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Government help may not keep the economy afloat, according to the creative industry

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Being one of the world's largest creative communities, Creativepool is in a unique position to understand how the creative industry is struggling in self-isolation for the Coronavirus lockdown.

We had the power to make a difference by asking about the impact of the lockdown on businesses, employees and freelancers across our community. We created two surveys and launched them last week – one for full-time employees and freelancers, one for agencies, marketers and business leaders. Both included a section for unemployed creatives.

This is one of a series of articles which will look at the impact of COVID-19 on the creative industries. This article aims to understand the general sentiment around financial aids from governments around the world and whether the industry is looking to use them or not. It will also include a brief look into the job market, which will be examined more in depth in another piece of this report.

Government Help

Only 23.7% of the creative industries believe government help will keep the economy afloat. This climate of uncertainty is worsened as more people start working from home and fear for their jobs, as it emerged from our COVID-19 survey.

Financial help from governments around the world has been more or less effective depending on the different cases, but creatives in our community are unsure whether they are enough to cover everyone's needs. Nonetheless, the industry will still choose to take advantage of government help if the need arises... But too many creatives are left being worried for their jobs while they wait.

Over three-quarters of the industry (76.2%) are uncertain whether their government’s financial measures will actually help the economy [Graph 1], as the financial markets experience a worst crash than Wall Street and the Great Depression.

76.2% of the industry is uncertain whether financial aid from the government is going to help

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Graph 1

However, with most work drying up for the creative industries, almost exactly half of the surveyed organisations will take advantage of government help to retain their staff [Graph 2]. This probably sounds reassuring to those worried about their jobs, amongst increasing tensions due to the lockdown and everything it entailed in the past few weeks.

Half of the creative industry will take advantage of government help

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Graph 2

But there are even more specific realities that government help, especially in the United Kingdom, did not seem to consider. Here are some comments from our respondents in that regard:

“I’m sole director and employee of a limited company. I work when there is work. There is none so I can’t work at the moment. The U.K. Government does not support people in my position so I’m not eligible for support. I will live off savings in the hope that clients will reactivate some projects after lockdown finishes.“

Director, Interior Design Consultancy, United Kingdom

"Made redundant last year, forced to go freelance, work completely dried up, no government support because I don't have three years of freelance accounts. My landlord is ignoring my messages telling him I have no income, so probably going to lose my home as well as my livelihood."

Freelance Copywriter, United Kingdom
 

Job market

Last week, however, most of the creative industries had not been furloughed. Only 11.6% of the respondents had furloughed some or most of their staff last week [Graph 3], several days after most governments had released their plans to release financial aid for employers in need. It is likely that the situation has changed since then. Even 24 hours can bring massive changes in these trying times.

Only 11.6% of surveyed businesses had furloughed some or most of their staff last week

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Graph 3

When it comes to the duration of the furloughed period, the industry looks evenly balanced, with around 30-35% being furloughed for either a few weeks, 1–3 months or until further notice [Graph 4].

In terms of furlough policies, the industry looks evenly balanced

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Graph 4

Sadly, of those who have not been furloughed, some have been let go due to the Coronavirus outbreak [Graph 5]. Almost 50% of the surveyed unemployed creatives have lost their job due to Coronavirus, either because their job offer was still pending, or because the company was in dire financial straits due to the pandemic.

Almost 50% of the surveyed unemployed creatives have lost their job due to Coronavirus

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Graph 5

In this chaotic scenario, too many start fearing for their jobs. Though freelancers come out as the most worriedroughly 70% of creatives are moderately-to-very-worried for their job. They fear work will just dry up in some cases (Freelancers), but also fear their organisations will not be able to survive long enough to keep them in the team.

70% of creative professionals are moderately-to-very-worried for their job

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Graph 6

Here are some comments from a shattered job market:

"I very recently transferred to our New York office only to be stuck working from my one bedroom apartment in Manhattan for the foreseeable future . It's certainly challenging to have to build relationships with new colleagues virtually, to stay proactive throughout the day and not let homesickness get the better of me but it's incredible to see how quickly we've all been able to adapt to our new reality. From new brainstorming formats for pitches to weekly team happy hours (pets and children included), I've seen not only at my own agency network, but across the industry, people responding positively to help support each other through something that will no doubt reshape how we work going forward!"

Growth Director, Digital Marketing Agency, United States

"The best thing that could happen to me is a salary reduction for a few months. Worst case, I have to leave Spain, and I love my life in Barcelona. I've worked in Hamburg, London and Beijing before and Barcelona beats them all."

Creative Director, Marketing & Advertising Agency, Spain
 

Creativepool's Coronavirus Survey Report

Here are some useful links to published articles:

Header image: Fernando Martins
 

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