One in three writers and translators had their work pay postponed due to the pandemic Culture

A young woman at a book stall in the San Andreu neighborhood of Barcelona.
A young woman at a book stall in the San Andreu neighborhood of Barcelona.Juan Barbosa

This is a first attempt to measure the effects that the pandemic has had on the union’s activity. Survey Covid 19 and the situation of writers and translators, promoted by the Asociación Colegial de Escritores de España (ACE) in collaboration with CEDRO, was carried out online throughout the last quarter of 2020 for a sample of 342 writers, 150 translators and 55 theater authors. The objective was to analyze their relationship with publishers, the impact that the pandemic may have had on their projects, access to government and private aid, as well as collect the forecasts of the sector. Half of those questioned suffered the suspension of their contracts. Especially dramatic authors: seven out of 10 saw their staging canceled.

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More than half of those surveyed suffered the cancellation of some activity related to their work. It was the writers who had to suspend the greatest number of activities (presentations, readings or signatures). Activities normally related to the promotion and visibility of his work and whose loss entails economic damage. 40% of the writers declared that their invitations to a book fair were canceled. In the area of ​​direct remuneration, the health crisis also caused a drain: the payment of books or their copyrights was postponed for a third of those surveyed. As a general rule, the delays in this matter have been long, exceeding two months and without the worker being notified of a new date for collection.

The study indicates that a longer stay at home, due to teleworking or quarantines in the face of suspected contagion, has changed the landscape of homes during working hours. “For cultural creators, in need of silence and concentration, this can be a problem,” he says. 80% of those surveyed with dependents or minors in their care say they have dedicated more hours to their care, which generated a reduction in income for one in four. Aid for the self-employed by the administrations has had little implantation in the union, especially in the case of writers: only 7% received subsidies. Aid for termination of activity due to a 75% reduction in income was the one that was granted the most.

The sector seems pessimistic about its future. Four out of ten writers think that the income they receive will decrease to a greater or lesser extent as a result of the crisis derived from the coronavirus. Translators are the group most concerned about the prospect of continuing to receive editorial commissions. “Paradoxically, 2020 has been a year in which administrations have responded with unprecedented initiatives, although marked by insufficiency,” says Manuel Rico, president of ACE. “All this has had its culmination (for the moment) in the decision of the Ministry of Culture and Sports to create the Book and Reading Table, in which ACE participates, along with the rest of the professional organizations in the book sector, and the endowment, for 2021, of an additional fund from the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Funds that the European Union will contribute to the Government of Spain to face the large holes caused by covid-19 ″.

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