Two out of every three jobs in the cultural sector in Spain are salaried, according to data from the Ministry of Culture and Sports. A job, that of an artist, hit hard by covid-19, which has revealed, once again, the structural weaknesses of this industry. “The situation of many artists has gone from being precarious to unsustainable, endangering the diversity of creation,” UNESCO warns in a recent report. In this context, and with the labor reform underway, the world of entertainment launches a new artistic contract to offer protection and certainty to workers.
And it is that, among other issues, there was a rush to provide a solution to the professionals who live by bowling penalized by the labor reform. The rule that updates the special labor regime for artists, Royal Decree-Law 5/2022, of March 22, pardons contracts of less than 30 days, so frequent in the artistic world, from the payment of the additional regulated contribution. As explained by Manuel López, a lawyer who participated in the drafting of the decree and director of Sympathy for the Lawyer, “we had until March 31 to have a solution that would allow us to continue hiring and avoid a collapse of the cultural sector.”
The new typology does not restrict the use of temporary contracts; however, the employer who uses them must justify the seasonal need very well. And in any case, he will have to make the artist fixed if he links gigs for more than 18 months in two years. The other great novelty is that compensation for termination of contract is improved. The minimum compensation for the groups is now proportional to 12 days of salary per year worked compared to the previous 7, or 20 in the event that the project exceeds 18 months.
It is a long-awaited regulation, but it has been somewhat short due to the rush. This is what Patricia Gabeiras, founding partner of Gabeiras & Asociados and participant in some meetings of the statute believes: “There are technical and legal issues that can be improved”. It is, in any case, a provisional regulation pending a final rule, which, according to the lawyer, “should contemplate more clearly that the general rule in the cultural field is temporary hiring.” It is also time to incorporate a “gender perspective” in a sector where 48.1% of the work is done by women, according to UNESCO. For example, with a specific rule so that pregnant dancers or trapeze artists are “automatically at risk due to pregnancy.”
Although intermittence is the trend for many artists, there are many others who aspire to a permanent position that gives them the necessary stability. A dream that often collides with the shortage of places and labor irregularities. Some even report to the Labor Inspectorate. This is the judicialized case of the choir of the Teatro Real which, despite advertising itself under this name, is made up of singers from the Intermezzo winning company. In 2019, following a complaint, the Inspectorate fined both companies 50,000 euros for illegal transfer of workers. According to the minutes, Intermezzo, which has declined to make any statements, limits itself to giving in and paying the singers who are really under the orders of the Teatro Real. It is the public foundation that organizes their work, sets rehearsal times and directs them. If endorsed in court, says Ana Ercoreca, inspector and president of the Union of Labor and Social Security Inspectors (SITSS), the showgirls “will have the right to be made permanent at the Real, if they so decide.” And get the same working conditions as those on the staff, which, according to a singer who does not reveal her name for fear of blacklisting, are “very different”.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
Apart from these alleged abuses in subcontracting, there are other cases in which it is necessary to have several specialized companies to set up, for example, a festival organized by a town hall. As López explains, the new regulation allows them to make artistic labor contracts by being “more agile”.
The lawyer does not believe that there will be special conflict in the use of temporary contracts. The law defines it to cover one or several performances, a season, the time a work remains on the bill, or the duration of the different phases of production. However, he warns, it will be necessary to tread more carefully in the hiring of technicians (lighters, editors…) and assistants (tailoring, hairdressing, makeup…). And it is that, Gabeiras points out, in response to the demands of the sector, they now follow the same regime as artists “as long as they are not activities that are carried out structurally or permanently by the company, even if they are cyclical.”
For César Casares, general secretary of Conarte (Confederation of Working Artists of the Spectacle), the newly released decree is one more step in line with the report on the Statute of the Artist approved unanimously in Congress in 2018. However, he regrets, there is still a lot to walk. It is vital, he stresses, to guarantee decent retirement: “It is unacceptable that a first 60-year-old bailaor has 12 listed due to intermittence”. It is necessary to underpin, he adds, a professional transition system. According to him, he says, “85% of the dancers who follow these programs find work in the first year.” Casares also advocates a “single window” in the Inspection to protect the sector. In this regard, Ercoreca recalls the importance of reporting abuses and that the process is confidential.
More shows, more jobs
One way to generate employment in the cultural sector is to finance it through tax incentives for investment. The 2021 corporate tax reform introduced a new, easier framework for companies interested in live shows. According to Coté Soler, CEO of Ymás, it is a beneficial formula for both parties that allows companies to associate their brand and deduct up to 120% of the investment. Julián Galindo, managing partner of Carrillo Asesores, has observed a boom in these initiatives in the last year and assures that “the subsidy budget of the Ministry of Culture does not reach a fifth of the amount contributed by private capital”.
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