ILO | COVID-19 and the media and culture sector

ILO sectoral brief on covid-19 and the culture sector

This ILO brief highlights the impact of COVID-19 on the media and culture sector, hit hard by unemployment and closed productions.

It analyses how the sector’s diversity in terms of contract types and occupations creates challenges in accessing social protection, safety and health, and economic relief programmes.

The brief also offers policy options, drawing from countries’ examples and initiatives from workers’ and employers’ organizations, to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic on the sector.

Download the ILO brief in English
Descargar el brief de la OIT en Español

Rome Opera crisis: IAEA issues a protest letter


The three International Federations representing workers in the Arts and Entertainment sector call upon the Board of the Rome Opera Theatre to reverse its decision to dismiss all orchestra musicians and choir members.

The International Federation of Musicians (FIM), the International Federation of Actors (FIA), UNI – Media, Entertainment & Arts (UNI MEI) and their member organisations in more than 120 countries were extremely shocked to learn about the decision of the Board of the Rome Opera to terminate the contracts of all the orchestra musicians and choir members of this institution, in a disgraceful act of cultural vandalism. This decision is short-sighted, totally inappropriate from a management and labour point of view and extremely dangerous from an artistic perspective.

The three signatory federations wish to also vigorously denounce the wrongful assertions made by the Board to justify its decision. Contrary to its affirmations, no other European capital has made the mistake of outsourcing the artistic human resources of such an emblematic institution as the Rome Opera. It is common knowledge that the personality of an orchestra, its mastery of a vast repertoire with the required level of performance and, finally, its international reputation rely on its own, permanent artists as well as on years of daily collective and individual practice. No professional involved in opera or orchestra management can seriously recommend trading a permanent orchestra of international reputation against a non-existent, hypothetical, external entity.

What is at stake is not only the jobs of 182 skilled, dedicated artists and the livelihoods of their families. It is also about delivering a fundamental service of the highest possible quality to all music lovers in Italy and beyond. Decades of patient work are necessary to build a world-class institution like the Rome Opera. One wrong, hasty decision suffices to irrevocably break it. Italy gave the art of opera to the world. It would be a tragedy if the capital of opera’s homeland was to give up its own culture and unique heritage.

FIM, FIA and UNI MEI strongly believe that a different solution to the current crisis can be found. To this end, they urge the Rome Opera Board, the Municipality of Rome and the Italian Government to immediately announce the reinstatement of all dismissed artists and to enter into a genuine, professional and open-minded negotiation excluding any form of outsourcing. The international music community would not understand if the Italian Government, which currently holds the Presidency of the European Union, did not take all necessary measures to ensure that the brutal, anti-cultural decision of the Rome Opera Board be overturned.

Support to symphony and opera music, theatre, dance and ballet, which are a precious and fragile part of the world’s cultural heritage, is a prime responsibility of national, regional and local governments. The conscious, voluntary destruction of a pillar of Italian culture cannot be an option.

FIM, FIA and UNI MEI stand ready to facilitate the resumption of negotiations with a view to reaching a reasonable compromise, in the interest of all parties concerned.

Together, FIM, FIA, and UNI-MEI form the International Arts and Entertainment alliance (IAEA). This global sectoral alliance is a member of the Council of Global Unions and the ETUC and is a recognised European social partner organsation

World Public Service Day

The value of public service broadcasting and public support for culture

On this important World Public Service Day, the International Arts and Entertainment Alliance (IAEA – the Global Union Federation for the Arts and Entertainment sector) reiterates the value of public support for cultural services and institutions, as well as for public service broadcasting, as a vital means to bring cultural content to the public.

Public investment in, and support for, cultural services and institutions fostering cultural traditions and allowing them to continue to flourish, develop and evolve in new directions through the creation of new works and performances. Maintaining high standards of excellence in the cultural field requires public investment to allow ambitious production. It equally creates the scope to allow the performing arts to continue to function as a cradle for experimentation, creativity and innovation, as the vital core of the cultural and creative industry sector. It is a fundamental right of citizens to have access to and to participate in the vibrant cultural life of their societies. This means maintaining a high level of quality cultural services, reflecting the cultural, linguistic, territorial differences of the country where it is made, and ensuring that accessible to all of society. Decent employment and working conditions are a vital part of ensuring that the sector will be sustainable and attractive in the long-term.

