The scope, unevenness, and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on cultural work has been widely acknowledged. This article turns to how sections of the cultural industries responded to the onset of this crisis. Our account is based on document research completed during the first wave of the pandemic. We gathered news reports, impact survey results, policy recommendations, open letters, event announcements, and other grey literature generated by a range of organizations in the cultural sector, including trade unions, professional associations, and activist groups, among others. Framed by the concepts ‘labouring of culture’ and ‘policy from below’, our thematic analysis of this material reveals that cultural workers responded to the pandemic by surfacing the idea of cultural production as work; by enacting practices of care and mutual aid; and by proposing policy changes. These collective responses are marked by multiple tensions, particularly between rehabilitating the status quo in the cultural sector and radically reimagining it for a post-COVID-19 world.


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de Peuter, G., Oakley, K. & Trusolino, M. 2022, 'The pandemic politics of cultural work: collective responses to the COVID-19 crisis', International Journal of Cultural Policy. https://doi.org/10.1080/10286632.2022.2064459

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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