External activities | ANALYSIS of the results of the survey "The effect of COVID-19 on the life and work of artists and cultural workers" conducted by JADRO on the emergency situation regarding the effect of the pandemic on the life and work of artists and cultural workers from the independent cultural scene in the Republic of North Macedonia
In order to collect data and provide insight into the damage suffered by artists and cultural workers on the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia from the period of introduction of measures for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, JADRO Association prepared the survey "The Effect of COVID-19 on the Life and Work of Artists and Cultural Workers". The survey was adapted from a questionnaire conducted by the Independent Cultural Scene of Serbia (NKSS) on the territory of the Republic of Serbia that was taken by Culture Venture and Toni Attarda (www.cultureventure.org) and adapted in accordance with the Creative Commons License.
On March 30, 2020 a survey was sent to the members of Jadro, to a wider email list of cultural workers, institutions and organizations, and, at the same time, it was shared through the social networks to all other independent artists and cultural workers living and working in Macedonia. By April 8, 130 responses from individuals in the field of art and culture were collected. The results of the survey, which are summarized here, refer exclusively to activities planned in the period from the beginning of the negative effects of the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The respondents who answered the questionnaire represent a wide range of cultural workers and artists who implement, or are part of independent or institutional culture programs in different cities in Macedonia, and operate in several areas (sometimes simultaneously in few of them). The most numerous are the respondents whose activities are identified in the field of music, with a total number of 73 (i.e. 56.2%), while the interesting conclusion is that a significant number is identified with interdisciplinary practices, as a total of 29 (i.e. 22.3%) which confirms that respondents may be negatively affected in more specific areas (from creative writing to education, or the areas with total number below 5%). The full list and chart confirm the following:
• total of 73 (i.e. 56.2%) from the field of music,
• total of 35 (i.e. 26.9%) from the field of visual arts,
• total of 29 (i.e. 22.3%) from the field of interdisciplinary practices,
• total of 20 (i.e. 15.4%) from the field of theater,
• total of 17 (i.e. 13.1%) from the field of film,
• total of 7 (i.e. 5.4%) from the field of television,
• total of 6 (i.e. 4.6%) from the field of handicrafts,
• total of 5 (i.e. 3.8%) from the field of creative writing,
• total of 5 (i.e. 3.8%) from the field of fashion and design,
• total of 3 (i.e. 3.2%) from the field of dance,
• total of 2 (i.e. 1.5%) from the field of architecture,
• total of 1 (i.e. 0.8%) from the field of education,
• total of 1 (i.e. 0.8%) from the field of journalism,
• total of 1 (i.e. 0.8%) from the field of interior design,
• total of 1 (i.e. 0.8%) from the field of publishing,
• total of 1 (i.e. 0.8%) from the field of graphic design,
• total of 1 (i.e. 0.8%) from the field of archeology,
• total of 1 (i.e. 0.8%) in the field of creative communications,
• total of 1 (i.e. 0.8%) in the field of education.
Some of the involved organizations, in addition of conducting their regular programs at local and national level, which include activities such as concerts, exhibitions, rehearsals, workshops, educations, residences with local and/or international artists, are also implementing extensive international projects, and they are part of international network and program consortia.
Additionally, some individuals and organizations (27 in number, or 37.7%) are members of Jadro Association, and the rest are part of other non-profit associations, organizations and independent spaces that are different in frame of the model of financing and self-financing, which further contributes to dynamic analysis of the implemented results.
Indicators and estimates of the negative effects of the virus COVID-19 on artists and cultural workers from the independent cultural scene
The artists and cultural workers who answered the questionnaire indicated that most of the planned activities (public events, workshops and educations, study visits, exhibitions, etc.) will not be realized during the period of emergency measures against the spread of COVID-19 virus. The mentioned activities are programs and projects financed or co-financed by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of North Macedonia, European funds, other donors and etc.
The answers of 130 respondents indicate that most of the respondents are unemployed, a total of 51 (i.e. 39.2%), 31 respondents (i.e. 23.8%) declared themselves as employed, which can be attributed to the result that 18 respondents (i.e. 13.8%) are with the status of independent and self-employed artists. Occasionally employed, or 14 (i.e. 10.8%) are engaged with a contract with paid contributions, and 10 respondents (i.e. 7.7%) are engaged without paid contributions, as external collaborators. Fewest number of the respondents is identified in the following categories: 1 (i.e. 0.8%) is employed in his own company, 1 (i.e. 0.8%) is occasionally engaged with a contract, 1 (i.e. 0.8%) is a student, 1 (i.e. 0.8%) is a singer, 1 (i.e. 0.8%) is a craftsman and 1 (i.e. 0.8%) is engaged in a non-governmental organization (we assume in the capacity of an intern). The results indicate that a significant percentage of respondents (about 75%) will suffer from cancellation of events in public places, which means that will not be able to receive work benefits.
