During this difficult times, we all turn to culture: reading books, listening to music, expressing our emotions through art – culture helps us to survive during this period. However, the creative and culture industry (CCI) is one of the most heavily hit by the COVID-19 crisis: over 7.3 million culture and creative jobs are expected to be affected globally.

EUROCITIES webinar “City dialogue on culture” shines a light on how the European Union and mega European cities are building their CCI resilience to COVID-19 impacts.

 Key takeaways

‘Never waste a good crisis’ said Justine Simons, London’s Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries.
Now is a crucial moment to build the argument on why culture needs to be part of the response to the crisis. To do so, data capture is particularly relevant. Amsterdam, for example surveyed over 370 local cultural organisations. Their responses gave an insight into the financial effects (short and long term) on the cultural sector.

The cultural and creative sector is key for local economies.
In Amsterdam, the creative sector represents 10% of local employment. The crisis highlights the fragility of employment conditions of artists and freelancers. In London, where 1 job out of every 6 is a creative one and 90% of grassroots venues face a risk of closure, the local ‘culture at risk’ office has been supersized since March and has mobilised to provide crucial support services to the sector; these include mediating disputes and providing capacity-building resources.

Many cities have developed emergency funds for culture.
In Amsterdam, a €17 million emergency support plan for the creative sector has been launched to prevent cultural institutions from closing. The plan was developed after a careful ‘data analysis and damage scan’ conducted through discussions with the sector. Other cities have adopted similar measures, like London, Nantes or Berlin.

Cultural venues are closed? Cities are developing new cultural activities and services.
Expansion of library services through home delivery and postal service, online cultural survival kits and even a mask fashion week in Vilnius are just a few of the inspiring examples/ Check more of them out here.

The European Commission, to complement and support Member States’ actions, has taken a set of measures to tackle the consequences of the crisis on the cultural and creative sectors
Check out an overview here
Contribute to the Creatives Unite platform

Source: Highlights from EUROCITIES city dialogue on culture - cities respond to the Covid crisis

What does it mean for smaller cities who cannot mobilise resources to support their CCI?

Reflecting on the discussion, our Romanian partner at the Municipality of Timisoara said for smaller cities such as Timisoara, the argument is not on how or how much relief fund to be assigned to the CCI, but rather what they can do with the limited resources at hand.  

Romania's economy is impacted hardly, and culture and education were not and are still not perceived as important when all the focus goes to strengthening the health system and for social security measures. There aren't any concrete alleviating measures for the CCI in Romania, yet, despite advocating efforts from different professional bodies (e.g: tourism, publishing industry, etc).

The 24-hour-city concept is promising, however not legally possible in Romania, as each cultural institution is financed by a different body. For Timisoara case, some are financed by the Municipality (German Theatre, Hungarian Theatre, the Philharmonic Orchestra), some by the County (Puppet Theatre, the County Library, Art Museum and the Banat Museum) and some by the Ministry of Culture (The Opera House, The National Theatre).

Digitalisation as an alternative?

This digital shift is already proving its importance locally. Timisoara 2021 European Capital of Culture projects are inspecting and creating a digitalised culture; and whereas this is good, at the same time we have to think about inclusion: not everybody has access to Wi-Fi and the devices need to be able to follow a cultural act, and not all the cultural expressions are suited for the digital world.

Furthermore, not everybody is prepared for this swift digital shift in terms of know-how, i.e. how to produce digital cultural content, financial, technical, and human resources, and a digital experience inadequate and different from the real-life norms.

Nevertheless, it is a fascinating topic for discussion, testing and implementation.

Read more: Timisoara 2021: uncertain times call for more cooperation

Photo credit:
Daria Sannikova from Pexels
Negative Space from Pexels
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Timisoara 2021 European Capital of Culture