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Bertsolaritza takes a hit in 2020, with 700 shows less

Dec 21, 2020
Compared to previous year’s figures, six out of ten bertso performances have not been carried out and that means an economic loss of around 735,000 euros. The association Bertsozale Elkartea wants to highlight the work of the bertso-eskolas and local event planners for their support in such a difficult year.

The end of the year is usually a good moment to look back on the activity of the last twelve months and analyze the whole year. Moreover, this evaluation takes an additional importance this year, as a result of the setback suffered due to the pandemic.

According to the data collected by the centre of documentation Xenpelar, 1,121 bertso shows were held in 2019 and 435 performances are foreseen to be carried out by the end of 2020. In other words: in comparison to previous years, six out of ten performances have not been held and that results in an economic loss of 735,000 euros.

Data of bertso performances in 2019 and 2020

December 2020: out of 52, 41 have been festival (friendly shows: 0 / freestyle shows: 2 / special events: 9)
December 2019: out of 74, 23 have been festivals (friendly shows: 15 / freestyle shows: 20 / special events: 16)


The largest consequences on freestyle and friendly performances

Due to the security measures to face the pandemic, the organization of some kind of shows has been more feasible than others. The most affected performances are the ones based on freestyle and friendly formats; those where improvisators perform in the street and very close to the audience and those which are developed within a meal. These are the natures of the majority of the shows, but not this year: the first ones have fallen by 58% and the second ones by 86%. 

The performances based on freestyle and friendly formats have fallen by 58% and 86%

On the contrary, the number of festivals - shows where bertsolaris perform on stage while the audience is sitting in front, in a prudent distance – have increased, as this format meets the measures against COVID-19 much better. Nevertheless, this amount has also been smaller than usual; actually, compared to 2019, they have fallen by 37%. 


The aftermath of the pandemic in Lanku Kultur Zerbitzuak

The impact on the providers that work in the promotion of bertso shows has also been notable. The company Lanku Kultur Zerbitzuak, that offers services for cultural events, has been in Temporary Employment Regulation during spring, since there was a sudden stoppage of shows in March and a clear and unusual decrease during the following months.

These last decades, the amount of bertso performances has increased outstandingly, according to the data gathered in Xenpelar documentation centre. In fact, the figures in the beginning of 2019 were not bad at all, and there was even a small rise in the first two months, when the activity usually has a downturn. In spring, the demand usually begins to increase, but having to struggle with the pandemic makes it hard.

Bertso shows as well as cultural events have been adapted to the new conditions. It has not been easy, but the bertsolaris have stood out the excitement of the fans of bertsolaritza, noticeable even behind the mask. In that sense, the association Bertsozale Elkartea wants to hightlight the importance of the bertso-eskolas (groups to learn about about bertsolaritza, practise it as well as support in its dissemination) and local event planners, since, despite all the difficulties, they have made a great effort to organize performances.