Italians working in cultural sector decry pandemic closures

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Milan, Italy – Artwork and cultural employees protested throughout Italy on Tuesday, marking a 12 months since theatres, music venues, cinemas and cultural areas shut their doorways as a result of coronavirus pandemic – closures which rendered jobless the 300,000 individuals working within the sector.

A protest in entrance of the native seat of the central authorities in Milan started with a efficiency through which actors, singers and different stage professionals ready behind the scenes for a present that by no means takes place.

“This was a five-minute present that took 9 hours to rehearse. We needed to indicate what goes into preparations for a manufacturing,” Beatrice Parapini, a singer, actress and instructor who took half within the small act, informed Al Jazeera.

With cross-regional journey banned for the reason that begin of the second wave, a nationwide demonstration occurred in 20 regional capitals.

Staff’ unions organised parallel demonstrations in some cities together with Rome and Catania.

On Monday night time, theatres throughout Italy switched their lights on to “shine a highlight on theatre”.

Mirko Lanfredini, the creative director of a small theatre in Milan, says whereas he was eligible for grants, the theatre college he based has been left reeling [Ylenia Gostoli/Al Jazeera]

“We’re calling for the reopening of venues with security measures, and for extra consideration to be given to our class, with critical reforms bearing in mind the atypical nature of labor within the cultural sector,” mentioned Parapini, who helped organise the protest.

Like others, she has not been eligible for presidency help within the final 12 months.

“I had a critical well being downside [in 2019], and I fell under the edge of working days wanted to qualify for the grants,” Parapini explains, including that when the pandemic hit, the tasks she had lately resumed needed to be placed on maintain.

Artwork and tradition employees may apply for a 600-euro ($730) grant early within the disaster and 4 extra 1,000-euro grants introduced because the disaster continued.

“However we additionally have to reopen cultural actions with all due security measures,” Maurizio Landini, the final secretary of CGIL, certainly one of Italy’s largest commerce unions, informed journalists in Rome.

“There may be additionally a necessity for funding and the prospect of the European [Next Generation EU] plan is a chance for investing in tradition and performing arts.”

Throughout Europe and past, cultural venues have been largely shut because the coronavirus surges, however there have been quick intervals of reopening, akin to in the summertime.

In Madrid, the federal government reopened theatres and cinemas on the finish of 2020, regardless of the nation remaining in a state of emergency till a minimum of Might 9.

The UK, which has one of many world’s highest dying tolls however is profitable reward for its vaccine roll-out, lately introduced gradual measures to ease its lockdown. It goals to completely reopen cultural venues by late June.

Exposing structural vulnerabilities

In his first speech, Mario Draghi, Italy’s new prime minister, mentioned: “Tradition should be supported. The chance is to lose a heritage that defines our identification. The financial loss is gigantic, however the lack of the spirit can be even larger.”

The sector ought to be supported by means of funding and the strengthening of protections for employees, he mentioned.

However a 12 months right into a disaster that has left many individuals struggling, protesters are searching for greater than phrases.

A glance outdoors the window of the Montecitorio palace, the seat of the Italian parliament, will remind Draghi, the previous ECB president, of the challenges he faces in steering Italy out of the persevering with well being and financial disaster.

About 300,000 individuals work in Italy’s artwork and tradition sectors [Ylenia Gostoli/Al Jazeera]

On Monday, restaurant house owners protested, calling on the federal government to reinstate night opening instances.

The #iopen motion, launched in January, is vocally supported by the far-right League celebration chief Matteo Salvini.

Till March 31, workers are protected by a ban on layoffs.

However small enterprise house owners, the self-employed and seasonal employees haven’t been supplied such safety throughout the disaster.

Mirko Lanfredini, 42, an actor and creative director of a small theatre in Milan, says whereas he was eligible for grants, the theatre college he based was left reeling.

“Since February 23 final 12 months, my college labored for only a month in June,” Lanfredini mentioned. “Lease is 2,000 euros a month. All our financial savings are gone.”

“The theatre the place I work has 240 seats, and we managed to rearrange for it to have 120 distanced seats. However the day we had been meant to reopen, the curfew was introduced [in October].”

David Ghollasi, a 32-year-old electrician on the Secure Theatre in Rome and protest organiser, known as for a “continuity revenue” for employees on short-term or project-based contracts.

The pandemic has uncovered deep-seated issues within the cultural house, together with precariousness, widespread casual work and exploitation, mentioned Ghollasi, who added there was one silver lining.

“The pandemic has positively contributed to breaking down limitations amongst employees, and a 12 months out of labor has given us the time to pause and construct actions,” he mentioned.

Francesca Bettio, a professor of political economic system on the College of Siena, informed Al Jazeera: “We have to rethink the methods we help employees once they’re not in work, our social security nets.

“For employees within the artwork sector, the half excellent news is that they are going to now not be handled as separate and marginal. Their downside is changing into extra widespread, and the options should embrace them too. The disaster has put us head to head with a paradigm shift we are able to now not ignore.”