September 25, 2020

The music sector is dying in the absence of measures to survive the coronavirus crisis: “The situation is catastrophic”


The economic crisis of the coronavirus is affecting practically all sectors. The summer has been marked by the situation of the hotel industry or tourism, but the economic disaster is even more acute if possible in precarious professions and few regulations. This is the case for musicians in general and for live performances in particular. During these months they have had to cancel or postpone concerts, they have seen the space of the venues reduced and they continue to demand aid from the Government to try to survive with uncertainty in the middle of an adverse situation of which the end is not even in sight.

“It is estimated that we are around 700,000 people, who at the moment are mostly unemployed. And the part of the artists is the most visible, but it is not the only one”, explains to elDiario.es Ana Alonso, spokesperson for Red alert, a movement that includes individual associations, companies and professionals that has called a series of mobilizations for this Thursday, September 17. The intention is to give visibility to the situation that all the professionals who are part of the entertainment and events sector are experiencing with all the professionals who compose it.

“There was a call from the Ministry of Culture with the idea of ​​sitting down and talking, but that went absolutely nothing. The associations have felt completely abandoned and deceived,” adds Alonso. In fact, Red Alert decided not attend the last meeting scheduled by the Minister of Culture, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, because, according to the spokesperson, they believed that it was more prudent to wait until after the mobilization and have the presence of other ministries that they consider necessary to put a solution, such as those of Tourism, Finance or Labor. “It seems that if you don’t protest and you don’t make noise there is no audience,” adds the spokeswoman.

elDiario.es has contacted the Ministry of Culture and Sports and they limit themselves to pointing out that “they have absolute respect for any protest” and that despite the fact that Alert Red declined to go to the previous meeting “they are open to dialogue”, but not They give more details on whether they will incorporate any new measures to help the sector or whether they will accept any of those already proposed by the groups.

Who was in the meeting with Uribes was Kin Martínez, president of the federation Es_Música, which includes the nine most important associations in the sector, and manager of artists such as Xoel Lopez or Vetusta Morla. However, his forecasts are not entirely optimistic: “The productive sector of culture is in danger of extinction. And if we lose the value chain, by not having public and regulated training, recovery is not going to be difficult, is that there will not be “.

Despite the fact that initially the Government did not intend to announce specific measures for culture (“first life and then cinema”, Uribes said), they finally yielded to pressure and in March approved aid from 75 million euros, of which 38 were destined to the performing arts and music. Later they also increased the budgetary allocation of aid to music up to over 16.5 million euros, which are still considered insufficient for a sector that according to the latest Government’s Cultural Statistics Yearbook contributes 3.2% of GDP to Spain.

“If Spain is going to receive 140 billion euros from Europe for the recovery fund, the logical thing would be for the culture of this country to have 3.2% of that amount,” says the representative of Es_Música, who gives as an example the 2 billion rescue plan euros recently approved by France for culture after it already granted another 5,900. “Europe believes in a budgetary and strategic point of view of culture that historically has not been respected in Spain, because this has happened with all governments of all colors and ideologies,” he denounces.

This occurs when, in addition, Spain is considered # 1 in the world as a travel destination for music festivals, many of them postponed until 2021. “A unified legal framework is not perceived that allows the tranquility of the promoter even complying with a series of security measures, since practically until the day they celebrate the event they do not know if they will have the authorization or not from the autonomous community, “explains Belén Álvarez, a lawyer in charge of representing the Music Festival Association (FMA). It is a problem because, as the Red Alert spokesperson adds, “the promoters are scared and if they do not risk betting on an event, the entire production chain that follows does not work.”

The invisible faces behind the scenes

“When people go to a theater or a concert there are people who are visible, but also a group of invisible workers who are the entire technical body, assemblers and transporters who are usually behind,” emphasize Juan Aguirre and Eva Amaral, who They have postponed their main tour and massive performances until 2021 to perform a series of acoustic concerts in venues with limited capacity.

“We must not only think of consolidated groups that we are fortunate to be able to tour in summer and winter with and without a pandemic. We must also take into account emerging artists and projects that need time, because the concern is as broad as it is broad. the sector “, add the members of Amaral.

Pablo Muzquiz, vice president of the Professional Union of Musicians, highlights one of those sectors: the festivals. “The situation is really catastrophic. They have remained unemployed because all the municipalities have suspended their popular festivals. These people, who for four months have been beaten tremendously, now they have zeroed out because they only live on summer and this has already ended. finished, “he laments.

There is another added problem: capacity restrictions. “If you can travel a stuck train for four hours, why can’t you go to a jazz club? Even without drinking, so as not to remove your mask. In the Madrid metro you can go crowded, but not go to a concert with the adequate sanitary measures “, criticizes Muzquiz.

In the same vein is Juan Aguirre, who highlights how the Health protocol has been respected at all times in the more than 20 performances they have on their acoustic tour. “I would invite our public representatives, starting with the Minister of Culture and his team, to receive faithful information on how a concert is organized in a space such as the Alcalá de Henares festival, where 13,000 people fit and there are 800 separate”, Add.

For its part, the Ministry of Culture points out to this newspaper that the gauges “are regional powers” and refer to the meeting that Uribe will have this Thursday with the communities to “try to reach a consensus on some type of solution to the problem they pose.”

Measures that seek to be heard

Last May the Government launched a series of measures to support music, such as credit lines or extraordinary access to unemployment benefit, but of them they remained was a large part of professionals. “I know that much less than half could benefit from these measures. As they are not regulated by a sector-specific collective agreement, such as the famous Statute of the Artist, when generic regulations are produced, many people are left out,” Kin observes Martinez.

For this reason, mobilizations like those of this Thursday try to denounce the lack of measures for the activation of the music industry. The most urgent thing, according to the Red Alert spokesperson, “is that since March there are people who are not charging a single euro, which means that there are families having a hard time and without looking to a short-term recovery.”

But solving the most immediate obstacles would not be enough. “We have to work in the future, so that we are not caught in a precarious situation like the one we are in right now. But for that we need unified doctrines. It does not make sense that we have 17 different regulations, so it is impossible to plan tours and development normal activity “, proposes the president of Es_Música in addition to the many other solutions collected in the report prepared by the federation since March and since then they seek to be heard.

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