At their video-conference dedicated to actions to contrast the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on 8 April 2020, the EU’s Minister for Culture mapped the existing national initiatives to support the cultural and creative sectors. The European Commission announced the intention to set-up a platform where to gather all these information, and a second one where to collect all the needs coming from the sectors.
The various actions range from social measures to protect freelancers, independent artists and cultural professionals, to more procedural arrangements to extend deadlines and change criteria for ongoing projects. Some countries are also setting up compensation schemes – in compliance with EU State Aid rules – and other funds specifically targeting cultural and creative sectors.
Below you can find an overview, State by State.
- The general Corona rescue fund amounting to € 38 billion is open to companies from the cultural and creative sectors.
- A dedicated FAQs section for artists has been opened in the Ministry website and is regularly updated.
- Further measures have been announced, including:
- a rescue fund for the self–employed, SMEs and sole traders, relevant for freelance artists;
- the Social Insurance Fund for artists provides monetary support of € 5.000 for individual artists;
- Sectorial rescue funds have been put in place, for music (€ 1 million), visual arts, audiovisual media, writers, performers and producers of sound carriers and music videos.
- WALLONIE/BRUXELLES enables cultural operators to obtain reimbursement for cancelled projects. For postponed projects, grants are valid for new dates. Some additional costs linked to the borders closing will be also covered. A dedicated fund of up to 8 million euros to support cultural actors has been set-up.
- FLANDERS: specific support is foreseen for the self-employed and start-ups facing bankruptcy.
- FEDERAL LEVEL: CCS are eligible for support by the central government’s plan for businesses, including the postponement or exemption from payment of social security contributions for self-employed workers, the replacement income for self-employed persons (bridging right), and flexibility in the execution of federal public contracts. All self-employed persons in sectors subject to federal contingency plan measures (including cultural activities) will be entitled to this bridging right for the months of March and April.
Croatia, which is holding the rotating Presidency of the EU Council, has adopted:
- A Crisis fund to provide liquidity support to freelance artists, the self-employed and other natural and legal persons in the cultural sector.
- Measures to delay the fulfilment of obligations to implement programmes, and accept the costs of programmes cancelled due to the Coronavirus, to ensure minimum liquidity.
- Revision of the status of freelance artists will be now suspended for the next six months.
- General economic measures: 100 billion CZK in direct support and 900 billion CZK in the form of guarantees.
- The Ministry of Culture committed to present a rescue program for culture with a budget of 1.5 billion CZK.
- Through the program “Antivirus”, the State is supporting companies by paying out percentages of salaries (80%) and social security contributions (60%) for affected employees. Self-employed people can be exempted from paying health and social insurance for a period of six months.
A summary of initiatives undertaken can be found here, in Czech.
- A compensation scheme for organisers of events, concerts and other large cultural activities cancelled due to COVID-19. It covers loss of income from cancelled tickets and expenses related to artists’ fees.
- The European Commission (DG COMP) has approved under EU State Aid rules a scheme worth 12 billion euros to compensate organisers for damages suffered due to the cancellation of large events (over 1000 people).
- A Three-Party agreement aiming to prevent private companies from laying off their staff members. Similar arrangements for self-employed are expected, too.
A summary of initiatives undertaken can be found here, in Danish.
- The State compensates the direct costs of cultural events cancelled up to 3 million euros, in the framework of a bigger scheme of aid to support the economy in times of coronavirus, already approved by the European Commission (DG COMP) under EU State Aid rules. It is primarily intended for state cultural organisations, state-involvement foundations, bodies and beneficiaries getting financing from the state budget through the Ministry of Culture.
- The Ministry of Culture plans to increase considerably the amount and develop further existing support schemes for freelance and independent creative persons channelled through artists’ unions. This will be done by adjusting the terms of application and qualifying criteria of the existing Creative Persons and Artistic Associations Act.
- Self-employed workers qualify for an advance social tax support measure.
- The Cultural Endowment continues receiving applications and issuing grants and evaluating reports as planned. Increase of subsidies granted is under consideration. The Ministry will not request reimbursement of funds already used to carry out activities that have been cancelled or changed due to circumstances related to the spread of coronavirus
- A number of large Finnish foundations, the Ministry of Education and Culture, and Arts Promotion Centre Finland are working together to grant swift assistance to arts and culture professionals. Funding totalling approximately EUR 1.5 million will be apportioned during April via the Arts Promotion Centre (Taike). Foundations will also grant significant sums in aid through their own channels.
- Emergency Fund of 23.5 million euros for various cultural sectors:
- 10 million for music;
- 5 million for entertainment;
- 5 million for literature;
- 2 million for visual arts.
- As a general measure, a Solidarity Fund of 1 billion euros has been established: artists and authors can apply for aid of up to 1.500 euros.
- Exceptional measures allowing cultural workers, in particular intermittent workers, to keep their rights until the end of the containment period.
- An information and assistance point for cultural professionals has been set up.
