2020 was a complex year, full of uncertainty, sadness, learning and experiences. Among many other things, Covid-19 forced us to become familiar with indices, rates and percentages that have once again shown that data are necessary in order to understand our surroundings, but they are not enough to interpret it. Some aspects of reality do not fit neatly into the mould set by a figure, and this has become much clearer in such a dystopian year as 2020.

Now, at the Cultural Data Observatory, we are facing the challenge of offering you a perspective, in figures, of a year which forced us to postpone activities, close facilities and modify habits and priorities. What was held? What wasn't? Which centres opened? Under what conditions? Which activities were moved to a virtual environment? How were they received? We need data in order to answer these questions.

But cultural data have neither the tradition nor the standardisation that a sector like health has. In order to obtain a robust, rigorous series of data that are useful and comparable, it is necessary to agree on precise definitions, data collection systems, etc., with the sectors involved, and while we continue to work to this end, the world has been shaken by a crisis that has turned reality and the way we describe it upside-down.

So, how do we explain 2020?

The annual data for the last ten years that you will find in this Observatory do not explain 2020 well enough, but they do show the effects of this huge crisis. When we have completed them they will be uploaded so you can access them.

However, in parallel, we have created a specific section for monitoring, with greater frequency (weekly or monthly in some cases), the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on various cultural sectors. As we have said, the data do not explain everything, but we believe that, with this new monitoring process, we are contributing to an analysis of how the city's cultural activity has been affected and how it is recovering (only available in the Catalan version of this website).

Cultural Data Observatory. Institute of Culture. Barcelona City Council

June 2021