Reality, if the status of the artist will be abandoned: “Even in a good perspective, they won’t rent me an apartment”

“It’s been a long time since someone called me. I lived with my mother, and one day, when I came home and saw that I had neither a penny nor food, I said to her: “I’m going to read Metro poems, will they give me something?” Interpreter Carlos Olala was 59 years old when he made this tough decision in 2016. His mother, also an actress, not only supported his stand but also wanted to follow him. People responded well, even within the profession, when they saw that we were making visible a situation that affects more than 90% of people who dedicate themselves to it, they gave us a hand,” he recalled to this newspaper.

Olala started her acting career at the age of 45 and since then she has appeared in more than 100 series and 30 movies. Figures that, despite sounding high and reliable, do not alleviate the main problem faced by its professional counterparts: periodicity. Its mitigation is one of the main goals of the Statute of the Artist, one of the historical demands of the cultural sector, which aims to provide its employees with a legal base adapted to their particularities.

The Ministry of Culture and Sports, led by Mikel Isetta, created an inter-ministerial commission in July 2021 to approve this provision proposed by the Union of Actors. Two years have seen significant progress, such as the first special unemployment benefit for the sector, which will help up to 70,000 self-employed workers; and compatibility of retirement pension with artistic activity. But there is still a long way to go. Arrangements for cultural self-employment and social security recognition remain up in the air over what happens in the general election this week.

“The Charter is a great starting point to protect the vulnerable sector. When it came out a few years ago, it seemed like a great plan for everyone…that’s why it’s so fascinating that it has come to nothing. People need to talk. about it in the campaign, but it seems to be disappearing,” laments actress Natalia Mateo (Cuenca, 1975) to this newspaper.

The latest social and labor report on Spanish actors and dancers, prepared by the AISGE Foundation (Society of Performing Artists, Management) – which plans to publish a new one this year – says that only 8.17% of actors earn more than 12,000 euros a year. practicing their profession. And only 2.15% of them exceed 30,000 euros.

“Even in good times, we are always vulnerable,” laments the translator of titles such as AzulOscuroCasiNegro and Siete mesas de billiards francés. “Even with good prospects, they wouldn’t rent me an apartment because fiscally, maybe my last year was a disaster,” he says. “Where I am now, I just told the landlord that he was a good person because he didn’t meet the requirements. I asked him to meet me to explain,” he adds.

Natalia Mateo appreciates that the fact that she received it was a matter of sympathy. As well as those who hire actors and actresses in other professions, which for the majority need to be reconciled: “They know that they are workers who do not want to be there and that if they pass the test, they are going to. Leave.” “It seems that we throw the reeds very well,” he comments ironically. The actor insists that we should not be deceived by the glamor that surrounds us in the cultural sector, which holds award ceremonies and premieres in the best clothes: “90% of those on the red carpet are unemployed. Maybe they’re doing propaganda. A movie they made last year that they haven’t worked on since.”

Fernando Ramallo (Madrid, 1980) entered the world of cinema by chance, sneaking into a casting held by David Trueba at a high school in the capital, which landed him a fifteen-year-old role in the film La buena vida (1996). “I’ve been lucky because they’ve signed me there and in all the plays I’ve worked on. But lately I’ve been getting mostly other jobs,” he comments on his career. To Job, who, as he notes, “must be a little insulted, because you can’t do eight hours, and if you’re called for a casting, you can’t leave.” “They’re tough and thankless as a telemarketer, a delivery person, a private security guard, an administrative assistant at a family member’s company, if you’re lucky…we work on a lot of things so people don’t think we’re being subsidized.” “Many times it borders on begging,” he concludes.

The actor says he has friends who “took five to eight months to accumulate unemployment. If it’s already hard to accumulate it, imagine waiting that long. There are people who are forced to leave their homes because they can’t get paid. There are only four or five actors who make good earning money, and almost 90% live off other work.” The artist’s statute, as Olala explains, provides that “you are not required to collect so many days to be eligible for unemployment benefits.” This requirement of a certain number of days of contribution also affects the pension to which they aspire to access. .

