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Music is one of the first sectors hit by the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. It will also be one of the last.
As borders close, venues as well as festivals suspend their activities, performances are cancelled, group activity is stopped, shops close, and new releases are put on hold, the entire creative value chain is stalling. Artists and their management, performers, composers, songwriters, music educators, conductors, booking agents, record shops, labels, publishers, distributors, promoters, manufacturers, technicians, events managers and event staff count among the many actors of the ecosystem whose livelihoods are on the line.
These risks will persist, even after the public health emergency is solved. The stark reality is that profound harm will be felt long into 2021 due to how the music ecosystem operates.
In light of this dire situation, we call for emergency as well as sustainable public support and structural policies at EU, national, regional and local level to consolidate the music ecosystem, and help it thrive again in all its diversity.
The signed music organisations urge Member States and the European Commission to take a stance and significantly increase the national and EU budgets dedicated to culture, and within that to music. Secondly, under the EU Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, it is imperative that each Member State provides Europe’s creative sector with swift and comprehensive access to Structural Funds in order to offset the harm in the shorter term.
The full magnitude of the current turmoil will build for months and the number of casualties will be high. Even when the complete standstill ends, the crisis will continue due to hyper saturation of events and new releases and audiences will be unpredictable.
All this points to a slow recovery, with less job opportunities, less participation in music and less room for artistic risk-taking. Jobs and diversity are at stake.
At the same time, we see how important the cultural sectors are in promoting solidarity and in providing rallying points. Within the confines of their homes, artists and DJs have been streaming their own live performances to fight isolation by engaging online communities. Drawing upon the example of Italy, citizens from across Europe gather on their balconies to play music and regain a shared sense of common purpose.
This reminds us that music is a vehicle to recreate a sense of community. In times of containment and pressure, music builds bridges between individuals and cultures irrespective of social, ethnic, cultural backgrounds.
Music and culture are essential to offer citizens the renewed social and cultural bond that Europe will sorely need.
As decision makers reflect on how to address the crisis, culture must be recognised as a priority sector.