Country reports


Expert authors: Anna Villarroya and Victoria Ateca-Amestoy
Last update: February 17th 2021

February 17th 2021

The first estimates of cultural employment in 2020: the COVID-19 crisis.

(Link to the Spanish version: and

An alternative view, to better grasp the effect of the COVID-19 crisis over the cultural sector, notably in terms of employment, is the analysis of the last 4 quarters available of employment data derived from the Economically Active Population Survey (covering the last quarter of 2019 and the three first quarters of 2020).

During those four quarters, average cultural employment was estimated in 683.5 thousand people, accounting for 3.5 of the total employment in Spain during that period. Male employment represents 58.7%, while the male proportion for total employment is 54.3%. 71.1% of people with a cultural employment have a high education degree and 67.7% of the workers are paid-workers – meaning not self-employed (45.1% and 84%, respectively, for total employment). Full-time arrangements cover 88.6% of cultural employment and part-time 11.4%.

This can be further complemented by the last data available, those derived from the third quarter of 2020 (July-September). Cultural employment was estimated to be 647.4 thousand people, representing a decrease of 8.1% with respect to that quarter in 2019. The variation of average cultural employment during 2020 (3 first quarters) has decreased with respect to the previous year by 5%. Male cultural employment is estimated to be 9.6% lower than in the third quarter of 2019 and female cultural employment is estimated to be 5.6% lower. Paid workers amounted to 429 thousand workers, representing an inter-annual decrease of 11.6%, and self-employment decreased only by 0.3%.

Overall, comparing current cultural employment with the estimations of 2019, the biggest decreases in employment have affected paid workers, workers with a temporal contract and those working part-time.

Overview of the action of the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sport during 2020 and prospective actions for 2021

The Ministry highlights the increase of budgetary funds foreseen in the State General Budgets for the Year 2021 (37% more). During 2020, there were two Decrees with extraordinary actions to support the cultural sector after the COVID-19 Crisis. The Ministry acknowledges the commitments to develop the Special Statute of the Arts (see the 2019 Spanish Profile highlights for more information about the agreement in the Spanish Parliament during 2018), the consolidation of an audiovisual HUB and the creation of the National Centre of the Dissemination of Dance.


August 17th 2020

The Ministry of Culture and Sport and the Office of State Museums published a planning document with the basic measures to be considered in the reopening of museums managed by the Office of State Museums: ‘Planning measures for the reopening of state-owned and state-managed museums reporting to the Directorate-General for Fine Arts’

For cultural heritage, the Ministry of Culture and Sport and the Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute (IPCE) published ‘Guidelines for the management, conservation and public enjoyment of cultural heritage during the deescalation of the COVID-19 health crisis’ and ‘Recommendations on disinfection procedures for cultural property due to the COVID-19 crisis’.

April 22nd

After the controversy generated by the non-inclusion of support measures for the sector during the first week of April, on April 18th, the Ministers of Culture and of Finance undertook the commitment to design a first package of urgent measures to support the cultural sector. To this aim, a working group will be created by both ministries to design this package of measures that will be based on the most urgent priorities reported by the sector.

This group will work on a two-speed strategy: one with proposals for urgent and immediate application that offers a protection network to the sector and the other, in the medium term, with reforms that will allow the sector to reactivate once the health crisis within the framework of the Alarm Status is overcome.

During this announcement, the Minister of Culture and Sport manifested his willingness to achieve a State Pact for Culture.

April 1st

Spain continues to be under a state of alarm, which is extended for 15 additional days and reinforced with more strict limitations of any economic activity that is not classified as essential.

On March 31st, the Council of Ministers approved some additional measures for economic and social protection and to further enable the application of previous measures related to the cultural sector. Two main characteristics are taken into account: seasonality and discontinuity of the cultural activity and the income revenue of cultural workers. According to these two characteristics, the measures related to Temporary Regulation of Employment Plans (ERTE) that apply to firms that temporarily reduce the intensity of the work hours due to a “major force”, and to special subsidies for autonomous/self-employed workers in order to compensate them for the sudden stop of activity are expected to better meet the urgent needs of the cultural sector. Given the discontinuous nature of the contracts for cultural self-employed workers, the period for which they will be compensated can be extended.

Further, there will be some measures to postpone: the payment of mortgages for economic activity; the Social Security contributions; the payment of electricity and other basic supplies. A special unemployment subsidy for temporary workers will be made available too.

March 25th

The aim of the Spanish Government is that SMEs in the CCIs and sports sectors, as well as individual professionals would be eligible for the government approved guarantees.

