Culture, art, and the entire creative industry have suffered greatly under the yoke of the coronavirus restrictions. The industry has been under constraints for a long time, while the activities of many other industries have not been restricted as severely. Freelancers, in particular, have not received sufficient financial support. The industry is in great distress and needs help quickly.
Economic distress is not a choice
The protracted plight of the industry reveals something of the appreciation given to creative work. From time to time, there have even been views that the creation of art is not a real job and that the solution to the economic distress is to find a different job. One of the people to comment on such views was Secretary General Hanna Kosonen from our member organisation Forum Artis, who soberingly highlighted the plight of freelancers in the midst of coronavirus restrictions in an MTV3 interview. Kosonen emphasised how inappropriate it is to say ‘find a different job’ to anyone. Economic hardship is not the artists’ choice and does not make the industry inferior.
Cultural experiences do not play a secondary role in our lives, but are a vital part of the everyday lives of every one of us.
The level of appreciation of the industry manifests time and time again in our monthly interviews with authors and publishers in the creative industry. Our interviewees describe how they repeatedly have to defend the value of their own work. They have to tell people that exposure is not a sufficient compensation for creative work. And that it is a real job.
‘Artists and their works are sometimes defined as free riders whose financial distress is the result of their own choices.’ This was said by Eveliina Talvitie, the writer we last interviewed, who reminded everyone that copyright is an important tool in highlighting the value of art and culture.
Copyright remunerations are a concrete and integral part of the livelihood of many authors. At the same time, copyright gives creative work a moral value: the author has the right to be recognised as the author of their work and receive the remuneration they deserve. We at Kopiosto will repeat this message for as long and as many times as is needed for it to be understood.
The potential of the creative industry must not be squandered
It is strange that the value of culture and the creative industries must be justified while they have a significant role in the European economy. Before the coronavirus, the cultural industry employed more than twice as many people in the EU as the automotive industry and telecommunications combined. In Finland, the industry employs as many as 135,000 people and accounts for approximately 3.3 per cent of GDP.
At the same time, culture is a growth and export industry – between 2013 and 2019, it grew faster than the EU economy on average, with a trade surplus of EUR 8.6 billion.
In addition to the huge economic potential of the industry, we need art to build our well-being and bring enriching experiences into our lives. Art has been shown to affect our health, social well-being and learning, among other things.
Cultural content has helped many cope in the midst of the pandemic. Watching TV series from streaming services, attending touching live stream concerts and listening to audiobooks while jogging have brought consolation and glimpses of joy during the difficult period. Behind all these works, there are creative professionals and real work. Cultural experiences do not play a secondary role in our lives, but are a vital part of the everyday lives of every one of us.
We cannot afford to lose the economic potential of the cultural industry, its impact on well-being or the experiences it offers that bring value and meaning to our lives. That is why the industry now needs concrete solutions that create faith and confidence in the future. It is time to show creative professionals how much we value their work.
– Iina Saarinen, Communications Specialist
Bild: Suvi-Tuuli Kankaanpää