Out of a total of 130 respondents, 116 (i.e. 89.2%) answered that the introduction of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus adversely affected their work, while 10 respondents (i.e. 7.7%) answered that they could not assess, and only 4 respondents (i.e. 3.1%) answered that they have no effect.
According to the survey until now have been postponed 40 events related to art education; 45 artistic activities and events in public space such as exhibitions and performances; 53 events related to rehearsals, works in process, etc.; 45 music events, DJ sets, club gigs etc.; 49 conferences and seminars; 53 international projects; and 54 workshops are also postponed. Respondents reported that 45 events in the field of art education were completely canceled, as well as 70 artistic events, 52 works in process, 72 musical performances, 57 conferences and seminars, 55 international projects, 59 workshops. 20 projects in the field of art education, 6 art activities, 8 works in process, 5 music events, 5 conferences and seminars, 7 international projects and 5 workshops underwent changes. 25 projects in the field of art education, 9 art activities, 17 works in progress, 3 music events, 19 conferences and seminars, 15 international projects and 12 workshops are being implemented online.
A total of 108 respondents (i.e. 83.1%) answered that have already experienced financial loss, 17 respondents (i.e. 13.1%) are unable to calculate, while 5 (i.e. 3.8%) have stated that they have no financial loss. For 69 respondents (i.e. 53.1%) all financial income is lost, 35 (i.e. 26.9%) answered that they lost most of the income, 9 (i.e. 6.9%) lost a small part of the income, 15 (i.e. 11.5%) are not sure whether they have financial losses and only 2 (i.e. 1.5%) have no losses.
Most of the total, or 47 (i.e. 36.2%) respondents have financial losses between 30-60,000 MKD, 25 (i.e. 19.2%) between 15-30,000 MKD, 15 (or 11.5%) between 60-120,000 MKD, 5 (or 3.8%) less than 30,000 MKD, 4 (i.e. 3.1%) more than 120,000 MKD, 2 (i.e. 1.5%) more than 300,000 MKD, 27 (i.e. 20.8%) are not sure in terms of losses, and 5 (i.e. 3.8%) have no financial losses.
If the current scenario continues, 64 (i.e. 49.2%) respondents predict that the average financial loss on a weekly basis will be 6-12,000 MKD, for 16 (or 12.3%) respondents between 12-24,000 MKD, for 15 (or 11.5%) respondents less than 6,000 MKD, for 6 (i.e. 4.6%) more than 24,000 MKD, 1 (i.e. 3.8%) predicts that there will be no financial losses while 28 (i.e. 21.5%) are not sure how much their financial losses will be per week.
For 87 (i.e. 66.9%) of the respondents answer that the family depends on their income, for 15 (i.e. 11.5%) respondents other artists depend on their income, 8 (i.e. 6.2%) other servicers depend, for 1 (i.e. 0.8%) respondents that the employee depends, while for 19 (i.e. 14.6%) respondents no one depends on their income.
Out of a total of 130 respondents, 96 respondents are worried about providing daily expenses, 51 are moderate, and 7 are not worried. 96 people are most concerned about providing income, 30 are moderate, and 4 are not worried. 74 people are worried about respecting the agreement, 40 are moderate and 9 are not worried. 68 people are concerned about personal well-being, 56 are moderate, and 7 are not worried. 89 people are worried about future engagements, and 9 are moderately worried. 71 people are worried about creating new works, 42 are moderate, and 19 are not worried.
Some individuals in the survey were appealing that the state or the Ministry of Culture should help all those artists who, whether registered or not, are prevented from earning an income.
The cultural sector is the first that directly and immediately is effected by the new situation, and the last to revive once the situation is over.
Respondents point out that, in addition to organizations and project organizers, those artists or participants who have been invited to take part in projects and cultural events, and who cannot be paid at the moment because they do not know if and when those events will take place, also have financial loss, and they have already counted on the fees they were expecting to receive from the associations/organizers. The same applies to those associates who are engaged as technical staff in organizing events.
Reactions were expressed that some of the donors, that are supporting certain projects, insisted that the grantees hold online lectures in April with the planned international participants, not accepting the initiative to postpone the projects until September 2020 when the situation will be more stable. They allow themselves to make changes in the budget, changing the amounts provided for the event for which the payment is also uncertain during this period, without taking into account the situation that the organization is not able to provide co-financing in this period for the event to be held even online.
