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Lockdowns Have Knocked Down the Performing Arts in Europe

Audience at a show
The performing arts sector was severely hurt by COVID-19

Europe’s creative arts industry has been devastated by the covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, a European Authors’ Society (GESAC) study reported that the industry, which represents 4.4% of the EU’s GDP, posted a decrease of EUR 198 billion, a 30% from the previous year.

Of all the creative sectors that have been shaken over the past year, it is the performing arts in Europe that have been decimated by the public safety lockdowns imposed across most of the continent. While these measures may have been necessary to protect the citizens of Europe, they caused a harrowing 90% decrease in revenue, which represents a shattering loss of EUR 200 billion.

Movie theatres have also been hard hit by these safety measures with a 69% drop in box-office numbers, representing a decrease of EUR 4 billion from the previous year. Movie theatres are on the brink of bankruptcy without a clear indicator of when people will be able to return to these venues.

A music festival
Governments across Europe have programs to support the entertainment industry

Calls for Government Assistance

Representatives of theatre, music, film, and the video-gaming industries in Europe have united with one voice to call for increased governmental assistance to stimulate an industry-wide, cross-continental recovery from the damage suffered as a consequence of the pandemic. The GESAC report aimed to raise awareness of how important Europe’s entertainment business is to the overall health of the economy. The industry has a greater market share than Europe’s automobile, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical industries. GESAC has made a clear call for the government to play an elevated role in returning financial health to the industry and is calling for “massive public financing” to stimulate a recovery.

A Change in How Europeans Consume Content

The pandemic has not slowed down the public demand for content and entertainment, but it has shifted how people are consuming entertainment, with a distinct shift to online services. In addition to its call for public financing, GESAC has called on the government to ramp up its legal protections for artists to be able to protect their content online and preserve their royalties.

Royalties Are Down

In spite of the shift to online entertainment, GESAC reported that royalties from collection agencies were down 35% in 2020, and revenues anticipated from digital sources did not compensate for the losses experienced in brick-and-mortar stores. The music industry, in particular, has seen a steep decline in sales, also posting a 35% decrease against a modest increase of 8 percent in their digital revenue.

A Call For Help From a Damaged Industry

Governments across Europe have stepped up with programs to support the entertainment industry, including tax relief measures and subsidies, but many creatives hit by the effects of the pandemic insist that these measures are insufficient to save the industry and correct the economic devastation. The European entertainment industry employs up to 7.6 million people across the continent, and they are of one voice when they say that more needs to be done.