Career

How the lockdown threatens eight million people in the cultural industry

The painter Sala Lieber from Neuss.

The painter Sala Lieber from Neuss.

Peter Lachmann

The industry is not known for the loud handling of numbers. More for the self-confidence that she drew for a long time from playing a role in almost everyone’s life. This contradiction is probably one of the reasons for the hidden economic power of the cultural and creative industries. Festivals, readings, concerts and, last but not least, exhibitions that were a matter of course months ago show their importance. Where otherwise dancers, actors, stage painters, guitarists, composers or lighting designers were publicly visible, there is now: emptiness.

More share in the economic output of the EU than telecommunications, chemicals, automobiles

The economic power of the cultural and creative sectors is shown by figures: before the lockdown in Europe, the cultural sector generated 643 billion euros in sales or a total added value of 253 billion euros. This was determined by the consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY) in 2019. The culture of the EU thus contributed more to the European economy than the telecommunications, chemicals or automotive sectors. The authors therefore call it the secret heart of the economy. Ten percent of the industry is supported by the state in Europe, 90 percent are small and medium-sized companies. 7.6 million people across Europe work as actors, musicians, artists, advertisers, authors and journalists. By 2019, the cultural and creative industries had 2.9 times more employees than the automotive industry.

The pandemic is now more at risk than most other industries: In 2020, the industry lost 200 billion euros or a third (31 percent) of its sales. The study “Rebuilding Europe” was commissioned by the French GESAC (European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers) from EY. The visual arts (138 billion euros) and the advertising market (129 billion euros) generated most sales. The authors looked at the fields of architecture, audiovisual media, books, music, newspapers and magazines, performing arts, radio, video games, and visual arts. This is closely based on the definition of the cultural industry by UNESCO.

Performing arts: sales down 90 percent

The culture is hit hard by the crisis. Performing arts such as dance and theater experience a minus of 90 percent, there is a minus of 76 percent in music, and a minus of 38 percent in the visual arts. The loss is particularly strong in the Eastern European countries Bulgaria and Estonia. More than two thirds of total sales were generated in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. In Germany, the industry’s turnover in 2019 was around 174 billion euros. The state is supporting them financially in the pandemic.

The key to overcoming the crisis is also more awareness of culture, according to the authors of the EY study. They express the desire for more investment through better legal framework conditions – and encourage us to use the potential of the cultural and creative industries to change society.

“Art occupies many others”

It helps to have an eye for the services that artists provide. The Neuss painter Sala Lieber has managed to establish herself through talent and commitment. The native Hungarian, who studied at the art academies in Dresden and Düsseldorf with Jörg Immendorff, among others, can make a living from her art. The artist’s oil paintings, screen prints and graphics are also selling in the pandemic.

“People are at home, redesigning, some walls become free for a picture,” she says. But the working conditions under Corona also hit harder. “A lot prevents me from working fluently. I split up between childcare and work. Just being home also means a lack of inspiration. ”Pre-ordered images are waiting. She often goes to the studio at night. “This is often my best working time.”

Your works are also created by others. You earn money from art. “A lot of people are invisibly attached to what I do. I need screen printers, various work materials that someone has to produce, I need photographers, gallery owners, models, transporters, frame builders who make passe-partouts, for example. A copy shop for large format prints. You can’t overestimate how important all of this is and how many people live from art. ”Sala Liebers new exhibition opened digitally at the end of January.

“Art is what is left when cultures go under”

Corina Ott-Seelow also applied for the aid money with which the state supports self-employed people. The art and museum educator digitally guides visitors through the Museum Barberini in Potsdam. “The digital tours are attracting more and more visitors,” she says.

Right from the start, the museum tried to keep in touch with its visitors even in lockdown, which is a special achievement for a museum: through daily digital live tours, matinees about the masterpieces of French impressionism, or digital family Sundays. “Friends and acquaintances can, for example, get together and experience a joint tour live,” says Ott-Seelow. She also gives painting courses for children and teenagers. Since the lockdown, this has become creative zoom tutorials. She doesn’t have her old salary yet – it has slumped massively.

“Imagination, energy, life – art is so much at the same time that everything else goes under,” says painter Sala Lieber. Some time ago she visited Pompeii, Italy. The ancient city on the Gulf of Naples was buried in 79 BC by the eruption of Vesuvius. “What was found when Pompeii was unearthed again? A cultural asset, ”says Sala Lieber. “Painted walls that showed the world of that time, excavations, building culture, theater. Art is what remains when cultures go under. ”

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