Gaining Insights From The EU On Rebuilding The US Cultural Sector

Back in the saddle and one of the first things I wanted to jump into is a report by EY Consulting about the cultural and creative economy in the European Union (EU) before and after COVID-19 (h/t Rainer Glaap).

This is one of the first reports I’ve seen that focuses on concrete before/after impact on the broader cultural sector. Here’s how the authors describe the report:

What was their economic situation before the COVID-19 crisis? What impact has the crisis had on activity and employment? And what are the main priorities for the sector to protect itself from the most serious consequences, to recover growth and enhance its value in the European economy? This study follows a report of the same type, entitled Creating Growth, published in December 2014.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • In 2020, the [EU] cultural and creative economy lost approximately 31% of its revenues.
  • Total performing arts revenues may fall by 90% and music revenues by 76% due to massive restrictions on concerts, plays and performances for most of 2020.
  • 1 out of 8 museums may never reopen.
  • The challenge for the coming months is to restore confidence: 46% of respondents said they would be uncomfortable going to a concert for several months, and 21% said they would be uncomfortable going for several years.

While there will always be differences between EU and US cultural sector, that doesn’t mean they are devoid of similarities. To that end, the report includes a number of recommendations to meet the challenges of rebuilding head on. The first one out of the gate is the need for massive public funding and increased private support in the cultural and creative businesses and nonprofit orgs. They go one step more by including cultural and creative entrepreneurs and creators alongside those larger institutions.

The second recommendation is where things get interesting. In addition to the obvious need for funding, they underscore the importance of ensuring a solid legal framework. To better define that, they include the following examples:

  • Provide fair remuneration and sustainable conditions for creators and their business partners.
  • Ensure a rapid and effective implementation of the recently adopted directives on copyright and related rights in order to enable creators and the wider rights holder community.
  • Promote cultural entrepreneurship for future generations by incentivizing mandatory courses on cultural entrepreneurship, sustainable management, legal training and European programs in arts schools.
  • Incentivize partnerships between engineering schools and art schools to foster tech and cultural entrepreneurship.

Be sure to download the entire report. In addition to being a useful data resource, it’s has the added benefit of being wonderfully designed. It’s a genuine pleasure to look at.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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