Regions are working together with the Ministries and other cultural agencies for the diagnosis and evaluation of needs. Most regions decided to maintain granted subsidies, even if the events are cancelled. Some regions have already voted for an emergency fund to complement the state measures.
- An aid package worth 159 billion euros has been announced, including up to 50 billion euros in aid for individuals, including artists, who are self-employed as well as for small businesses, specifically targeting CCS, too. The aid will come in the form of grants to help with costs like venue rentals and artist studios. In addition to the stimulus money, social security (including unemployment insurance) will be made available to freelancers for a period of six months.
- Other (previous) measures include the following:
- Small businesses as well as single self-employed persons, i.e. especially artists and small cultural businesses, can apply for grants if they have a liquidity shortage due to the corona pandemic. Single self-employed persons and small businesses with up to 5 employees can apply for a grant of 9,000 euros for a period of three months, companies with up to 10 employees of up to 15,000 euros.
- For cultural projects that cannot be carried out, grants do not have to be reimbursed. The decision will be made on a case-by-case basis.
- Scaling up of existing programmes: measures under existing national support programmes will benefit cultural institutions as well as, in particular, artists and other freelancers working in the cultural and creative industries in need.
- German funding institutions such as “Kulturstiftung des Bundes” announced that they would continue to support already funded projects: all costs incurred up to a possible cancellation or postponement of a planned event are eligible. Existing project funding can – if possible – be adapted to the new situation by making changes to the project delivery.
- Regional initiatives are being adopted, such as the North Rhino-Westfalia emergency aid, supporting freelance professional artists in financial difficulties due to the cancellation of bookings. They will receive a one-off payment of up to 2,000 EUR to secure their livelihood.
- General economic measures: an amount of €800 will be granted at the beginning of April to the self-employed for the period March 15-April 30, including CCS.
- Guarantee schemes for loans to SMEs will be set-up in agreement with the European Commission and the European Investment Bank.
- Three Call for Proposals were announced:
- For the development of digital cultural material
- For the management of intangible cultural heritage
- For the collections and museums of Modern Culture
- The government announced sector-specific measures, but concrete aids have not been adopted yet.
- General economic measures: tax authorities are to exempt 81,480 SMEs from the flat-rate tax liability until June 30 and delay tax debts already incurred before 1 March until after the end of the state of emergency.
- General economic measures: a short-term (6 weeks) COVID-19 payment of 350 euros per week to all employees and self-employed people who have lost employment due to the health crisis.
- Support measures for self-employed persons in the culture sector, royalty recipients and culture sector’s NGOs that are unable to work.
- In emergency situations a compensation mechanism could be used through the State Culture Capital Fund.
- A new law to support most crisis-affected sectors including event organisers:
- For a fixed period, financial support to employers whose workers are unemployed (max 700 EUR or 75% of salary) – 200 million euros.
- Deferred payment of taxes (up to 3 years) for businesses.
A summary of initiatives can be found here, in English.
- Besides general economic measures, expansion of the Artists Social Security Programme, to provide and pay creative downtime for artists who are unable to generate income from their activities due to an emergency, and to allocate additional funding for this purpose.
- Emergency Relief for Culture and Arts Organisations and Artists. The Lithuanian Council for Culture (LKT), the main funding body for culture and arts projects, has made clear that COVID-19-related impacts may be treated as force majeure. This means that the LKT will not request reimbursement of funds already used to carry out activities that have been cancelled or changed due to circumstances related to the spread of Coronavirus. The Lithuanian Film Centre (LKC), the main funding body for the film sector, has stated that Coronavirus will be treated as force majeure and any related issues will be addressed individually in communication with the curators of the projects, treating coronavirus as a force majeure factor.
- The Economic Stimulus and Coronavirus Mitigation Action Plan includes the extension of the provisions of the Artists Social Security Programme and the allocation of additional funds, including for the self-employed who have paid social security contributions.
A summary of initiatives can be found here, in English.
- Besides general economic measures, specific provisions for CCS were adopted, particularly for independent and ‘unsteady’ (intermittent) professional performing artists:
- social assistance for independent professional artists, with the possibility of paying monthly social assistance up to the minimum social wage for qualified persons
- additional daily allowances
- Reduction for independent professional artists of the income conditions required to be able to benefit from the aid schemes in proportion to the duration of the persistence of the exceptional event (i.e. € 714 per month during which the situation persists), as well as a reduction in the days of activity required for the intermittent workers of the show, also in proportion to the duration of persistence of the exceptional event (namely 7 days per month during which the situation continues).
A summary of initiatives can be found here, in French.
The “Cura Italia” package worth 25 billion euros includes measures for CCS, such as:
- Extension of unemployment benefits to cultural workers and non-profit organisations;
- 600 euros allowance for freelancers in the performing arts sector for the month of March (to be extended to following months according to the development of the crisis);
- Suspension of social security payments, welfare contributions and other levies and taxes (including VAT) for museums, theatres, concert venues and other cultural organisations;
- Vouchers for reimbursement of tickets already sold (e.g. cinema, museums, theatres) valid for 1 year;
- Establishment of two funds to support the audiovisual, cinema and performing arts sectors with overall budget of 130 million euros;
- 10% of income from “private copy” levies collected by SIAE to support authors and performers;
- 150 million euros for international cultural relations.
