image of Cristina Carlini

Theatre at the time of Coronavirus

That's not the title of a new book, but actually a "slogan" that was often seen on Facebook in the last two weeks in Italy. I would like to share with the fellow members the current situation here and update you on how the performing art field is being affected by it.

As you might know, Italian government reacted to the initial spread of the coronavirus in Italy with a massive prevention campaign. The aim is to deal with the emergency while preventing the stress of the healthcare system: a huge numbers of tests (present date, more than 23.300) is performend to detect all the people carrying the virus (even the ones without symptoms) and the country is forced into a block, in order to slow down the spread (and the hospitals' occupancy) while the tests are performed and the people isolated.

What does it mean in terms of daily life and performing art?

From Sunday 23rd February, theatres, museums and all the cultural venues were closed in most part of the North, as locations with a high risk of infection. Many Festivals, conferences and events were also cancelled, or at least postponed. International cooperation is questioned, as we can't exaclty foresee what lies ahead. 
The initial precautions taken for Lombardy and Veneto (the most affected areas), where quickly adopted also in the neighbouring regions; other local government (Region or municipalities) in the not affected areas of the country also decided to join the block, as form of prevention. 

That results, in the first week only, in around 7.400 performances cancelled, with a loss in term of tickets sold that reaches 10,1 million euro, plus travels, artist fee and all the other expenses already paid. 

But there's more: the Italian system is mostly based on public and private funds, that are stricly connected to quantitative parameters such as number of shows, number of employed people, number of spectators for each show. With the performances cancelled, most of the sector will not reach the expected numbers, resulting in a cut of the annual funds.

On Friday 28th February, the Italian Ministry of Culture Dario Franceschini hosted a urgent meeting with representatives from the sector (such as Federvivo and C.Re.S.Co.) to immediately react and insert specific instructions in the national measures the government is working on, such as:
- providing certain flexibility in all the funds' parameters, advising also other institutions to adopt it;
- listing the cultural enterprises together with the others that are strongly affected and deserve supporting measures (such as restaurants, hotels, tourism related activities, ...);
- dealing with the "holes" in the bureaucratic apparatus, where, for examples, measures supporting workers are already being put in place, but with criteria that will never match the specificity of performing art (type of contracts, regulamentation, ...).

While we are dealing with the second week of the block in the North and more and more events are postponed, performing art sector is reacting using social network: orchestra performing in streaming in an empy theatre, actors inventing a "chain letter" system on Facebook posting a video where they read books or plays, radio hosting discussions and conferences. 

Personally, some questions emerge, that will be worth analyzing in the upcoming future.

Even if we can (hopefully) expect that the situation will be normalized in a couple of weeks, with theaters opening again, our schedule for Spring will be a lot blanker and, probably, with no long distance travels.
We will spend more time locally and we will find ways to cooperate without attending so many events in person. We will need to react to the negative impact, elaborate guidelines for the future and be prepared at the idea of the audience not feeling comfortable in joining crowded events.

What would that mean for us? Would that change our perspective and practices?

Thank you for reading me and I'm here for questions, to know more on your situation and to share thoughts.

Ps: if you can read Italian and are interested in stay updated, I suggest to follow ateatro (http://www.ateatro.it/webzine/)

 

UPDATE 6th March 2020
On 4th March, the Italian Government has decided to apply the restriction rules to the whole country, advised by the a Scientific Committee. The reason is, again, the balance between the spread of the desease in its "strong" first hit and the capacity of hospitals.
Following the restriction, all theatrical activities in Italy is now suspended until April 3rd. 
A new meeting was held at the Ministry yesterday in order to study the possible solutions.

image of Clara Giraud

Thank you Cristina for these insights. So sorry to hear how the virus is affecting your work.

A more health at work prevention focus blog has been writen by Unlimited, which may be of interest: https://weareunlimited.org.uk/contingencies-for-coronavirus/

 

 

Posted 1 month 5 days ago
image of Cristina Carlini

Thank you Clara, I find the document really efficient, not only providing the general info but also concrete suggestions to better run your organization - sadly to say that it's true, we are used to go to work even if we are ill and that's not safe in any case, coronavirus or not.

We should do better in terms of work environment.

