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Eurocrisis: No Jobs? Make Art and Go to the Theater!

Eurocrisis: No Jobs? Make Art and Go to the Theater!

Nearly 1 out of 4 people in Spain are out of work. That’s almost 5.7 million people, according to figures released on Friday morning revealing that the unemployment rate in Spain is now 24.6 percent, breaking the previous record during a recession Spain went through 18 years ago.

It is even worse if you’re under 25 in Spain: The youth unemployment rate is 53 percent.

In Greece, things are barely better: Unemployment is 22 percent, youth unemployment is 52 percent and 0.6 percent of the country’s 5 million-person workforce migrated to Germany in 2011. That’s 25,000 Greeks. A survey in the widely-read Ta Nea daily found that about half of young Greeks graduating from technical schools want to emigrate. About 40 percent of young graduates in Spain, Portugal and Italy are “thinking” of leaving their countries.

The International Monetary Fund is warning that Spain faces a lost decade of growth, with its double-dip recession continuing for another 18 months. Spain has not yet sought a bailout as have Greece, Ireland and Portugal but, on Tuesday night, Spain’s economy minister Luis de Guindos reportedly raised the subject in speaking to German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble. But Germany is not yet in favor of what would be a 300 billion euro bailout.

In Times of Trouble, Seek the Arts

Despite, or perhaps because, of all this, theater attendance is up in Spain and also in Italy and France. Publicly-funded arts groups have faced massive budget cuts, but, in the ten years up to 2011, theater attendance has grown by 17 percent and the number of moviegoers has risen by about half that. In Barcelona, 2.8 million people attended theatrical productions and not only blockbuster touring shows like “The Lion King” but “serious theater” too. Art and music festivals have also been managing in the economic crisis.

Admittedly, almost all theaters have cut their ticket prices. But people could certainly spend the fewer funds they have on something besides an evening of entertainment. In Rome, performers have occupied the Teatro Valle (which opened in 1727) for a year:

At first, it was a protest at the disbanding of a state-funded body that managed the Valle and two other theatres. But it soon became a broader movement in support of welfare guarantees for performers and more government backing for culture in general. What the protesters had not bargained for was the degree of support they received. “We couldn’t get out”, said Sylvia De Fanti, an actor and writer.

Large numbers of people, including several prominent figures in Italian life, signed their manifesto. Local restaurants provided them with food for their events. Shops gave discounts. And, when the participants staged plays in the Valle, they found they could pack it to capacity.

“Now, you could say that is because entry is free. But it’s not just that. We make a suggestion that people pay whatever they think is fair. There is a hunger, not just for quality, but to learn what quality is,” De Fanti said.

In Greece, the art scene is “flourishing,” with a renewed focus on “touring exhibitions and ephemeral performances, events and discussions more suited to the tough economic climate than commercially driven work catering to rich buyers.” Athens has about 50 non-profit, non-hierarchical arts groups including collective Filopappou, the Nomadic Architecture Network and Reconstruction Community. The last-mentioned is composed of artists, architects and theorists and has created a sound-map of Athens that is available online.

As DeFanti says in the Guardian,

“I think that the recession is like a crack in the wall. You worry the wall is going to fall down, and then you see that on the other side there is a garden you never knew existed.”

 

Related Care2 Coverage

Eurocrisis: Time For a Holiday

5 Reasons the Euro Zone Crisis Is Getting Even Worse

5 Reasons for Spain’s Colossal Economic Troubles

 

 

 

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Photo by Festival de Almagro

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22 comments

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5:39AM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

where's the compassion?

1:03PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Bonjour,
The joy of Creating is one the most important think in Life.
Then, if somebody put his attention on creating something artistic, anything, he will be in better shape that if he is going to be in apathy, boredom and find really no goals that he would like to reach for.
Joy of Creating is simple. You create something you find beautiful, and that is done.
Stree, mental depression are coming for lack of goals, lack of happiness. You could easily change this by doing your own creation. If you would ike to find something beautifull, you could create, create, create and in doing this, you also would find the way to reach more beauty !

7:38AM PDT on Jul 30, 2012

The rising rate of unemployment in Spain is really worrying, going to the theatre and taking part in other artistic pursuits might take people's mind off their troubles for the time being but it is not a long term solution. The Spanish tourist industry creates a lot of seasonal jobs, Spain along with Greece and Italy are popular holiday destinations, the season will start to draw to an end in around 6 weeks and will see even more people without jobs. I have been to variousl art events in Spain and Greece, they are often very good but they can only distract people for so long.

12:43AM PDT on Jul 30, 2012

Thanks.

9:36PM PDT on Jul 29, 2012

That's pretty cool.....but they need to do something about unemployment

1:50PM PDT on Jul 29, 2012

This is exactly what I'm doing.

12:38PM PDT on Jul 29, 2012

Interesting.

12:02PM PDT on Jul 29, 2012

thanks.

12:02PM PDT on Jul 29, 2012

thanks.

11:23AM PDT on Jul 29, 2012

The arts make - and keep - us human.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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