Czech musicians among cultural sectors most affected by coronavirus measures, DAMU/VŠE says

Illustrative photo: fernandozhiminaicela/Pixabay, CC0

A research project mapping the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the Czech cultural sector – from the fine arts, to music and theatre – has just published its initial findings. The aim is not just to tally the financial losses but also to help the sector navigate its gradual return to “normal”.

Illustrative photo: fernandozhiminaicela/Pixabay,  CC0
Half a billion crowns in the month of March alone. That’s how much the cultural sector lost in revenue in the first month of social-distancing restrictions and outright closures, according to ongoing research by Prague’s Theatre Academy of Performing Arts (DAMU) and University of Economics (VŠE).

The joint project aims to map the long-term impacts of the pandemic on cultural organizations and individual artists and artisans. The data will then go to all relevant institutions, professional groups, researchers – and policymakers – so they can take informed decisions. That means asking questions to get scores of quantifiable data points, explains research project leader, Petr Prokop from DAMU’s production department.

“We’re looking to determine how big a hit the cultural sector has taken during the crisis, in terms of how much revenue they have lost. We’re also trying to determine what the impact has been on artisans and employees of cultural organizations, whether there have been redundancies or salary cuts. We’re also asking how well they were prepared for the crisis – whether they were in trouble before or it’s a new development.”

Petr Prokop,  photo: Khalil Baalbaki,  ČRo
Data collected from over 300 entities include the number of employees or people on contract at an institution, their typical seasonal and annual turnover, ticket sales, attendance and visitation. The researchers have had the highest response rate from people working in the music field – which will be the most affected segment in the summer if not already the spring, says Jakub Grosman of VŠE’s arts management department.

“If we look at the total cost to the cultural sector, so lost venue and expenses, it comes to half a billion crowns lost in the month of March alone. Looking at the theatre, music and fine arts segments, it’s the music segment where we can see the most rapid and steep decline. That’s partly because it is not as subsidized as say galleries and museums. Unlike with theatres, the main music festival season is in the summer, so the losses will soon be even more dramatic.”

Illustrative photo: Barbora Němcová
DAMU’s Petr Prokop adds that in the case of theatres, the immediate financial decline in March was less significant than expected, but estimates for April are already rising. The data show the impact on the theatre segment will be primarily of a long-term nature, at a time when costs are rising year-on-year, and theatres were already stagnating financially.

The data will continued to be collected on a monthly basis until at least this autumn, and later on a quarterly basis. The joint DAMU/VŠE research team hope to help answer whether artists, artisans and institutions have received sufficient support while anti-coronavirus restrictions are eased and eventually lifted.