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'Self-employed workers during corona especially let down by large structurally subsidised arts institutions'

"The corona crisis exposes some weaknesses of the cultural and creative sector. In this most flexibilised sector of the economy, the flexible shell proved to be an easy austerity option during the corona crisis. As a result, self-employed workers have partly had to seek refuge outside the cultural and creative sector and may not return."

What we already heard, saw and knew has now been scientifically established: the arts sector has been permanently damaged by the corona pandemic. The failure to take sufficient opportunities to properly compensate the extremely large number of self-employed workers in the sector for the loss of work has created a permanent shortage of people behind the scenes: production workers, set designers, stage technologists, PR people. The long-awaited second survey from the Boekman Foundation shows that. The results are slightly nuanced compared to the earlier study, but still dramatic.

Better results

Corona hit hardest in the performing arts, with visual arts a close second, although 'good' is a tricky term in this context. Boekman says: "The self-employed in the cultural and creative sector - with a few exceptions among mainly small and medium-sized organisations - have benefited little from the generic and specific support measures. Between 2019 and 2021, cultural organisations reduced burdens of self-employed workers four times more than those of salaried staff (20% versus 5%)."

What is striking here is that the large, structurally subsidised clubs have done the least for the weakest: "Most organisations are actually achieving better financial results across the board in these years than in 2019, also because - with the exception of organisations in visual arts and creative industries - they have, on balance, significantly reduced their charges between 2019 and 2021." 

Smaller organisations, subsidised and unsubsidised, took better care of their 'free' employees. It reminds this former newspaper boy of the Christmas greeting rounds in Capelle aan den Ijssel: in the relatively poor Fluiterlaan apartment district at the time, NRC subscribers gave considerably more Christmas tip to the delivery boy than in the relatively well-off Merelhoven. 

The entire report, about which more news will hopefully follow at a later date here, is download 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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