In 2021, 7.36 million people were employed in the cultural sector in the EU, representing 3.7% of total employment. At the EU level, the number of people working in culture in the EU recovered after dipping during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns (7.35 million employees in 2019, 7.14 in 2020).
Data published by Eurostat shows that in 2021 compared with 2019, the share of people employed in the cultural sector increased in 14 EU Member States and fell in the other 13. The most significant increases were recorded in Latvia, France (both +13%) and Portugal (+12%). Meanwhile, the biggest decreases were recorded in Romania (-18%), Malta (-11%) and Luxembourg (-10%).
Over the two consecutive years, 2020 and 2021, a continuous increase in cultural employment was recorded in Latvia, France, Portugal, Czechia and Lithuania. Conversely, a progressive decrease in cultural employment was recorded in Estonia, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Finland, Malta and Romania.
Since 2011, the share of women in cultural employment has been increasing. In 2011 there were 3.63 million men and 3 million women working in the cultural sector (55% compared with 45%); in 2021, there were 3.76 million men and 3.60 million women (51% compared with 49%), with the lowest gender employment gap ever recorded in the sector.
The picture varied somewhat between countries, with women surpassing the share of men working in the cultural sector in 14 countries. The highest shares of women were recorded in Estonia (63%), Lithuania (61%) and Latvia (58%). At the other end of the scale, the shares of women were the lowest in Italy (44%) and Malta (30%).