by Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star), 22 May 2020
MANILA, Philippines — Some 400,000 workers in the country’s arts and culture sector have been left jobless as the government restricts mass gatherings amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Al Ryan Alejandre, executive director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), yesterday said they are asking help for the 3,615 groups from 19 sectors greatly affected by the community quarantine.
The effect of COVID-19 pandemic on cultural workers and artists in the country is enormous since most of them are freelancers. There is no employee-employer relationship. They are the ones directly hit by the lockdown, Alejandre said in Filipino during the “Laging Handa” briefing.
He said the NCCA is conducting financial distribution to the cultural workers and artists using the agency’s P76.8-million budget. However, it can only help around 14,520 freelance workers nationwide, he added.
He said the Department of Labor and Employment has provided P1.5 million to the NCCA, but this is limited to only 400 people.
Despite the problem, Alejandre said the commission would continue to hold programs for May, which is declared as National Arts Month.
NCCA deputy executive director Marichu Tellan said they are coordinating with the Cultural Center of the Philippines and other groups to discuss the fate of the performing arts industry in the country.
Tellan said they could not yet fully operate due to the mass gathering restrictions ordered by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases as most of their activities involve huge gatherings and face-to-face interactions.
She said a series of consultations would be held next month.