2,500 artists are desperate for hotels to reopen as they cannot live on 100 euro ERTE
Entertainment is one of the fundamental services of any tourist complex, but at the same time it has been one of the most ignored by the Covid pandemic, and will most likely it will be the one that takes the longest to recover. Over 2,500 artists from all disciplines including musicians, singers, acrobats, dancers, and magicians who work in hotels and cabaret bars on the islands, either as self-employed, salaried workers, or through agencies, most of who have been unemployed for more than a year.
Their situation does not differ too much from that of other workers who have been inactive since March 14th last year, when the state of alarm was declared, and they collect benefits from the employment regulation files (ERTE). However, there is one big difference: the scheme by which these workers contribute to Social Security has left them completely unprotected and today, almost all of them receive minimal benefits of between 50 and 100 euros per month.
Yes some are working again, mainly in bars, and yes some being self-employed qualify for the ‘cessation de actividad’ support. There are also some, that many people will claim, have ‘dug their own hole’ by avoiding contributions for a long period of time, so only deserve what they are receiving, but the vast majority who perform in hotels, have an ‘alta’ and ‘baja’ for each show, which has left them in a vulnerable position.
Johan García, the president of the Association of Animation, Leisure and Entertainment Hotelero y Extrahotel de Canarias (Asaoye), which was created after ‘lockdown’ to defend the rights of these workers and give visibility to this group and that of the entertainers, of which there are 7,000 members, explains that these workers generate numerous contracts per month for registration and cancellation of Social Security, which has played against them when calculating the benefits to be collected within an ERTE.
García explains that Asaoye has requested that the department of Social Security combines daily contracts into one so that the benefit to be collected is an average that allows people to live. “These workers could not prove their total income because most of the payrolls are small and on a daily basis. We are trying to get Social Security to recognize that if a musician works 30 days in a month they should all be brought together in one to be able to receive a benefit the same as the rest of the workers of the general scheme,” he says.
This situation means that many artists are only receiving ERTE and unemployment benefits of 50, 100 or 150 euros a month, according to Asaoye. "They have been living off savings, help from relatives and many have changed sectors to be able to work doing something different," said García, who points out that the group of hotel artists is one of the most punished by the pandemic, having no income from their work which is totally linked to tourism or social benefits. “It is being very hard, but we are all confident that this will begin to recover shortly,” he added.
Asaoye have launched various initiatives, such as an online festival with the sponsorship of public institutions so that artists can perform via a live stream and get paid for it. Today, of the 2,500 artists in the Canary Islands, it is estimated that only 10% continue to work in hotels with a reduced number of performances per week and month.
Diana Meiriño is one of the artists who has been affected by the closure of the hotels. She is a self-employed singer of Galician-Venezuelan origin and has been performing for more than 25 years, spending 21 years of her professional career here in the Canary Islands. After the declaration of the state of alarm and closure of the hotels, she took advantage of the benefit for cessation of activity until June.
After the reopening of the hotels last summer, she returned to her activity and since then, her working life has been like a roller coaster in which the Canarian hoteliers have survived by reopening and closing depending on the restrictions and the evolution of Covid.
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Since December 15th, when extra restrictions came in for the first time, she only works in one hotel and the rest of the time gives singing lessons, but says she foresees an increase in activity after Easter and summer due to the reopening of some hotels. Meiriño does however, consider herself lucky because she is one of the few artists who is still active while many of her colleagues are unemployed and in ERTE.
Garcia finally added that “there is light at the end of the tunnel with regard to reactivation with other countries looking at lifting travel restrictions, and the vaccination plan in Europe moving forward, but that does not help the current situation of these artists who need urgent help now!”
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