Since the outbreak of Covid-19 early this year in China and other Asian countries the live performance sector started to be impacted by cancelled tours. When the crisis finally hit Europe, governments reacted by prohibiting first large gatherings and soon after of all sizes: Concerts, performances and shows were cancelled one after the other.
Today it is clear that for the live performance sector the crisis is without precedent and will have a long-lasting impact as recovery is expected to go slowly and phased exit strategies can always be interrupted by a new wave of infection.
In this section, we give an overview about Pearle* action, statements and co-signed papers since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis.
Pearle* launches the 2021 map of Europe presenting the phases of re-opening of venues and cultural live events
Following the initiative launched in May 2020, Pearle* published on the 10th February 2021 a new edition of the Map of Europe presenting the updates on the re-opening of venues for live cultural events.
Based on the information provided by Pearle* members, the map shows the different situations from country to country, with some countries allowing performances for a smaller audience, others allowing rehearsals, whilst in many countries live performances stay closed until further notice.
Over the past year, the live performance sector has proven its capacity to manage the risks for rehearsals and performances. It has also fully proven its expertise on how to manage audiences. In the meantime, various scientific studies provide evidence of the fact that it is absolutely possible to reopen venues and hold open air events in safe conditions for workers and audience. It’s time for governments to give the sector an outlook. Live events matter to people. Providing citizens with a perspective of when they will be able to see a live concert or performance again is an important sign of hope to society.
The 2021 2021 map can be accessed here.
The map will be continuously updated according to information received.
The map with the evolution during 2020 can be accessed here.
As a red thread through all the sessions, members discussed topics related to Covid-19, such as ventilation systems for live venues and events to mitigate the risk of infection, mobility impediments for touring companies and artists, new and extended state aid schemes for the cultural sector in the crisis, support measures under the recovery and resilience facility and new skills to be acquired for new ways of working.
Pearle call: Give Live Performance A Future
The paper puts forward three pillars on which the recovery of the sector should be built: Survive, Invest, Resilience. It also provides concrete input in which way the EU and Member States should provide targeted support through the EU recovery package and other policy measures and programmes.
Call of the Social Partners for a coordinated action plan
The urgent call for action echoes the concerns and demands of representatives of national employers’ and workers’ organisations voiced during the October 13th webinar “Covid 19: Outlook for the Live Performance Sector and Measures Needed”, jointly organized by PEARLE* and the EAEA
Pearle* statement on Covid-19: Call for targeted measures
Following on to the first initiative, In this statement of March 19th, Pearle* underlines the need for specific and targeted measures both for immediate and long-term action to put all those involved back on track when the crisis has ended. These measures should include clarification on state aid rules, force majeure, consumer rules and an initiative to suspend cross-border artiste taxation. Member States are called to take targeted measures in the field of employment (especially for freelancers), tax policy, financial matters, grants or subsidies
Joint statement of the social partners in the live performance
In a first statement on March 12th, at the beginning of lockdown in various European countries, the international trade-unions IAEA (including FIM, FIA, UNI-MEI) and Pearle* urge governments to take emergency measures in support of the live performance. They recall that without appropriate support measures, the cancelling of live events, performances and shows will have devastating economic and social consequences on the live performance sector. They also underline the much needed support for freelancers in the sector.
Covid-19 special news and Pearle* members’ exchange
The special news series on different topics and policy fields aims at supporting Pearle* members in their daily operations in the field of live performance by informing about applicable EU law, relevant EU help schemes and programmes, actions and meetings of European institutions.
For the time being, the following issues were covered and are available for Pearle* members:
Pearle also initiated virtual members meetings and is collecting information on the following topics:
Pearle provided an overview to the members of all European countries on targeted funding for the sector, specific employment measures, legal initiatives or negotiated agreements, dialogue with ministries of culture, innovative initiatives. Members from Germany, Netherlands, Estonia, France, Sweden, Belgium and Italy made presentations on the issues mentioned.
Pearle provided an overview of the exit strategies for reopening theatres and cultural activities in the different European countries and presented guidance developed to prepare for going back to the workplace through risk assessment and prevention plans. Members from Norway, Czechia and Spain presented exit strategy plans.
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the shift to digital in the live performance sector. How will the sector look like in the future and how to find a balance between digital and live? Participants got insights into digital storrytelling and strategies of new digital tools of Finnish orchestras.
Pearle* gave an overview on health and safety measures and international guidelines regarding the corona virus. A collection of prevention protocols and guidance from different Member States is available for Pearle* members in English translation. Members from France, Germany, Austria and Denmark presented guidelines and concrete cases how theatres and venues can re-open their doors for the audience.