Public broadcasting has an important role in providing access and participation in public life. For many people the public service broadcaster in their country is the main source of information about politics, cultural events and wider society. UNESCO is committed to supporting and promoting public broadcasting to serve the interests of the people as citizens and not as consumers. Public service broadcasters reach much of the population and also minority groups, thus contributing to social inclusion and the improvement of civil society. Therefore, the public broadcaster should have the following functions: Universality, diversity, independence and impartiality, innovation, wide coverage, high technical quality, and high production levels. The public broadcaster should make programmes which reflect the cultural, linguistic, territorial differences of the country in which it broadcasts.

The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, argues that the signatories “may take measures to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions within their territory”, including through actions to “provide opportunities for domestic cultural activities, goods and services among all those available within the national territory for the creation, production, dissemination, distribution and enjoyment of such domestic cultural activities, goods and services”; as well as “to promote the diversity of media, including through public service broadcasting principles” The IAEA firmly believes that these principles and their value should be strongly recalled in the context of reflection on the wider value of public services.

Public services including public service broadcasting and cultural services in many countries have suffered serious cuts as response to the financial and sovereign debt crisis. Governments and the International Monetary Fund bring about stringent austerity policies programs in many countries. The failures of the international financial markets, the key players as well as austerity policies harm employment, creativity, access to quality cultural production, cultural diversity, pluralistic information and democracy.

Therefore, the trade unions, representing workers in the arts and entertainment sector across the world, endorse the importance of public funding for culture and of public service broadcasting for democracy and for our societies. We therefore ask that all countries commit themselves to the defence of these sectors, ensuring adequate funds to fulfil the objectives that we have set out above. It must be a fundamental right of citizenship to have access to a rich and diverse cultural offers, as well as a pluralistic media with many opinions and voices. Otherwise, if these are allowed to wither away through lack of funding, we will lose an important voice in society. A plurality of voices is important for an open democratic country.

We call on the citizens of the world to:

  • Resist all attempts to destroy publicly funded cultural institutions and services; public television, radio and the internet.
  • Cherish and Support the cultural sector and the cultural tradition and its accessibility to all in their own country
  • Cherish and Support public broadcaster in their own country and see it as a valuable service providing information and cultural entertainment for all
  • Embrace and support these vital sectors
  • Think that democracy is never enough. Fight for more
  • Realize that every conquered democratic right is useful to the struggle for more democracy.

Iran – Stop the execution of Abdolreza Ghanbari

Abdolreza Ghanbari

Abdolreza Ghanbari, a 44-year-old lecturer of Payam e Nour University, was arrested at his home in Pakdasht on 4 January 2010. He was charged with Moharebeh (enmity towards God) for receiving unsolicited emails from an armed opposition group, to which he does not belong. While in detention at the notorious Evin Prison, Prof. Ghanbari was interrogated for 25 days in a row and forced to confess under duress to unproven charges. Nasrin Sotoudeh was his lawyer until he was himself condemned to a six year sentence in Evin prison for “propaganda against the regime” and “acting against national security”.

In 2007, Prof. Ghanbari had already been detained for 120 days and sentenced to a six-month suspension from teaching and exiled from Sari to Pakdasht. Prof. Ghanbari has no known political connections. He was previously involved in teacher union activities until his union ITTA was dissolved in 2007.

Prof. Ghanbari’s death sentence has been confirmed by Tehran’s Appeal Court, Branch 36 in April 2010. He has since been waiting on death row. A request for pardon was rejected on February 28 by the Commission of Justice in Tehran. It means that authorities are allowed to proceed with the execution.

The Education International calls on the Iranian authorities to stay the execution of Prof. Abdolreza Ghanbari and revoke the death sentence; to drop all charges against all detained trade unionists and release them immediately; to comply with the international labour standards and respect the rights of Iranian workers to freedom of association, assembly and expression.

Sign the petition!



Dear colleagues,

You may have recently read in the press about Marzieh Vafamehr.

Marzieh is an actress in her own country, Iran. She was sentenced to one year in jail and 90 lashes for playing in a feature film the role of an young actress living in Teheran whose show is banned by authorities and who, in order to continue to express herself artistically, is condemned to live an underground existence. The film clearly denounces the hurdles and humiliation that artists regularly have to face in Iran to express their opinion against the establishment. We understand that many in Iran watched the film through informal channels as the government had not authorised its screening.

The film, an Australian-Iranian coproduction, was strongly criticized by the conservative press and led to imprisonment of Marzieh Vafamehr and recently to this sentence, which she is determined to appeal.

We are trying to collect as many signatures as possible for a petition to Mr. Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We would be grateful if you could encourage your members to join this petition, thus supporting this campaign for freedom of expression and human rights.

The petition is available on line at:

We thank you in advance for your help and support.