How entertainment industry workers reacted to the damage caused by Covid-19.
The Covid-19 situation has weakened the careers of workers in almost every field and workplace. It has shown how fragile the balances of our economic system are. It has affected the world of work threatening the well-being of millions and raising the risk of poverty for many families. In fact, according to the International Labour Organisation, the majority, namely, 93%, of the world workers reside in countries in which workplace closure has happened during this year.
One of the fields that has been affected the most is culture and the entertainment industry, which consists of film production, radio, television but also magazines, live shows, music and books. We all use products of this industry on a daily basis, often without realising the enormous and complex machine that works to deliver those products.
The Covid-19 situation and the consequent lockdown highlighted the lack of awareness society and institutions have of the entertainment universe and its workers. To understand how the industry is dealing with the Covid-19 challenge, I recently met up with Cristian Guzzon, 41, the head of Doc Net Cooperative in La Spezia, the leading Italian arts and show business cooperative. To respect social distancing, I interviewed Mr. Guzzon on Skype. He was speaking from the living room of his house, and he was wearing a purple hoodie.
LVN: How do you think the Covid-19 situation affected the entertainment industry?
CG: I think that this industry, like other industries, has been severely affected. The jobs that concern the arts, music, culture and entertainment have been cut: workers have not been able to work since February, and the recovery has not really begun. The conditions to make a recovery and to restart the economy are not there yet. Also, because of the second Covid-19 wave, there is the risk of losing many specific skilled professionals and workforce, especially regarding technical setups and facilities. In Italy, some of the most talented and skilled professionals have had to reinvent themselves.
LVN: How is the industry dealing with the Covid-19 situation in practice?
CG: This industry completely understood the importance of this crisis. The sector has always been particularly sensitive to these issues as it can reorganise flows between people. From the normative point of view, the organisation can deal with it, proof of this was the Jazz Festival organised in Sardinia: during this event, no infections occurred. We should compare this case with other events organised by other businesses which have caused severe damage by spreading the virus.
LVN: Do you think that the State and its institutions have protected and valued the workers of this industry?
CG: This situation has shown the condition in which people in my field of work, letting us understand the lack of awareness of people belonging to it also for what concerns regulatory gaps. What proved it is that in the first phase of the crises, organisations and associations like DOC Servizi gave representation to this industry asking for a reformation in the world of entertainment in normative rules. This kind of field was not really known and recognised, as the Decreto Cura Italia has shown: for the first time ever, the word “entertainment” was mentioned in a decree. However, in such document, the needs of the workers in the industry were not recognised. Also, a circular published in February proposed undignified and unacceptable conditions to workers, who regularly pay their taxes.
LVN: What have workers of this category done to have their rights recognised?
CG: My industry asked for the monthly payments of March, April and May. Indeed, these workers did not have any safety net and they’re still fighting to get the bonus that many still have not received.
LVN: What events have industry workers organised?
CG: They have created Fas (Arts and Entertainment Forum), a forum that took place in Bologna in September. This gave the possibility to different workers in the industry to cooperate, representing an important reform proposal. Also, members and technicians belonging to the show business sector created groups like “Chiamate Noi”, and demonstrations like “Bauli in Piazza” in collaboration with “We Make Events”, or others like “La Musica Che Gira” in which the insiders gathered to ask for representation.
LVN: Do you think our society values Arts and entertainment adequately?
CG: I think arts and culture should be a fundamental pillar in an advanced country because where art and culture are created – value is created. We should not underestimate the fact that all of these workers, representing creativity, produce a huge economy which is fundamental in our country. We are used to focusing only on traditional areas like big concerts and theatre shows. However, there is a huge sector that works for local festivals and small fairs that are very close to Italian territories, and this is often ignored. We cannot even really quantify the number of people involved in it. Instead, what this crisis should teach us for the future is how to strengthen less known categories and professionals. We should educate workers and organisers to a culture of legality incentivised by the State. We do this by counting all of the events that happen in our country. This is the only way we can protect our workers.
Covid-19 and lockdown have highlighted a reality that most of us often forget about, and the coming months will not be better for the economy, especially for some areas and industries. This situation particularly weakened the entertainment industry that is now moving towards a greater awareness of itself by asking institutions to acknowledge its rights.
Workers have organised demonstrations and events in order to let people become more conscious about the fact that entertainment is created and kept alive by people that the audience cannot see. They work behind the stage; they work in the organisation; they work during the production of events and artistic content.
This period was tough for them, but, at the same time, it gave them the possibility to fight for a common cause and create a better work environment. The members of this varied and diverse industry joined forces in order to make their voice heard.
They got organised to get recognised.