Exchange of Culture ministers
On 18 May 2020, Culture Ministers from the EU Member States will have another exchange on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the cultural sector.
Pearle drafted an open letter to the Commission, the Culture Ministers and the EU presidency to call upon a joint and proportionate approach of European ministers of Culture when reopening cultural activities with a live audience in context of Covid19 exit strategies.
The letter points out that there is no common approach across Europe regarding the timeline to re-open venues for the audience. Countries that are allowing again performances with audiences have very different approaches.
Whereas it is the aim of the live performance sector to open at full capacity under specific health prevention conditions, some countries choose a phased approach and base the threshold of admitted people to a venue on an absolute number without taking into account the available space.
On 8 April 2020, Culture Ministers from all 27 EU Member States virtually met to discuss national and European measures to mitigate the impact of the Corona crisis on the cultural sector. Pearle* - Live Performance Europe welcomed the initiative of the Croatian Presidency in organising the exchange.
In a press release reacting to the presentations of Commissioner Gabriel and Croatian minister of culture Obuljen Pearle* also underlined the extreme urgency to give immediate and long term support for the live performance.
Culture Ministers expressed concerns about the quick recovery of cultural sectors after the immediate crisis and announced to assess the post crisis period and look into joint action.
Ahead of the meeting, Pearle* provided input by proposing concrete measures in different policy fields how to tackle the immediate and post effects of the crisis.
Pearle* called upon the Culture Council to develop a Strategic Action Plan and to urgently relate with the Employment Council, the Economic & Financial Affairs Council and the Competitiveness Council to ensure that measures are accessible for the cultural sector and that targeted solutions are provided when not fitting into general support schemes.
Exchange with EU policy makers
On 26 June, Pearle* joined the first stakeholder meeting of ‘CreativesUnite’ in dialogue with Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, Minister Nina Obuljen-Korzinek (Croatian presidency) and the MEPs Sabine Verheyen, Petra Kammerevert, Christian Ehler. The aim of the meeting was to reflect on what has been done till now in response to the crisis and to plan together for a new future.
MEPs support cultural and creative sectors in corona crisis and remind of the essential role of culture
In an open letter to be signed online, a large group of Members of the European Parliament demand for support of the cultural and creative sectors from the EU and Member States.
In the letter, MEP ask for access of the cultural and creative sectors to EU emergency aids, financial schemes and unemployment and social benefits at the national level. The letter also reminds of the importance of cultural offers during the crisis, stating: “With millions of citizens confined in their homes, it is music, films, books and online performances that represent a source of solace and hope. They are an essential factor of psychological well-being and play a key role in strengthening the sense of community and inclusivity of our society.” The letter also underlines the long-term effects of the crisis and that Europe’s cultural richness and diversity could be at stake without appropriate measures.
The #saveEUculture initiative has been supported, including Pearle* and its members, by the wider cultural community.
Calls and statements from stakeholder coalitions signed by Pearle*
30 October - Open letter "Make culture central in the EU recovery". Together with other 109 pan-European cultural networks and associations, Pearle* signed a letter to the European Union and National Governments calling to protect culture as part of the coronavirus recovery plans and dedicate at the very least 2% of national Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) budget to culture and creative sectors.
5 October - 26 European organisations signed open letters to Commissioners Breton (Internal Market) and Gentiloni (Economy) to urge for appropriate support via InvestEU 2021-2027.
8 September - European Tourism Manifesto Alliance urges EU governments in a joint call to agree on harmonised travel restrictions. The alliance applauds renewed efforts of the European Commission as well as the initiative from the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union to improve coordination on cross-border travel and restore the integrity of the Schengen area.
18 June - 99 cultural organisations sign the call "Investing in Europe's next generation by investing in culture", uniting their voices to alert EU leaders that our sector needs strong and systemic support measures to recover from this crisis. The proposed recovery plan of the Commission doesn't reflect the reality of the sector, which is one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis.
3 June - CAE call "Uphold culture in the EU budget"
30 April - In a second letter to the Commission, CAE calls for further explanation on issues related to eligibility, match-funding and co-financing rates, budgetary shifts and effects of the MFF extension on networks funded by Creative Europe.
28 April – Open letter to EU leaders : Culture needs Europe and Europe needs Culture
2 April - Joint statement of the music sector to call for EU and national investment to address the current crisis.
28 March - In an open letter Culture Action Europe points out the effects of Covid-19 on Creative Europe and the CCS and advocates for an increased flexibility of Creative Europe program during and after the pandemic.