- For national funds administered by Arts Council Malta, the necessary extensions are being granted and late projects are not being penalised.
- General economic measures. The Government has introduced for all sectors (including CCS) postponement of tax payments, and help for those working as freelancers.
- A number of direct measures for CCS have been adopted, to complement general economic measures (e.g., work time reduction for employers and employees, support for the self-employed, extension/postponement of tax payments). This includes applying for a tax-free direct compensation of 4,000 euros for damages.
- Extension of the reporting deadline for all organisations funded by the Basis Cultural Infrastructure
- A three-month suspension of payment obligation for museums that rent their premises from the Central Government Real Estate Agency
- Four-year grants (2017-2020) to be extended into 2021
- Some criteria will be dismissed in reporting of activities
- Organisations funded by the Basis Cultural Infrastructure will receive an advance payment of their grants in Q3 2020.
A summary of initiatives can be found here, in Dutch.
- CCS are included in the government’s ‘anti-crisis shield’, a wider package for individuals and companies being forced to suspend their activities, with support up to 900 million euros:
- firms and NGOs in CCS will get money to pay 40% of their employees’ remuneration up to the average national salary and self-employed people 80% income support (this is a horizontal measure, for all industries).
- a Social Fund for Creators (which existed before) will be increased – all creators and artists suffering hardship can ask for one-off special support due to unexpected problems.
- There will be new grant calls for “culture online”.
- Audiovisual premieres are allowed online.
- A special indemnities fund for CCS will be opened after the state of crisis is over.
- Flexibility in delivery in grants for CCS
A summary of initiatives can be found here, in Polish.
- Besides general economic measures, the Ministry of Culture has announced 1 million euros of extraordinary financing for the CCS.
- The Ministry of Culture has created a website where all relevant information for professionals in the CCS sector will be updated and where the support measures will be announced and explained.
- The Directorate-General for the Arts will continue to support projects that are currently suspended. This means that under the contracts for the arts support programmes, the implementation of artistic activities and projects agreed in the contracts in force may be suspended.
- Measures specifically for artists and creatives were announced. The measures imply financial support to registered independent artists and creatives in copyright regime for up to 75% of the national average salary, in the 15 days following their request for reimbursement.
- The Ministry of Culture is setting up a dedicated funding scheme (“ACCES Online 2020” programme) for projects of the independent/private cultural sector (CCS) that use and promote digital instruments, in order to help organisations adapt their practices to the current situation and enable them to continue their work online. An envelope of 200.000 euros has been earmarked for it.
- The Slovak Audiovisual Fund and Slovak Arts Council announced flexibility in the implementation of their programmes, waiting for fresh measures to be adopted by the newly-installed government.
- General economic measures, including the possibility of deferring tax liability for two years or to pay on instalments, with no interest.
- General economic measures have been announced, benefiting also the CCS, among others:
- Support to self-employment: All freelancers who suspend their activities or face a 75% loss of their incomes have the right to an extraordinary benefit due to cessation of activities; this benefit will be equal to the 70% of their contribution bases. In that situation, they will be exempt from paying social security contributions.
- Approval of a State guarantee line for enterprises and freelancers worth €100 million. This guarantee will cover 50% of the amount of the loan obtained in order to meet the payment of invoices, the need of circulating capital, maturities of financial or tax obligations or other liquidity needs.
- Besides general economic measures, specific funding to support CCS has been foreseen. The total budget is 500 million Swedish crown (45 million euros), to be allocated by State agencies such as the Swedish Arts Council (mainly for organisations) and the Arts Grant Committee (mainly for individual artists). The government has announced that both smaller and larger organisations active in the cultural field will be beneficiaries, whatever the organisational form, and that state institutions are not beneficiaries of this specific package.
- There have also been several regional and local initiatives made. For example, the Region Västragötaland (Göteborg) have a current call for CCS (with a budget of 8 million Swedish crown)
- CCS can also benefit from more general measures for big companies, as well as favourable tax regimes.
EUROPEAN RESPONSE AND JOINT ACTIONS
- At the end of the video-conference Commissioner Mariya Gabriel further stressed on three horizontal measures already adopted by the European Commission which can apply to professionals from the cultural and creative sectors, namely the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, and the unemployment scheme SURE, together with the Temporary Framework for State Aid measures to make use of the full flexibility foreseen under State Aid rules.
- Commissioner Gabriel said that the Commission is also exploring how to adapt the CCS Guarantee Facility to mitigate the effects of the crisis.
- The set-up of a platform gathering all information on support initiatives for CCS as well as of a platform where CCS can state their needs has been announced.