Posted 1 month 5 days ago
image of Natascia Sollecito mascetti

Thanks for sharing this, Cristina!

Thanks for sharing this, Cristina!

Posted 1 month 5 days ago
image of Alessandra Anzaghi

Thanks Cristina <3

ciao

Alessandra

Thanks Cristina <3

ciao

Alessandra

Posted 4 weeks 1 day ago
image of Clara Giraud

Hi Cristina and others,

as the UK is ramping its isolation policy, and the cultural sector is scrambling to figure out how it will manage the massive income loss, both for buildings and institutions but massively for independent freelance artists - I wonder if we could share solutions and ideas that are being created to address the situation?

In the last 24hrs, in the UK, the independent sector is trying to self-organise: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/mar/16/uk-theatre-coronavirus-cancellations?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

The government here will be slow to shape a response, and in distributing money, and it's likely that some business and indviduals will just not be able to cope at all beyond a few weeks.

What's happening in your countries? What models of support? Organising? Lobbying? Government or other intervention?

Thanks,

Clara

Posted 3 weeks 2 days ago
image of Katarina Lindholm

Hi Clara and all,

thank you for keeping this thread alive, it's crucial for us to share the different actions (or lack thereof) in our countries in order to do advocacy work internationally and locally.

Hi Clara and all,

thank you for keeping this thread alive, it's crucial for us to share the different actions (or lack thereof) in our countries in order to do advocacy work internationally and locally.

In Finland in the performing arts sector, there are estimations of 18,6 M € losses of income for theatres and companies due to cancellations of events and closing down of theatres. Additionally over 5 M € losses for artists touring in schools, health care and elder care facilities. If the situation continues this summer, it means much more financial losses as we have an active summer theatre scene over here.

Finnish Ministry of Culture and Education together with the Arts Promotion Centre (=arts council) and many private foundations have put up an emergency aid of 1,5 M€ in a very short time, to be handed out as grants to artists who have suffered loss of income due to covid-19. More emergency aid schemes are yet to be announced by other private foundations, some funders are transferring mobility grants temporarily to covid-19 aid (which does make me a bit worried for the future of the already very scarce mobility support in Finland...) and gathering information via online surveys about what kind of emergency funding artists would need, in order to provide the best possible support. So private foundations in Finland are really at the forefront of this thing.

More info here: https://www.danceinfo.fi/en/news/finnish-foundations-and-ministry-provide-millions-in-emergency-aid-for-cultural-sector-in-distress/

Stay well!

Katarina / Dance Info Finland

Posted 2 weeks 6 days ago
image of Clara Giraud

Interesting to hear of the situation in Denmark, but not sure how this applies to the cultural sector? https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/18/denmark-coronavirus-uk-g

Interesting to hear of the situation in Denmark, but not sure how this applies to the cultural sector? https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/18/denmark-coronavirus-uk-government-workers-employees

Posted 3 weeks 20 hours ago
image of Frédéric Poty

for the special status of the cultural workers in France:

Exceptional support measures for temporary workers and employees in the cultural sector in the context of the health crisis | Posted on March 19, 2020

for the special status of the cultural workers in France:

Exceptional support measures for temporary workers and employees in the cultural sector in the context of the health crisis | Posted on March 19, 2020

Muriel Pénicaud, Minister of Labor, and Franck Riester, Minister of Culture, announce exceptional measures to support intermittent workers and employees in the cultural sector in the context of the health crisis.

In order to limit the social impacts of the health crisis linked to the coronavirus epidemic, which particularly affects intermittent workers in the entertainment industry (performers and seasonal workers) and other employees (short contracts, etc.) in the cultural sector, Muriel Pénicaud, Minister of Labor, and Franck Riester, Minister of Culture, have decided to neutralize the period starting on March 15 and ending at the end of the confinement of the French population for:

- the calculation of the reference period giving entitlement to unemployment insurance and social rights for intermittent performers (performers and technicians), so as not to penalize intermittent workers who cannot work and acquire rights during this phase of the coronavirus epidemic;

- the calculation and payment of unemployment insurance benefits for intermittent performers (performers and technicians) and other employees (short contracts, etc.) in the cultural sector, so that people arriving at the end of their entitlement during this phase of the epidemic can continue to be compensated.

