THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND THE CREATIVE ECONOMY
Cultural and creative economic ecosystems are significant in their own right regarding their economic footprint and employment. They encourage creativity around the economy and lead to various other socially beneficial networks like well-being and health, education, inclusion, urban regeneration, etc. They are among the worst affected by the pandemic, with major cities dependent on job opportunities hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Creative industries majorly are those based on personal creativity, talent, or skill that can create job opportunities through the production and development of intellectual property (Comunian & England, 2020).
Therefore, a creative economy can be said to be evolving as it builds on the interplay between people’s ideas and creativity and intellectual property, technology, and knowledge. For instance, advertising, fashion, arts and crafts, film, performing arts, video, electronic publishing, design, architecture, music, photography, publishing, software, research & development, television and radio, and computer games – are the lifeblood of the creative economy. The dynamics differ by sub-sector, with venue-based operations and their supply chains being the most impacted. Policies to help businesses and employees during a pandemic may not be well suited to the sector’s non-traditional business models and modes of employment. Aside from short-term financial assistance for artists and businesses from both the public and private sectors, policies can leverage the social and economic effects of culture in their wider recovery schemes and efforts to change the local creative economies.
The emergence of the covid-19 pandemic has evoked mixed reactions in the creative industry platform, with multiple outcomes observed from various sectors in the cultural and creative economy ecosystem. The creativity economy is among the most hit sectors by the pandemic, recording an unemployment risk ranging from 0.8 -5.5 percent across all sectors in the cultural and creative sector (Comunian & England, 2020). For instance, live performance and venue-based sectors, which comprise performing arts, live music, cinemas, museums, festivals, etc., are largely affected by the social distancing policies imposed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus among people. The policies and schemes put into controlling the pandemic have led to the drop in the customers in these venues, thus leading to a reduction of revenues.
The sudden drop of revenues has put the financial potential in a creative economy at risk hence resulting in reduced wage rates and layoffs with consequences for the value chain of their suppliers who are from either non-creative or creative sectors. On the other hand, other creative and cultural sectors have profited from the progressive rise in demand for cultural and creative content during the coronavirus duration. For instance, online content platforms have profited from the content streaming from online sites during lockdown phases that were imposed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. However, the benefits gained from the extra demand have significantly accrued to the big firms in the sector (Nobre, 2020).
These effects are bound to be long-lasting due to the combination of several factors due to the pandemic that is jeopardizing the creative industry. The impacts of the pandemic on the distribution chains and channels and the reduction in investment by the sector will affect the overall production of creative content and cultural services and their diversity in the coming months, if not years. Lower levels of international and domestic tourism, a drop in purchasing power, and cuts to public and private funding for arts and culture, especially at the local level, may exacerbate this negative trend in the medium term. The downsizing of the cultural and artistic industries would have a detrimental impact in the absence of responsive public funding and recovery strategies. The pandemic has also exposed the structural fragility in the creative economy, and more particularly on some producers in the industry. This has compromised with the sustainable development in the sector. The creative economy is comprised of micro-organizations and non-profit firms that are often operating on sustainable financial margins. Large private and public creative institutions and business entities depend on this dynamic creative and cultural ecosystem to provide creative goods and services (Comunian & England, 2020).
Radical digitalization, when combined with emerging technologies like virtual and augmented reality, will lead to new ways of cultural and creative experience, diffusion, and business models with market potential. Many public and private providers transferred their content online for free during the lockdown to keep viewers interested and meet the spike in demand for cultural content. Although providing free and digitally mediated cultural content is not long-term sustainable, it has paved the way for many potential developments. To take advantage of them, the sector must resolve digital skills gaps and expand digital access outside large metropolitan areas. The caveat that digital access does not replace a live cultural experience (Nobre, 2020).
Ideal policy interventions are likely to address and solve these issues facing the creative and cultural sectors. For instance, government intervention in standardizing the charged rates on streamed content will boost the sectors, as the revenues will be constant despite the pandemic. Creative jobs are precarious and exposed to lots of risk and inequality even in the larger economic platform. For instance, approximately a third of the actors and 21 percent of the musicians based in the US do not have active employment since the emergent of the coronavirus pandemic (Brouillette, 2020). The industry is also prevalent with part time jobs, and they are lack access to benefits and protections. Therefore, the imposition of government policies protects the primary stakeholders in the creative economic ecosystem, for instance, inexpensive health insurance and unemployment insurance. Proper reform in cybersecurity regulation will enhance the thriving of the creative economy during this pandemic time. This can be done by tightening the regulation of accessing creative content in online platforms to counter piracy and other cybersecurity-related crimes, hence protecting the major stakeholders and the entire creative and cultural sectors.
Despite the emergent of the coronavirus pandemic, the creative sector has remained vital to the people during the lockdown duration. It kept people connected and aware of the global happenings, alongside getting entertainment while the situation was compromising. The creative and cultural economy plays a vital role as it encourages creativity around the economy and leads to a variety of other socially beneficial networks like well-being and health, education, inclusion, urban regeneration, even during times of pandemics. Hence, implementing regulatory policies to safeguard the industry and the key stakeholders taking part in the creative and cultural economic ecosystem.
Brouillette, S. (2020). Literature and the creative economy. Stanford University Press.
Comunian, R., & England, L. (2020). Creative and cultural work without filters: Covid-19 and exposed precarity in the creative economy. Cultural Trends, 29(2), 112-128.
Nobre, G. F. (2020). Creative Economy and Covid-19: technology, automation, and the new economy.
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