The survey also expressed the opinion that the Ministry of Culture should make certain corrections in its working methods and that they should announce an application for independent self-employed artists for more than once in a year, but also to open the criteria for individuals in other areas that are not covered by the call (such as independent curators or interdisciplinary authors).
One of the proposals in the survey was that after the crisis, the employees' colleagues should give preference to the unemployed colleagues in order to be the first that can start their projects in the institutions and cultural spaces, so that they could have at least some fee for survival.
Some of the respondents reacted to the accusations from the state administration that independent art and culture are in themselves unprofitable, which is certainly not true, should be a subject of further serious debate. They point out that complete analyses of all positive and negative tendencies that directly and indirectly affect the sustainability of the self-employed cultural workers (including the new ones as well as the long-term and established entities) which are recognized both locally and internationally, are very much needed.
PROPOSALS FOR SOME FUTURE STEPS
1. Support provided by the Ministry of Culture of Republic of North Macedonia for 2020
• Ministry of Culture should find a way to distribute the planned budget for 2020, which means all agreements to be signed urgently, and to make immediate payment of approved and agreed funds for projects for 2020, in order to enable organizations (and individuals) to survive, to keep their space and the working team.
• To allow supported activities to be modified with related or similar activities, so that the given support do not have to be returned for non-fulfillment of obligations (e.g. for realization of online programs and activities, recognition of domestic expenses required for work, etc.). As well as to enable organizations and individuals to propose new or additional activities that they can implement within the support they have received.
• If the organizations have more than one approved program or project funded by the Ministry of Culture, to enable transfer of funds from one project to another, so that the organizations have more flexibility in managing the received funding.
• Organizational/overhead costs to be recognized as costs important for the implementation of the project in a minimum amount of 30% and to enable financing or co-financing of overhead costs (overhead costs for using home space as a workspace, rental space, employee salaries, accounting, etc.) through approved support from the Ministry.
• To ensure payment of fees in advance (minimum 80%) in cases of late implementation of the activity if the contractor estimates that the program can be performed with a later date.
• To show flexibility in the timeframe and the implementation of the idea of the given indicators of the project, as a result that certain number of activities will not be possible to perform as they have been planned.
• To extend the deadline for the implementation of the program for those organizations that will not be able to carrying out their activities due to closed spaces etc.
• To recognize the executed costs so far in organizing activities and programs, despite cancellations or delays in their implementation (e.g. canceled airplane tickets, running costs, etc.).
2. Grants from European funds
• To speed up the implementation of the Community Media Competition 1 which is in the process of being evaluated and to enable the Community Media to be used as platforms for the maintenance of the program.
• To speed up the implementation of the published calls for ECF for youth, culture and civic activities, announced in the first half of 2020, in order to provide additional funding.
• To facilitate the development of digital platforms/distribution channels that will enable the maintenance of part of the program in a different (online) form, as well as to provide funding for the development of digital platforms from the funds available for "Community Media 2 " at the ECF (European Culture Foundation).
• To increase the approved funds through all means due to the inability to function caused by the cancellation of own funds for participation that are part of the overall organizational and program functioning - in cases when the funds of the Ministry of Culture and other donors are not enough to execute all aspects of the program (e.g. 30% of agreed funds).
3. Cooperation with local self-government
• Commitment on local and regional level that the funds for supporting activities of organizations and individuals for 2020 will not to be reduced, and also a remainder unpaid project grants for 2019 to be completed.
• Recommendation for proposals for measures for recognition of activities and costs for the units of local and regional self-government, as well as for all other donors of the cultural and civil sector (including projects for ECF where the Ministry of Culture is PT1)
• Recommendation to the local self-government, the City of Skopje and the local municipalities, cultural organizations that are managing one of their premises to be exempted from paying all current debts for renting the space and the utilities, as well as to stop with the payments of all new obligations related to the use of the space
• In cooperation with the local self-government units and the Ministry of State Property, in case of resumption of the program and due to the obvious spatial deficiencies, to provide a list of available spaces for organizations and independent artists that can be used free of charge in order to perform the planned activities
• Recommendation to ZAMP (Musical Copyright Society of Macedonia) for exemption from paying fees
• To establish a cooperation with the MRT (Macedonian Radio and Television) regarding the distribution of program content on MRT.
The survey and analysis were prepared by: Hristina Ivanoska (Board Member of Kooperativa - Regional Cultural Platform, Zagreb and member of Jadro Associjacija), Yane Calovski (President of Jadro Association), Jovanka Popova (Board Member of Jadro Association).
For more information:
JADRO - Association of the Independent Cultural Scene
St. Albert Ajnshtajn no. 2, MK 1000 Skopje