Artists, musicians, actors and others in Austria have forced the government to give priority to the creative industry.
The response of the government to the covid-19 pandemic as it affects the creative industry, according to the concerned professionals, was weak. Specifically, the Culture Minister of Austria, Ulrike Lunacek, was single out as lacking the required initiative to meet the urgency to rescue the creative industry. Lunacek, who resigned today, was in office for less than four months.
Reports said of recent, theatre directors have attacked the government for failing to come up with a timetable for the easing of the lockdown and clear rules for safe performances. Also, other personalities in the arts, including musicians and film producers, it was reported, complained that the government neglected their financial needs and concerns diring the coronavirus pandemic.
Lunacek, in a televised address, said she was “making way for someone else who can hopefully achieve more than I have in this crisis situation.” She explained that the pandemic gave her “no chance to realise the ambitious government plans for culture.”
The reports said she lamented the poverty level of many artists and culture workers in her resignation speech, disclosing how her office’s hotline had been overwhelmed with calls from people who have no money for basic needs. “This is not worthy of one of the richest countries in the world,” she said, appealing for an increase in emergency pay during the coronavirus lockdown and long-term efforts to secure a strategy for “fair pay” in the arts sector.
Indeed, she appeared to be a wrong person for the job from the period of her appointment. Described as a member of the Green party, Lunacek had previously focussed on foreign and European policy, particularly in relation to women and families. Given that background, her appointment in January, reports said, met with scepticism from arts officials who said she had little experience in the world of culture.
Meanwhile, a newspaper in Austria Die Presse said Lunacek’s successor may be announced as early as today.