Majority of cultural agents fear substantial loss of income due to COVID, report reveals

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt mainly in the second quarter of 2020. As many as 75% of Valencian cultural agents fear substantial losses, according to a report produced by the Culture Economy research group of Valencia University (Econcult), headed by professor Raúl Abeledo.

The main goals of the report, explains Abeledo, “are the analysis of both the impact in the short and medium term of COVID-19 on the cultural sector of the Valencian Community and the study of the different adaptation strategies developed by cultural agents, as well as an assessment of the role fulfilled by public aid and the identification of proposals that emerged from the cultural organisations themselves to overcome this crisis.”

The main source of information that has made it possible to conduct the quantitative analysis of the current situation has ben the design of a detailed questionnaire produced by Econcult. This questionnaire was available from 16 April to 17 May of 2020, and received a total 410 responses from organisations and Valencian cultural agents.

The number of cultural agents who fear losses to their income forecast reaches 75.37%. Furthermore, the amount of people polled who said they project losses greater than 75% from the expected income has increased significantly until reaching almost half of the total (45.37%). Only 4.63% said that they would not have income losses in the second quarter.

Almost the totality of people polled (92.93%) said they will be affected in the long term by the confinement measures, with an impact ranging from slight to having to shut down the organisation. Only 9.51% of people polled said the impact will be small, and will be able to adapt to the new social distancing situation easily.

On the other hand, almost half of people polled (45.85%) assessed the impact in the long term as significant, which would force them to fire some of their staff to be able to stay afloat, with the resulting loss of cultural occupation this will entail.

Regarding staff adjustments, the most affected subsectors are cultural management (40%) and books, literature and reading (23.53%). On the other hand, the lower percentages are held by visual arts (9.59%) and other disciplines (9.30%).

As regards the implementation of teleworking, the subsectors that stand out are design and applied arts (66.67%) and cultural management (60%) as the ones that have chosen this action the most. On the opposite end are performing arts (34.53%). In connection with the increase in digital investment, the highest values correspond to cultural management (46.67%), whereas the lowest figures are for design and applied arts (16.67%).

To face the crisis, the preferred measure by the people polled is an integral and systematic action by creating a strategic plan for promoting the recovery of cultural and creative sectors. Now more than ever it is essential for the Valencian regional government to update and adapt the current Valencian Cultural Strategic Plan – Fes Cultura (2016-2020) – to the challenges that COVID-19 presents in its five main lines of action: industrialisation and consolidation of culture and leisure sectors; territorialisation; inter-institutional cooperation; internationalisation; democratisation and access to culture. The second highest valued measure is an increase in the public recruitment of cultural organisations, such as for example the funding of cultural projects of open calls. The third highest valued measure is aid for the solvency of the organisations, such as loans or subsidies.

The report originates in an Econcult initiative in the framework of the European “Chebec” Interreg MED project, whose goal is to boost the strategies for the internationalisation of the cultural agents and organisations in the Mediterranean regions (https://chebec.interreg-med.eu/). Together with Raúl Abeledo, researchers María Sendra and Guillem Bacete participated in its creation, as well as documentalist Fernando Álvarez.

Econcult website: http://www.econcult.eu/es/