Collective responses to Covid-19: cultural work in times of crisis


Time frame

September 2021 - July 2022

Project description

The precarious position of workers and freelancers in the cultural and creative industries has been studied extensively, with research foregrounding low levels of job security and low income across the breadth of the creative sectors. Since Covid-19, these conditions have both been laid bare and aggravated. Much of the reserves have dried up – financially and psychologically –, with many makers and firms balancing on the verge of collapse.

Solutions to such precariousness have received much less (academic) attention. This research focuses on one of such solutions. Recently, a relatively traditional form of protection against uncertain circumstances has resurfaced: that of collective working and co-operatives. Co-ops are – also in academic research – increasingly recognised as a source of cross-sectoral solidarity, sharing resources and by reciprocal exchange of sustenance and encouragement.

In many cases, such co-ops have materialised in (shared) spaces or facilities. Obviously, the current situation means that co-ops have to reinvent their practices – both in terms of the way members communicate and co- operate, and in the ways they organise, execute and share their creative practices. This too affects their ways of working and potential for alleviation in the current situation.

As such, this project aims to explore the challenges and potential of co-operative work in pandemic times. We focus on three main aspects:

  • (How) has co-operative work offered a safety net for those working in one of the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic: the cultural industries?
  • (How) have the practices of cultural co-ops changed after the Covid-19 measures?
  • What do co-ops offer for post-pandemic recovery?

By connecting our existing research on exchange, collaborative work and cultural co-ops, and adding a layer of empirical research on co-ops in pandemic times, this project contributes to the emerging field of exchange and collaborative work, and the resilience of the creative industries.

Batavierhuis buiten


Radboud-Glasgow Collaboration Fund


University of Glasgow


Yosha Wijngaarden,