The Minister of Culture will also study, in conjunction with professionals and union organizations of employees and employers, the support systems that will help support artistic employment after the epidemic.

Posted 3 weeks 1 hour ago
image of Clara Giraud
Posted 2 weeks 6 days ago
image of Clara Giraud
Posted 2 weeks 6 days ago
image of Cristina Carlini

ITALIAN MEASURES - Decree 17th March 2020 "Healing Italy"

The decree is the first step of the measures that Italian government will put in place on a national level: this first decree is mostly dedicated to guarantee jobs, while another one expected in April will focus on economical recovery.
Some measures are especially made for performing arts, but the most relevant ones are including them in the general measures taken for the other productive sectors: that is a relevant point, result of good advocacy, since it's the first time ever that performing arts are treated as part of the general system (and with similar rights).

Measures are to be detailed in the first weeks, but for now that's what we know.

WORKERS:
- performing arts organizations will access "Cassa integrazione",  the system of assistance for employees who are temporarily suspended from work because of a crisis situation in the company which employs them. That's normally not accessible for most of us. It is run by the INPS (Italian social security), which pays the employs 80% of their normal salary and period will be for a maximum of 9 weeks. That will support theatres/organizations on dealing with regular staff (administrative, communication, project managers, technicians, artists/musicians with longer contracis, ...);
- performing arts workers (artists, technicians, tour managers, ...) affected by cancellation of shows and not inlcuded in long term employees will benefit for March of a special bonus of 600 euro, to be asked by the worker to governement thorugh INPS (procedure not open yet). First time ever that this kind of measure covers them;
- freelancers will benefit of the same 600 euro bonus for March. On this point the situation is more complicated, since that will include only the categories that have not a separated additional social security (in Italy it's mandatory for some categories, such as lawyers and architects), but freelancers in performing arts are generally include in this bonus. It's to be asked by the freelancer to government through INPS (procedure not open yet).

TAXES, REGULAMENTATIONS, TICKETS AND HOTEL VOUCHERS:
- payment of most of the taxes have been postponed for all the country;
- facilitation for liquid asset with banks;
- reimbursment of services through vouchers. Hotels, travels and events' tickets are included in the categories of services for which the citizens can ask reimbursment. After reimbursing the citizens, hotels and events' organizations can ask the government to paid for the cancelled services. That means that touring companies can ask direct reimbursement for the expenses already paid (such as hotels and travels), while theaters can ask the government to cover the loss in term of tickets.

SPECIAL MEASURES OF THE ITALIAN MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND HERITAGE:
- an emergency fund of 130 million will be managed but the Ministry to help performing arts and cinema, as most affected sectors. 80 million will be dedicated to workers, 50 million to investments.

Advocacy associations have also proposed very concrete solutions to deal with the current situations for the organizations included in the National Performing arts Fund (FUS):
- FUS 2020 single allocations were not yet decided when the emergency started. 2020 is the third year of a triennal allocation basis, meaning  that no new organizations were supposed to be included, but based on quantitative parameters allocations could change every year. Proposal is to just confirm 2019 allocations to everyone immediately, in order to distribute the first tranche of the fund asap and help the liquid asset;
- FUS 2020 is asked to be increased anyway, with a bonus for all the FUS organizations;
- with special funds, it's asked to provide help for the not-FUS organizations.

WHAT IS THE SECTOR DOING?
Online initiatives in Italy started immediately at the end of February. Quite every theatre and every company has started some online activity, including: streaming of shows in empty theaters, webinar and radio programme, online video library, interactive activities for the audience (especially young). It's really impossible to link everything, the number is HUGE and, sincerly, incredible.

Hope it helps also in other countries, I will be back as soon as we have news. Thanks also to everyone is sharing info from other countries!
 

Posted 2 weeks 3 days ago
image of Zane Estere Gruntmane

Good morning everyone,

I hope your strength is shining within you. Here a resource where gathered country-specific information on the implications for the sector and the current measures being taken - for now - Portugal, Czech Republic, Estonia, Irland The Netherlands, Norway and Spain.

Link: https://www.culturalpolicies.net/covid-19/

Keep your spirit up! 
Bom dia!

 

Posted 2 weeks 29 min ago