Survey on Corona and theatre in Germany & results

Erstellt am: 13. Januar 2021
Autor: Susanne Petridis
Kategorie: Campaigns

How are you doing since March 2020? Did you lose a lot of jobs and how are you doing financially? Were you able to survive and what happens to you when you can’t do your profession for months?

During our weekly meetings in the Inner Circle of krea[K]tiv, we all noticed that there is so little data on how individual freelancers are doing. The general impression was, that artists are doing pretty bad – but neither the Musikrat, the Bühnenverein nor the unions had collected data so far – only in general, concerning all musicians and unfortunately it was very confusing in the evaluation.

So we had to conduct a survey – we spent two months fine-tuning and exchanging ideas on how to approach the topic since we hadn’t had the opportunity to commission an institute to do so.

What moves you? What are your problems? How can krea[K]tiv help so that you feel more seen?  Perhaps we can search for solutions or make suggestions to politicians and theater directors? A big issue is that the proportion of foreigners in music theater is very high, and many don’t know that there is financial aid from the state at all and how to apply for it, even though they have paid into the German social system for years.

The survey results after three months also show that a considerable proportion of non-permanent employees live on savings that will soon be used up or they are financed by their partner or parents. The solo self-employment aid (Solo-Selbständigen-Hilfe) has so far been of no use, as artists have hardly any operating costs and still have to make a living.

What does it do to your soul and psyche when everything that seemed secure suddenly breaks away and our center of life and work, the stages of this world, are closed for months almost everywhere? What effects did and does the Corona Lockdown have on you?

A few (about 3 percent) have been happy about this pause in spring because their calendars were overflowing and saying no in our industry is simply difficult. Will I be asked again if I cancel because I’m exhausted?

But for the majority, the disadvantages, unfortunately, outweigh the benefits – 60 percent, unfortunately, suffer from a lack of motivation. What’s the point of practicing if there’s no job coming? 50 percent have serious sleep problems. No wonder, if one neither knows how to pay the rent nor whether the promised contracts will take place or are issued at all.

In our action #Weihnachtsschrei, we passed on some of the results to politicians, because figures and analyses go down well and are perceived differently than individual fates. After all, theaters employ nearly 40,000 people in Germany, and working conditions have always been precarious and unfair.

In the survey, we also want to find out whether theaters have made an effort to find solutions for freelancers by means of short-time work or replacing lost fees or corresponding contractual advances. So far, unfortunately, this has not happened, but at least some theaters are giving it a lot of thought and are also fighting for freelancers.

Another very important thing to know – what do you, the members of krea[K]tiv want? What kind of representation do you want? Where can we help and what advice do you want?

Should there be more trustworthy persons that are there for you in cases of #MeToo or abuse of power? Would a mediator who mediates on-site be a useful thing? Do you need more info on taxes, social security law, or contracts?

The more you participate, the better we can respond to your needs – feel free to pass on the survey and share your ideas with us! What is still urgently missing for us artists?


Development of places in an ensemble 1990 – 2018


The theatre market in Germany has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. Fixed ensembles were downsized, theatres merged and liquidated.

Development of guest contracts:

This has resulted in a clear shift. A clear decline in permanent positions can be observed.

Development of singers employed as members of an opera studio:

At the same time, there was a large increase in guest contracts and the creation of new opera studios, which are increasingly replacing beginner contracts.

Sources of data for the three graphs

Corona pandemic since March 2020

In the corona pandemic, the first lockdown from March 2020 to summer 2020 showed that due to the pandemic and the official order to close everything, many organizers could only cancel. Due to the specifications of the carrier, contractual fees for freelancers were only partially paid because the clauses on „force majeure“ were invoked. So far there have been few complaints.

Loss of fee – how much did directors/theatres pay in case of cancellation?

Some organizers then offered replacement contracts in the near and distant future. This was only partially a solution because the artists‘ living expenses still have to be paid now.

Replacement offers: Did you get a replacement offer?

In Germany, the average monthly household expenditure is around 2.700 euros.
Artists often live alone at the beginning, so the monthly expenses are sometimes much more modest.

Monthly costs:

Most of our survey participants have been in the job for a long time. 70% have been in the job for 10 years, 21% even for more than 25 years.

How many years have you been working in a theatre?

Many of the respondents live alone or as a couple, but 25% have to support a whole family with their income.

How many persons are part of your household?

These long years of the profession not only accumulate a lot of experience, but also a lot of taxpayers ’money paid during this period, as well as social security payments. Many domestic and foreign colleagues working in Germany do not know that there are options for support from the state, e.g. through unemployment benefit 1, housing benefit, parental benefit and much more.

Did you get help from the government? Where does your money come from at the moment?

The negative mood and lack of prospects are intensified by the renewed restrictions caused by lockdowns, the end of which is not in sight. In autumn there were still quite a few contracts that the „free“ hoped to carry out.

How many signed contracts do you have:

But many are already concerned that in the long run, they will no longer be able to make a living from their profession in the theatre.

Do you believe that you will be able to live from your profession in 2021?

Similar to the recently published Berlin survey, according to which every third musician is considering taking up a different profession,
Some of our respondents also believe that the time has come to consider an alternative to music.

Source Berlin survey

Another important result of the Corona crisis can also be seen in the spread of many psychological problems among artists.
The lack of job opportunities and prospects trigger insomnia and depression for many, and the hours spent on the Internet are increasing.
Only a few (5 %) report a new relaxation,
since they stopped working so much.

Did you observe one of the following: lack of motivation – depression – problems sleeping – alcohol abuse – suicidal thoughts – panic attacks – internet addiction

One of our most important topics at krea[K]tiv – musiktheater stands up e.V. is the community spirit. Standing together and being there for one another, offering advice, denouncing grievances and addressing unfair working conditions. The wish also comes from our respondents – so far many (69 percent) are not unionized because they do not see the point in it. Many see unions as too slow and immobile. With our new association for freelancers, we want to work with you to ensure that the freelancers are heard and respected.

Let’s do it – get involved and step in! Musiktheater stands up!