One in every three artists in Malta have reportedly given up their craft during the pandemic, leading to a significant “creative brain drain” on the islands.
This was found in a survey by Culture Venture, a creative enterprise, carried out to gauge the effects of COVID-19 on the livelihoods of artists a year since the crisis began. It found that a significant portion of artists, 38% of 110 respondents, abandoned their artistic activity altogether, while others (34%) branched out to other activities to support themselves.
“No weddings, no international conference groups, no language student groups, entertainment venues closed, all the investment I made in equipment for rentals is at a standstill. The situation is a disaster for people like me that work in the entertainment industry as a professional,” one participant, an events organiser, said.
The industry was one of the worst-hit by pandemic lockdowns, leading to significant financial losses for Malta’s artistic players. In fact, since COVID-19 hit the islands in March 2020, there has been a sharp increase in unemployment in the arts.
A staggering 14.5% of respondents said they were forced to engage in other sectors, up from 2.7% when the public health crisis began. Meanwhile, the majority of those who exclusively depend on the arts for pay said they lost a huge chunk of income.
“I lost my job and had to take a more menial one just to have an income but this was extremely stressful especially given that I have a family to raise,” an events planner said.
Income, prospects of future work and personal well-being were top concerns for the artistic community, who feel that little has changed since March 2020, despite a roll-out of state aid and other measures.
“The main issue I had was mental health, I have never struggled with this before COVID-19 and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again,” a games artist explained in the survey.
There doesn’t seem to be much hope for the future either, with artists doubtful that they will return to the level of activity pre-pandemic. A clear post-COVID plan therefore vital to instil a sense of hope in the industry to bounce back, according to Culture Vulture.
With the vaccination programme well underway, Malta plans to reopen non-essential businesses on 26th April. However, no date has been given for venues, meaning many artists who rely on gigs and physical events are still in the dark as to when they can return to business.
Read the full survey results here.
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