Highlights from the press release of the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sporton March 25th:

– The Ministers Council has agreed upon the characteristics of the first release of the approved guarantee programme for firms and individual professionals, for an amount of up to EUR 20.000 million;
– With that guarantee programme, the government wants to facilitate economic liquidity to the firms of the cultural and sport sector in Spain;
This programme is to cover the financial needs associated to, among others, wages, invoices, liquidity requirements, including those derived from financial and tax duties.
The Ministry of Culture and Sports is constantly connected with the sector. 

The measures to protect the sector are embedded in the general regulation and action aimed at mitigating the economic and social impact of COVID-19. The Council of Ministers have approved the first release of the approved guarantees programme, by up to EUR 20.000 million as the Royal Decree Law 8/2020 with urgent extraordinary measures. The whole guarantee programme amounts to EUR 100.000 million. From the 20.000 million assigned to the first release, 50% will be used to back SMEs and professional individuals. This is to be managed by the Institute of Official Credit / Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO).

The fact that 50% of the funding will be granted to SMEs and professionals is particularly relevant for the cultural sector, as only 0.7% of the firms operating in the sector have more than 50 workers. The cultural sector is mostly composed of individual creators and professionals, microfirms and small enterprises.

The Ministry of Culture and Sports also claims to be working with departments from other ministries, as well as with organisations and the main associations of the sector. The coordination with other ministries is aimed at guaranteeing that the transversal programmes and future measures in labour, economic and tax regulation will be suitable for the cultural and sport sectors.

The conversations with the sector are aimed at adapting the existing subsidies and funding from the Ministry to the new circumstances. For instance, the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music (INAEM), the public body to which national theatres and music auditoria are assigned, is considering the re-programming of all the interrupted activities. The PLATEAprogramme to promote the mobility of performances around Spain is being reformulated in order to guarantee the sustainability of theatre, music, dance and circus companies. The same urgent actions are to be considered in order to accelerate the nominative (meaning non competitive) subsidies to some of the most relevant national cultural institutions (more information on these programmes and institutions can be found in the Spanish cultural policy profile here).

Looking ahead with optimism, the Ministry has also announced that they are designing a new campaign to support that citizens are culturally active again once this dreadful situation is over. Cultural participation is considered an essential activity to preserve fundamental values of a democratic, critic and solidary society.

The Ministry of Culture and Sports is developing the programme #CultureInYourHome / #LaCulturaEnTuCasa. Spain is under State of Alarm, the first of the three exceptional states that are considered in the Spanish Constitution, an atypical situation to guarantee public protection while at the same time severely limiting individual rights. During the State of Alarm, the Ministry of Culture and Sports (together with the National Library, the Spanish Filmotheque and the museums and archives under the Ministry’s rule) is making a big effort to make cultural goods digitally available, thereby granting access to culture online.

On the one hand, the museums are reinforcing their websites and their presence on social networks, making cultural assets and past programmes (previous exhibitions and catalogues) available and preparing new virtual exhibitions for the forthcoming months. The National Archives are also preparing virtual exhibitions and contents. The National Library and the Spanish Filmotheque are reinforcing their online collection.

A selection of regional responses

Andalusia / Andalucía
Culture allocates EUR 500,000 to the acquisition of works to support Andalusian artists and galleries

Balearic Islands / Illes Balears / Islas Baleares
The Institut d’Estudis Baleàrics announces urgent and retroactive aids for the cultural sector of the Balearic Islands

Catalonia / Catalunya / Cataluña
Department of Culture of the Catalan Government (only CAT available):
Plan to rescue the cultural sector from the crisis of COVID-19
Accompanying measures in the cultural sector
Rescue measures from the cultural sector
Planning for the recovery in cultural activity
Financial planning of the rescue plan

CoNCA National Council for Culture and Arts (only CAT available):
150 voices for the culture of the next day
Cultural Emergency Channel

Barcelona City Council
Barcelona launches 10 extraordinary measures to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 virus on the city’s cultural activity and fabric
Measures in the area of culture following the activation of the alert stage of the Specific Municipal Health-Risk Prevention Plan in Barcelona

Promotion of digital access

A diagnosis of the catastrophic effects for the sector
A recognition of the previous digitisation efforts of cultural institutions
Complaints from contemporary visual artists
Debates about the pertinence of letting cultural contents into the public domain free of charge

The cultural resources of Navarra, accessible from the Internet

Valencian Community / Comunitat Valenciana / Comunidad Valenciana
Launch of ‘reaCtivem’, a package of measures for the Valencian cultural sector

Private initiatives