The promenade in front of the Assembly of the Republic was occupied by ten people who, wearing a mask and keeping their distance, held black posters where they read, in white, as in other places in the country where the vigil is repeated: “And if we had without Culture? ”.
This was the form of protest, silent, chosen by a group of professionals in the field to “make visible a struggle that is transversal to various formal and informal movements, union structures” in the Arts and Culture sectors.
“We thought we should get out of (social) networks a bit, go out, show our face, show that we exist, that we are here. It is a moment to give visibility to this struggle, which in some points has been going on for many years, but this pandemic situation that is now being experienced has made the many weaknesses of this sector more evident ”, said Joana Saraiva, of the organization, in statements to Lusa in the place.
Between 9:00 am and 8:00 pm today, at least 300 professionals in the sector held on the vigil posters in Lisbon, since this was the number of subscribers, whose names are organized in groups, which are paid every half half an hour.
The posters are duly infected, by elements of the organization, between passing on to other hands.
Among these 300 professionals, according to Joana Saraiva, “technicians, actors, directors, producers, audio-writers, dancers, choreographers”. “We managed to make it transversal and to be a good sample of the various professions within this sector, and in each shift there will always be people from very different professions,” he said.
The protesters demanded “emergency support, for now, that is not subject to a contest logic, in which people have to prove that they are worthy of support”, said Joana Saraiva, in reference to the Emergency Support Line to Artes, from the Government, which received 1,025 applications, of which 636 were considered eligible and, of these, only 311 received support.
If on the one hand “it is necessary to deal with issues of an emergency nature”, then, “once and for all”, the protesters consider it necessary “to have a negotiation in terms of what is the sector's budgeting” and “to talk about ( the creation of) a possible intermittent status ”.
“As a result of our professions, they are intermittent and will always be. It is important not to leave these workers unprotected between projects or in stages where, for reasons that are not their responsibility, they can work less or nothing. We demand an answer for people who, like me, had zero income ”, said Joana Saraiva.
Joana Saraiva is an audio-writer, in several theaters, national and municipal, an actress and gives classes in dramatic expression and theater.
“Since the beginning of March, I have been unable to work, because both schools and theaters have closed, and I have not received any support – something that has happened to many people – from Social Security”, she told Lusa, stressing that, like her, “many, whether structures or individuals, they did not get any support ”.
Pedro Oliveira, “actor for almost 30 years”, is not one of those cases, he was “lucky to have received support from (Fundação Calouste) Gulbenkian and also from Fundação GDA”, in addition to being able to count on the support of his family.
In March, the agenda was “full of shows and everything was canceled”. Married, to a person who “also lost his job” and with whom he has a 4-year-old daughter, reinforces the “luck” of the family being able to help him.
The “manifestly insufficient and absolutely pathetic” support that the Ministry of Culture has given to the sector was what led him to participate in the vigil: “We are here not only because of the present situation, but also for the future. We need a strategy for Culture in Portugal, we are one of the country's assets and we have everything to be able to help the Economy ”.
Also Mónica Pedroto, actress and producer, considers herself “lucky”, because she is in “lay-off” thanks to the “part-time” contract that she has in one of the several projects in which she is involved.
“We want there to be recognition of our work, there is legislation, there are working conditions, we start making contracts so that situations like this don't happen”, he defended.
With the work “stopped indefinitely”, Pedro Oliveira and Mónica Pedroto were among the professionals who signed up to participate in the vigil shifts, but there are those who appear in front of the Assembly of the Republic like Carlos Monteiro.
This circus artist felt that he “could not do less” than going to the vigil to represent his art “and show solidarity with colleagues from all the arts represented here”.
“We are in the same boat, it has been difficult and we look forward to returning to our work,” he told Lusa.
In addition to Lisbon, similar vigils took place today in several cities in the country, including Porto, Caldas da Rainha, Santa Maria da Feira, Leiria and Évora.
Cultural spaces began to close, and consequently to postpone or cancel shows, in early March, when the option was still only a recommendation from the Government. Gradually, the shooting of films, series and other television programs stopped and the galleries closed, leaving thousands of people without work, many of whom work ‘on green receipts’.
According to a survey promoted by the Union of Spectacle, Audiovisual and Musician Workers (Cena-STE), the results of which were announced in early April, 98% of show workers saw jobs canceled and 33% for more than 30 days.
In financial terms, for the 1,300 people who answered the questionnaire, losses due to canceled jobs still represent two million euros, only for the period from March to May this year, according to Cena-STE (which indicates the loss of an average revenue per employee of around 1,500 euros).
In response to the cancellation and suspension of cultural activity in the country since March, to contain the covid-19 pandemic, the Government created an emergency support line, with an initial allocation of one million euros, reinforced in the meantime with 700 thousand euros, and that it will support 311 projects, out of 1,025 requests received.
Support was also announced for 400 thousand euros in the area of books and streamlining procedures for accessing competitions to support cinema.
* with Lusa
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