Kooperativa: From Bad to Worse II – Independent Culture Three Years into the Pandemic

The online event “From Bad to Worse II: Independent Culture Three Years into the Pandemic” focuses on the qualitative research that was conducted by Kooperativa and Center for the Empirical Cultural Studies of South-East Europe (CESK) during 2022 that aimed to explore and analyse the ramifications that COVID-19 pandemic caused for independent cultural sector in SEE. The research derived from the quantitative analysis conducted by CESK in 2020 ‘Now it is only more visible: Life and Work of Cultural Workers in the Times of the Corona Pandemic’.

The severe social and economical crises emanating from the pandemic found the independent cultural sector in a specific crisis of its own, marked by destabilisation and declining of public and stakeholders support, causing further deterioration of the working conditions in the sector. In order to gain insight into the very specific set of conditions in which the independent culture operates since 2020, the research was starting to develop with 567 cultural workers participating in an online survey the same year, followed by in-depth analysis in 2022 including semi-structured interviews with 40 professionals from Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Kosovo.

In the research, various aspects of the professional and social life were addressed, both during the start of the pandemic and in the later stages – in the so-called “new normal” period. The participants were asked to reflect on their personal and professional experiences during this time, the support systems they have detected, finance cuts or opportunities, program implementation and planning, new ways of communication, obstacles, and adapted practices in their everyday work. Data that was collected and analysed by the CESK team (Višnja Kisić and Goran Tomka) thus points to certain similarities and trends regarding the further precarisation, domestication, digitalisation and projectification of work in the sector, as well as de-professionalisation and lack of institutional support systems.

The research results and discussion, as well as the knowledge gained in the whole process, will be a powerful instrument in further advocacy endeavours of the network, bringing new insights and proposals to the table.

SPEAKERS: Višnja Kisić, Goran Tomka and Predrag Cvetičanin (CESK)

MODERATOR: Marija Krnić (Kooperativa)


The program is supported by Balkan Trust for Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the USAID and co-funded by the European Union, as part of the open call for proposals EACEA 39/2019 Cultural Cooperation Projects in the Western Balkans “Strengthening cultural cooperation with and competitiveness of cultural and creative industries in the Western Balkans”. The Call for Proposals is entirely funded by the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA II)