Monitoring the cultural domain in Romania during the Covid-19 crisis

Readjusting Cultural Consumption

Release date: April 8, 2020

The crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has also led to changes regarding cultural consumption. Because the cultural offer is largely moving to the digital environment, we are witnessing a transfer of cultural consumption from offline to online, a transformation of public consumption into non-public consumption.


  • the accessibility of the cultural act: maintaining and facilitating access to artistic creation and cultural products.
  • diversification of the cultural offer: watching performances remotely, regardless of the geographical positioning of the consumer, directly in one’s own home.
  • visibility of cultural institutions: the public can discover new institutions, actors and directors, various interpretations of classical plays.
  • the possibility of the public to easily choose and change between the cultural products consumed.


  • replacement of the experience in the theatres: the public no longer experiences, directly and without mediation, the relationship with the artist and the artistic act.
  • lower technical quality of the content offered online: in some cases, the quality of the image is affected by the distribution channels, the sound is recorded mono, the viewer’s perspective is limited by the filmed frame, sometimes there are interruptions in the online transmissions.
  • most of the performances are recordings of events that have already taken place.
  • the ease of change between the cultural products consumed can lead to the lack of a full engagement of the participant in the cultural act.


  • Internet network overload [SOURCE]
  • Increased traffic on VOD platforms [SOURCE]

A report of the online financial platform Revolut regarding the period stretching from March the 14th to April the 14th notes that there is at least a 40% increase in the value and amount of spending on on-line entertainment. In this category, the report includes the online film streaming services as well as digital games [SOURCE]. Moreover, Netflix reports a doubling of their profits compared to last year, attributing this increase to the physical distancing and isolation measures imposed by the current extraordinary context [SOURCE]. Similarly, the online film-streaming platform, HBO GO, marked a 25% increase of their cash inflow in the last month. [SOURCE]


Initiatives to encourage the cultural consumption of solidarity [SOURCE] have appeared both in Romania and abroad in support of the cultural sector, the efforts of physicians or other causes generated by the current context:

  • Radio Romania Cultural prioritizes the broadcast of Romanian music to support local artists affected by the crisis. [SOURCE]
  • Fundraising campaigns:
  • The solidarity ticket: the organizers of festivals and events in Cluj County invite the public to purchase solidarity tickets, by donating Lei 10, 50 or 100 to the One Cluj fund dedicated to supporting hospitals, authorities and civic initiatives to combat the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Pay the rent of an independent actor: the organizers call on the public to buy tickets to a theatre performance. The money from the tickets is donated to independent actors. By April 8th, 2020, almost Lei 55,000 were collected.
  • Tickets and subscriptions in advance [SOURCE] or vouchers [SOURCE] for future enactments: the public can purchase them now and convert them into tickets when resuming offline activity. [SOURCE]
  • Appeal for the non-reimbursement of the tickets for the cancelled performances: Tandarica Theatre in Bucharest, Romanian National Opera in Cluj, I.D. Sarbu Dramatic Theatre in Petrosani, I.L. Caragiale National Theatre in Bucharest.

How is cultural consumption reflected in public discourse?

The opinions of psychotherapists, as expressed in mass-media, identify this difficult time as a catalyst on the interest towards cultural consumption. Physical and psychological isolation generates the necessity for psychological comfort that culture can generate [SOURCE].

Cultural consumption is constructed in this sense as one of the methods to mitigate the effects of generalized panic and pressure of isolation, and to enable people to spend time in a useful, pleasant and interesting way. Thus, it is suggested that, through culture, the COVID-19 crisis can be seen as an opportunity to try new things, cultural products put aside [SOURCE], cultural consumption and self-reconnection [SOURCE]. Along the same lines of argument, cultural consumption is seen as an instrument that helps improve morale and can contribute to well-being [SOURCE].