Study #2: The impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on workers in CCS
10 Dec 2020
On December 10, 2020, the Polygon Creative Centre and the Centre for Creativity present the results of this year’s second survey “The Slovenian cultural and creative worker in the time of Covid-19”, which focuses on tracking the impact of the epidemic on people working in the cultural and creative sector. Data from this past autumn shows that the measures taken so far to help the sector have been insufficient and, in combination with strict rules on organizing cultural events, have been devastating for many parts of the industry and those working in it. Entering the winter period, many, especially precarious workers in the cultural and creative sector, have also found themselves on the brink of poverty.
From September 29 until the beginning of the second lockdown in Slovenia, on October 25, 2020, 1,578 cultural and creative workers participated in the second, autumn survey examining the effects of Covid-19 on their work and life. The survey included all workers, regardless of legal status: students, workers using copyright contracts, self-employed in culture, sole proprietors, employees in companies and private institutions, associations and cooperatives, and employees in public institutions as well as undeclared workers.
The autumn results confirm the spring forecasts of a high threat level for many worker profiles and a rapid deterioration of the situation in the sector:
- Workers estimate that traffic in the cultural and creative sector will fall by almost 40% in 2020 compared to 2019. The average value of lost business by the end of September is 16,582 euros, and by the end of 2020 an additional loss of revenue is estimated at 9,540 euros.
- The most affected industries were identified as early as spring: cultural and creative tourism, film and AV, music, performing arts, photography, and fashion and textile design. In these industries, at least three-quarters of workers’ monthly earnings fell or fell sharply.
- 7% of workers earn up to € 1,000 net per month. Only 17.3% earn over 1,500 euros. This year, the income of two-thirds of workers fell or fell sharply. Income in 70% of their households also fell or fell sharply.
- During the second survey almost every fifth worker have lost all their work, 40% of workers have some, but not enough, and the same share (40%) is not guaranteed to have work by the end of the year. Three-quarters of all workers have already been laid off since the epidemic began.
- The most precarious workers are also paid the worst, and their earnings have also fallen the most during the epidemic. There is a rapid increase in the gap between workers in more secure public jobs and precarious private individuals.
- Four out of ten workers were either not eligible for state aid, even though they need it, or the help they received was insufficient. In a third of those cases, the workers asked their relatives for a loan to overcome their financial difficulties.
- 8% of respondents assess government measures to help the sector on a five-point scale as insufficient (1), and a further 28.6% as sufficient (2). The survey showed that the workers think that the government deliberately ignores and discriminates against the cultural and creative sector in its aid, and that by delaying urgent tasks instead of providing assistance the Ministry of Culture creates even greater distress for the workers.
- Workers have expressed the belief that this crisis will have more and longer-lasting effects than the financial crisis of a decade ago, and they do not believe that the epidemic will be behind us in 2021. They report experiencing many psycho-social and economic hardships: they experience fear and anxiety, exhaustion, and feelings of meaninglessness and loneliness. More and more of them are slipping into poverty: they are using every euro, and are having trouble paying rent and covering essential expenses.
- Already in the spring, we identified the low dependence of the sector on public funding, and these results were re-confirmed in the autumn. 18.3% of revenue sources in 2019 were tenders at the local, national and EU levels, 70.1% of turnover was accounted for by the share of sale of products and services. Another 11.3% of sales turnover is expected to be financed indirectly from tenders. In short, dependence on tender funds in the cultural and creative sector is also low, taking into account the indirect financing of sales, at 29.6%, which challenges common established beliefs about the high dependence of the sector on public money.
- Almost every third worker has to perform supplemental work that is not related to their professional profile in order to survive. In half of the cases, this work is outside the cultural-creative sector. The most common work is performed in the catering professions, care and protection, cleaning, sales work, teaching, administrative work, and various physical and delivery work schemes.
- Workers emphasized the need for the creation and implementation of additional solutions to aid and ease the sector as soon as possible. A precondition for appropriate solutions is meaningful dialogue between CCS advocates and the Government. The most common incentive solutions proposed for the sector consist in the introduction of cultural vouchers, the introduction of a universal basic income for all citizens without additional conditions, and temporary tax breaks that will encourage the sector’s recovery.
The spring survey concluded that Slovenian creatives lived modestly before the crisis, and that many live in severe social distress, and that others will find themselves in a similar position after the summer. Autumn data shows that aid measures were insufficient and, combined with strict rules for organizing cultural events, were devastating for many parts of the CCS and creative workers.
At the moment, many precarious workers in the cultural and creative sector also find themselves on the brink of poverty. These are not workers who create low added value; on the contrary, these are, on average, very highly educated and qualified individuals who, with the right incentives, can enrich society at various levels. The future of work is often portrayed as automated, robotized, and it is the creative professions that will be the most difficult for machines to replace. Farsighted countries therefore develop and promote the cultural and creative sector, as they are aware that this area is key to the successful future of work. These countries also thoroughly supported the cultural and creative sector during the covid-19 epidemic, as it is a fragile industry consisting of a multitude of self-employed people who can be quickly and severely affected by such economic shocks.
This research is not a call for the cultural and creative sector to be treated as an exceptional case during the Covid-19 epidemic in Slovenia. This is simply a call for consideration for equal treatment and assistance to the sector hardest hit , together with hospitality and tourism, by the epidemic. This is a call to support the sector with immediate state and local incentives, which unites 7% of all employees in Slovenia and which in 2017, according to the Centre for Creativity and the Institute for Economic Research *, generated almost 3 billion euros in turnover, which is more than the chemical industry. And while culture should not be measured exclusively in terms euros, data shows that culture pays off.
mag. Eva Matjaž, Polona Černič and Teja Kosi.
The research was co-produced by the Polygon Creative Centre and the Centre for Creativity. The CzK project is co-financed by the EU from the European Fund for Regional Development and the Republic of Slovenia.
Link to Zoom presentation: https://bit.ly/raziskavaCovid
Link to the whole study:
For more information on the survey, contact:
Eva Matjaž at email@example.com or phone: 041 377 414
The research was co-produced by the Polygon Creative Centre and the Centre for Creativity at MAO Slovenia. The CzK project is co-financed by the EU from the European Fund for Regional Development and the Republic of Slovenia.