much higher. As a result, the decline is also much more palpable.

Nevertheless, its share of employment is high. The cultural sector employs 6.2 per cent of the workforce worldwide, with Africa and Latin America being the positive outliers at 8.2 and 6.9 per cent respectively. Eastern Europe is at the bottom with 5.8 per cent, just below the employment rate of North America and Western Europe.

UNESCO is concerned about the decreased investment in culture, also because it seems to keep pace with the decrease in freedom of information and press. And, even though the number of women in office is very high at 48 per cent, there is still much to be gained in terms of diversity, also because, for example, the proportion of women in leadership positions still leaves much to be desired.

A thorough analysis of all 331 pages is a bit too far for this short post, but clearly, if this had been an update on the Paris climate accords, panic would really set in. Now, the decline in the role of culture in global society is only something to worry about quite a lot.

Read the whole report here:

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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