Covid-19 impact: Creative economy workforce concerned about survival, says survey

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on December 24, 2020

67% uncertain about surviving for more than a year with current resources

The British Council, FICCI and Art X Company jointly launched the second edition of the ‘Taking the Temperature’ survey to gauge the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on India’s creative economy. The survey sought to understand the economic state and sentiment of the creative sector workforce including artists.

The second edition of the ‘Taking the Temperature’ report provides a comparison of the situation in India since the outbreak of Covid-19, the consequent national lockdown (March-June), and the period following the relaxation of the lockdown (July-October). It further underlines the continued uncertainty in the creative sector which, it said, poses a risk to its long-term survival if emergency action is not taken.

The report said creative industries comprise sectors such as advertising, architecture, arts and culture festivals, crafts, design and fashion, literature and publishing, museums, heritage and public monuments. They also include new media arts including gaming, film and video; performing arts including music, dance, theatre; public and street art; TV and radio; venues including theatre, cinema, galleries and parks; visual arts including painting, illustration, photography and sculpture. “Together these make an

important contribution to the national wealth and international reputation of any country,” it said.

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As the lockdown was relaxed, the income streams for the creative workforce remained inconsistent and sporadic, pointing towards a bleak outlook for India’s informal creative economy, said the report.

Among its key findings, it said 67 per cent of surveyed respondents are uncertain that they can survive for more than a year with current resources and funding. Individual professionals and artisans are facing short-term hand-to-mouth existence even as sectors are adapting to digital and live business models to stay afloat.

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Social distancing impact

The report noted that 90 per cent of the sector fears the long-term impact of social distancing on the creative economy, an increase of 4 per cent from the previous survey.

The creative economy is contracting, with 16 per cent of the sector facing permanent closure. While organisations are closing permanently to avoid bankruptcy, 22 per cent of the sector is forecast to lose more than 75 per cent of its annual income.

About 26 per cent of arts businesses fear they will not be able to continue in the last two quarters of FY21. Also, creative businesses are contending with increasingly difficult choices to remain resilient. Some are changing careers.

Jonathan Kennedy, Director Arts India, British Council, said in a statement: "Since March 2020, the British Council has worked with partners to understand and address the impact of Covid-19 on India’s creative economy. Through in-depth surveying, Taking the Temperature reports draw comparisons, developments, and changes for the creative economy since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020."

Rashmi Dhanwani, Founder-Director, Art X Company, said in a statement: "It is clear the creative organisations and artists who have explored new possibilities of culture-making in the digital space have come out stronger during the pandemic.”

She added: “There is a gap in levels of digital literacy within the creative community and governments as well as corporates must step up to close this gap so that the sector is ready for future uncertainties."

Creative MSMEs

Sanjoy Roy, Co-chair, Creative and Cultural Industries, FICCI, said: "The Covid-19 pandemic's impact has been felt in MSMEs, the backbone of India's economy. Creative MSMEs work with limited resources and minimal infrastructure for survival. Without the safety nets and policy-level intervention, their revival is challenging and may take longer than anticipated earlier.”

“While some State governments have provided emergency grants for relief to artists and cultural organisations, key segments of the creative sector have not benefited as most are part of the informal economy. For sustainable progress of these segments, robust creative and collaborative networks need to be forged,” he added.

Published on December 24, 2020

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