The Romanian independent performing arts sector is in danger of extinction!
Dozens of independent cultural spaces and thousands of independent artists and cultural workers from all over the country are in risk of being left without income and become unable to continue their activity and support themselves. The lack of involvement of the authorities in supporting independent cultural spaces in the next year would demonstrate a serious misunderstanding of the essential role that these play in the cultural present and future of Romania.
The future is uncertain, but without culture, the future does not exist!
Blocking the activity with the public for the last six months, the necessary sanitary regulations, which will halve the seats in the auditoriums, in autumn, as well as the lack of concrete support measures from the authorities, make independent theaters across the country unable to continue. The independent spaces for performing arts self-finance their activity and expenses (production of shows, payment of rent for space and subscriptions to utilities, payment of salaries, etc.) mainly by selling tickets to shows. They do not benefit from state budgets, but have been, for 30 years, the place of artistic innovation that aligns Romania with European culture and, at the same time, contribute to the state budget (by paying all taxes related to carrying out a cultural activity) and occupying a significant part of the young workforce in the sector.
In March, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the whole world to close its doors, the independent cultural sector was already precarious and weakened, despite the consistent contribution to the economic and social evolution of Romania. The pandemic has exacerbated problematic working conditions, persistent insecurity, and accentuated the inequities facing the independent art scene. The cultural projects initiated by the private sector – represented by associations, foundations, PFAs and private companies SRL – were and are relevant on several socio-cultural levels: they provided access to representation and cultural education in disadvantaged areas, they created frameworks for social intervention with a decisive role in the development of communities, structured various cultural activities for new audiences, conducted research and developed cultural policies, innovated the cultural sector through projects and programs that compensate the offer of public institutions, represented the contemporary culture of Romania at international level, through multi-annual European projects and by participating in festivals and platforms (Creative Europe, Europalia Festival, Romania-France Season 2019, among others).
Representatives of independent spaces for performing arts from all over the country call on the authorities – the Romanian Government, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Public Finance, the Ministry of European Funds, City Halls and Prefectures – asking for concrete financial support for next year, which will prove for the cultural landscape.
We know and support the need for health rules to prevent the spreading of COVID-19, we respect and actively promote their compliance, health rules, we understand and support the need for these, but, provided that, to avoid the spread of SARS-CoV-2, we will resume representations occupying only half of the capacity of the performance halls, the income obtained from ticket sales will be halved and we will find ourselves unable to pay the expenses necessary to continue the activity.
Unlike state theaters and cultural institutions that benefit from budgets for productions, spaces, utilities, salaries, etc. and for which the resumption of representations inside, with physical distance, would not have consequences on the continuation of the activity, for the independent cultural spaces the consequences would be devastating.
We draw attention to the fact that without the involvement of the authorities in the financial support of independent venues throughout the restrictions and the drastic reduction of the number of spectators in the performance halls, our sector will disappear and the cultural gap left behind will never be recovered. That is why we are asking the authorities for financial support. Our approach will be formalized through a series of concrete proposals sent. We hope that our call will be heard and answered; the lack of an answer would be a proof of indifference, a mistake that would only condemn to extinction an essential cultural sector that, so far, has brought only benefits to the state and society.
Apollo111 Theatre (Bucharest)
Asociația Teatrală Shoshin (Cluj-Napoca)
Art Theatre Association (Bucharest)
Green Hours & LUNI Theatre (Bucharest)
Grivita 53 (Bucharest)
Linotip – Independent Choreographic Center (Bucharest)
Reactor de creație și experiment (Cluj-Napoca)
Act Theatre (Bucharest)
Apropo Theatre (Bucharest)
Arte dell’Anima Theatre (Bucharest)
Godot Theatre (Bucharest)
în Culise Theatre (Bucharest)
Recul Theatre (Bucharest)
WASP – Working Art Space and Production (WASP Studios & 4Culture Association – Bucharest)
ZIZ Art and Social Area (Cluj-Napoca)