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COVID-19 Knocks 30 Percent Off Europe’s Film, TV, Music Revenue

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 1/26/2021 Jackie Strause

Representatives of Europe’s creative industries — from film and TV to theater, music, and video games — are calling for more government help to rebound from the economic damage wrought by COVID-19.

A study published Tuesday by European Authors Society GESAC showed overall revenue in Europe’s creative sector dropped 31 percent in 2020 from a high of $783 billion (€643 billion) in 2019, pre-pandemic, to $540 billion (€444 billion) last year.

COVID-19 safety measures, which have included lockdowns across most of Europe, hit the performing arts the hardest, resulting in a 90 percent drop in revenue, according to the study. The overall drop, close to €200 billion ($243 million), is above all but the worst estimates of the damage forecast at the beginning of the pandemic in Europe early last year.

Music revenue in Europe also slumped some 76 percent, and box office sales at European cinemas fell an estimated 75 percent. The only creative sector to see an uptick was the video games industry, which recorded a 9 percent bump in sales.

GESAC partnered with several pan-European groups, including the Eurocinema association of European producers, Independent Music Companies Association Impala, and the Society of Audiovisual Authors on the report, which aims to highlight the importance of the creative industries to Europe’s economy, and argue for more government intervention to return the sector to health.

The group estimates Europe’s creative industries accounted for 4.4 percent of the European Union’s entire Gross Domestic Product in 2019, a larger share than that of Europe’s pharmaceutical, automobile or telecommunications industries.

GESAC is calling for “massive public financing” and stronger support for private investment in cultural and creative businesses, to return the industry to growth post-COVID. They are also demanding a “solid legal framework” to allow creatives to adequately protect and leverage their original content online.

The study found that royalties from collection agencies fell 35 percent in 2020 and that, in most sectors, increased digital revenue did not compensate for the loss from reduced physical sales. Europe’s music industry, for example, expects sales of CDs and vinyl records to be down 35 percent in 2020, offset by only an 8 percent increase in digital revenue.

European governments have announced several programs to support cultural industries hard hit by the pandemic, from tax relief to direct subsidies, and many countries are trying to find state solutions to problems like the lack of commercial COVID-19 insurance for film and TV production. But given the scale of the problem and the number of people affected — GESAC estimates cultural industries employ 7.6 million people across the continent — Europe’s creatives think national governments need to be doing more.

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