Ramalo regrets that there is a “great ignorance” of culture and the “legal level” of the work of his profession: “Even SEPE (Public Employment and Social Economy Service) workers tell you when you are going to be unemployed. Brace yourself because it’s a mess.” “It depends on the person you meet, they can express deviations. For anyone who knows about artists, it’s like winning the lottery,” Olala adds.

And it is that, as Ramalo argues, “it is very difficult for an actor or actress to collect unemployment, as it is considered as a normal job, because they do not have enough to contribute.” “You play the lead role in a film, people see it and think you’ve made a fortune. But it’s two months of work. If you’re lucky, it’s normal to work 60 days a year,” he points out. Even if it’s a series that they can participate in for years, there is a situation where the summer comes, the contracts are terminated and they are re-hired later.

“When the episodes of the series that are shot the following week arrive on Friday, the first thing you do is see if there’s any scene that’s ‘outside cemetery – night’ to see if your character has been killed off. , because that implies that you go to the street”, explains Carlos Olala (Barcelona, ​​1957) about how they experience periods when they are part of the cast of television fiction.

The cast of such titles as El tiempo entre costuras extols the recognition of the cessation as one of the key points of the charter. “It’s been done in France since 1920. They’re 100 years ahead of us,” he warns. “All tax, labor and often social regulations are designed for the type of activity that does not include this feature. We cannot compare ourselves to another group,” he says.

Among the disadvantages he refers to is the lack of a job board, since it would take six months of working in the same company to access it. “How are you going to be there so long, if it may have been four days in one series, two in another, etc. It is recognized what should be our right to be on equal terms with other citizens, we do not ask to be paid more or paid less, we want to be equal with others, but “We don’t have any legal structure that defines what is discontinuous. So the greatest achievement of the statute is the one who finally recognizes it.”

When Natalya Mateos imagines that she developed her career under the conditions set by the artist’s statute, it is clear: “My health would be better because I had periods of serious stress, which was directly related to the fact that I was not getting paid. This forced me to work three jobs a day, I did not eat well, I did not sleep. In my case, it turned into a picture of severe stress, which led to already chronic pathologies.” The actor claims that the best definition of happiness is the “absence of fear”: “Part of the economic cuts that we have go directly to the bag of terror, especially if you have a family to take care of.” “My fear was always that if my parents needed something, it would catch me at a good time,” he admits.

The discontinuity and instability of the profession also affects the pension. “Few actors come with a decent pension,” laments the interpreter. “You don’t retire,” says Ramloo, “so it’s interesting that it can be compatible with other work that you can do sometimes, like a series head.”

Natalya Matteo insists that outside the profession, “a series of myths are sold, poverty is romanticized and ultimately it is a matter of dignity.” Among them is the phrase “live from art”, which he reveals: “I don’t live from art, I live from my work. No one lives by art, as people do not live by iron, they live by work. Iron. I don’t do anything to art for love, I sit down to watch the succession, but I don’t write”.

He also condemns the phrase “artists are the owners of our hunger”, as he claims: “We are parents, we eat, we pay for housing without a fixed income. Imagine if I earn 4,000 euros in a month, maybe they should. You served me for eight months.” And he emphasizes: “We don’t have to protect a movie star who does six films a year, it’s to protect the sector.”

Are you optimistic about the election now? “The problem is that everything said may fall on deaf ears, but we’re confident that if Vox doesn’t win, it will go forward,” shares Ramlo. The far-right party does not consider this in its election program, but PSOE and Sumari and PP do. “We need protection,” argues Natalia Mateo, who takes the opportunity to respond to the censorship of works that has been taking place in town halls in recent weeks following the pact between PP and Vox: “You can’t silence an artist, no matter how hard you try. Try it.”

Source: El Diario

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