Culture: when will the sector reopen?

Europe's cultural sector has been even harder hit by the pandemic than its tourism sector. According to an Ernst & Young study, its turnover plunged by 31 percent - or almost 200 billion euros - in 2020, and in the performing arts it dropped by as much as 90 percent. Pilot projects have recently been launched in the UK, Spain and other countries in preparation for rebooting the sector, including concerts attended by people who tested negative for the virus.

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Polityka (PL) /

The dry spell is almost over

The waiting will soon be over, Polityka predicts:

“The chances are good that research results will provide solid conclusions based on scientific facts that enable the organisation of large cultural and sporting events. On that basis, recommendations can be issued that allow people to have fun without increasing the risk of infection. For example, it may soon be possible to organise events, especially open-air ones. ... So we don't have to wait, like in New Zealand [where big events are already taking place], for the virus to be fully contained.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Not a luxury reserved for better times

In Belgium, cultural institutions have presented a plan for opening up to the public once more. De Standaard calls for support for the initiative:

“Those who think that culture is just a luxury for better times are mistaken. It nourishes our community. It not only offers form, colour and beauty, but also confronts us with our existence. It asks questions about society, and has the potential to renew and strengthen it. Culture stimulates creativity, and grounds our identity. It has everything to do with civilisation, and not with elitism. Whats more, the industry also brings in a lot of money. ... Politicians must now quickly provide security so that the cultural sector can relaunch with full force from September. Belgium is among the five leading European countries when it comes to vaccination, so it can take more risks.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

There is indeed a right to party

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung contradicts the statement made by German Health Minister Jens Spahn in an interview that neither the vaccinated nor the unvaccinated have 'a right to party':

“Of course there is a right to do so. ... It's called general freedom of action and can be found in Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Basic Law. ... If the threat posed by the pandemic has been virtually banished for more than six million fully vaccinated people and the government nevertheless makes no effort whatsoever to give these citizens back their rights, should we really be surprised if there are citizens who denounce the fight against the pandemic as an anti-freedom, prohibitionist policy?”

Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

Time to get creative

The pandemic gives the cultural sector an opportunity to try out new ideas and formats, the Aargauer Zeitung points out:

“Now there is an opportunity for the organisers of small and medium-sized events, for alternative, new forms and for a festival summer 'light'. Event organisers can now pull out their plan B and plan C. But they will also need imagination, ingenuity, initiative and flexibility. ... All in all, the positive aspects outweigh the negative ones. The festival summer won't be a complete washout. And anything is better than nothing. New perspectives are opening up for culture, sport and above all for people's well-being. For all those who are yearning for a return to normality.”

Népszava (HU) /

Too soon to celebrate

Despite the still high mortality rate, once 3.5 million Hungarians (in a country of 9.6 million inhabitants) had received their first jab, outdoor food courts were allowed to reopen at the end of April. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also treated himself to a beer al fresco. Writing in Népszava, author Zoltán Nagy isn't yet in the mood to celebrate:

“In view of this reopening, which was based on the vaccination numbers, I can't rejoice without reservations. And that's how things will remain until I learn that not a single one of our fellow citizens has died from a Covid infection. Only once that goal has been achieved will I follow the prime minister's lead and treat myself to a beer.”