How is the European cultural sector responding to the current corona crisis?
The cultural and creative sector is one of the sectors heavily affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus and subsequent crisis. What are governments doing to mitigate the losses?
On 19 March, EUNIC Global launched a quick survey amongst its members on their government’s initiatives to mitigate the loss of income for artists and creative professionals and are sharing the results here. Find the complete overview in our dedicated folder.
Feel free to let us know about more at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The EU’s response
- A petition for a call to action to support the European cultural and creative scenes has been put forth by Members of the European Parliament. It calls both the EU and member states to take action in a coordinated manner to mitigate the negative consequences of the crisis on the cultural and creative sectors. Find the petition here.
- Statement on Creative Europe guaranteeing “maximum flexibility” in the implementation of the programme, within the limits of the applicable legal framework
- Deadline extensions for Creative Europe and Horizon 2020 were announced by the relevant Directorate Generals.
- European Parliament: Release by chair of the Committee on Culture and Education, Sabine Verheyen (27 March 2020), to call for action to support the creative and cultural sector in a coordinated way.
Statement by Sabine Verheyen: "The Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative adopted yesterday – once approved by Council – will free up a total of 37 billion EUR to help efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and the social and economic ramifications of the essential public health measures that have been put in place. This is welcome news, if only the beginning of the response. The cultural and creative sectors across Europe have been ravaged by the impact of stringent public health measures, with concerts cancelled, theatres, museums and cinemas closed, and film and television production halted. The list, sadly, goes on."
The Flemish Department of Culture has created an information site on the corona crisis, including FAQ's, information on applications and reporting for subsidies, information on the current tax situation, and other relevant links. The Ministry of Economy’s Agency for Innovation and Business (VLAIO) has put together general information for employers, also relevant for culture.
Cultuurloket (information and business support centre for the cultural sector in Flanders) made a specific page on their website on the impact of the crisis around work, and solutions around contracts, temporary unemployment, fees for artists and cultural organisations concerning cancelled events. FlandersArts Institute wrote a text on possibilities to replace income for free-lancers.
A coalition of artists' unions set up a webpage with all the sources for information and legal support for artists and a reporting point for stories and concerns. A coalition of artists' unions is appealing towards the Ministry of Culture in Flanders and Federal Ministries, for an emergency fund. Testimonies are used to put pressure on decision making on this emergency fund.
The Budget Minister of Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Frédéric Daerden, setup a 50 million euro fund on Thursday 19 March to help culture, early childhood, sport, youth, education and university hospitals. Most of this first emergency fund will go to culture and early childhood. This fund will come to the rescue of cultural and associative activities that cannot take place because of the confinement, but for which the remuneration of artists and entertainment professionals must nevertheless be ensured. An online platform will be launched on 6 April in order to gather all the information and procedures to get some support.
On Tuesday 7 April, the Belgian government has approved the proposition of the Ministry of Culture to dedicate over 8 million euros for the support of cultural actors that have been impacted by the cancellation of activities and closure of venues. You can find the press release here on the website of Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles.
Wallonie-Bruxelles is dedicating this year's call for proposals to bilateral cooperation projects addressing COVID-19 problematic. The two calls will respectively co-finance development partnership projects and education projects for global and solidarity citizenship focusing on universal values. The partner countries involved are Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Haiti, Morocco, Palestine, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia.
The Ministry of Culture's initiatives:
- Advance payment of library fee
- Maintaining State Grants for “Højskoler”Permission to derogate from rules on public information
- Postponement of transition to new antenna TV signal
- More Danish music on the radioSolution for zoos
General aid packages:
- Deferral of payment of VAT, A-tax, B-tax and Am-contribution
- Cover 75% of employees’ salaries, if they promise not to cut staff
- Salary compensation for self-employed and freelancers
- Compensation for corporate fixed expenses
- Compensation for cancellation of major eventsEasier access to loans
- Increased student loan opportunities
Ministry of Culture Denmark: (Corona initiatives)
The Finnish Institute has announced an open call for artists “Together Alone – fast paced” to create work from their homes related to the following themes: state of emergency, radical change, resilience, artistic practice in the future, alone together. More info on the project here.
The Ministry of Culture announced on Wednesday 18 March an emergency fund of 22 million euros for various cultural sectors impacted by the coronavirus crisis. This first fund will include 10 million for music, 5 million for entertainment, 5 million for literature and 2 million for visual arts. The government has already announced a set of other support measures for business, including cultural sector structures. These specific measures will be supplemented by these initial support measures. You can find the announcement on the Ministry of Culture’s website.
On 27 March the Ministry of Culture also announced additional measures specifically for artists to receive an individual support of up to 1500€. The Ministry of Culture is encouraging everyone to follow the campaign #Culturecheznous
General support to small businesses
Federal aids of 159 billion euros have been approved by the parliament to all affected sectors on 23 March 2020. 50 billion euros are dedicated to direct support for small businesses and single self-employed persons –self-employed persons without employees, individual artists, etc. The applications for these grants will be handled electronically via federal states (Bundesländer) or municipalities. These emergency aid measures have now been adopted by theFederal Government, the German Bundestag and the Bundesrat.
These support measures have been approved:
- Grants: 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.
- Personal living conditions: For basic security (ALG II) for a limited period up to September, reserves do not have to be used up before basic security takes effect. Rent and additional charges (water, gas, electricity,...) can also be submitted for reimbursement without further examination. This opens up the path of emergency aid to many creative artists.Increased protection mechanisms: Landlords cannot terminate rental agreements due to rent debts for studios, rehearsal rooms, clubs and others, before September. Insolvency law regulations have also been relaxed.
The following protection mechanisms also apply to larger companies:
- Tax relief measures: The options for deferring tax liabilities and reducing tax advance payments have been improved.
- Short-time work allowance: The requirements for short-time work allowance have been reduced. Smaller companies can now apply for short-time work benefits. In addition, credit options have been significantly improved. These measures apply to all businesses, but can also be taken advantage of by companies in the cultural and creative industries. Also, the is an extensive waiver of claims for projects funded by the Commissioner for Culture and Media: In the event of an early termination of funded cultural projects and events, the Commissioner will check individual cases whether there reimbursement of funds that have already been spent can be waived.
Overview of measures for the creative sector (by the German government )
Overview of all available aids with a focus on the creative sectors (by Commissioner for Culture and Media )
General overview over impact of coronavirus crisis (by Germany government)
Support to the film sector
Another initiative of the Commissioner for culture and media and the a number of local funding agencies will support the film sector. The measures will be laid out for the areas of production, distribution and cinema. Press release
All the Bundesländer have adopted their own measures. An overview with links to all Länder can be found here.
German Culture Council
One of the driving forces behind the advocacy work of the German cultural and creative sectors is the German Culture Council (Deutscher Kulturrat). They provide regular updates, overviews, and a Corona-Newsletter (three editions per week, started on 16 March 2020). Overview over all activities concerning corona of Kulturrat
As a first response, the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports is contributing €15 million to support Contemporary Culture and its creators and to increase the sector’s resilience through a complete plan. Similarly to the majority of the working population, self-employed and seasonal workers in the field of culture, including performing arts professionals, are entitled to special purpose compensation of €800 paid by the State. For what concerns the specific sectors,the measures for the strength of Contemporary Culture due to the effects of the health crises announced on April 2nd 2020 include:
Film and Cinema
-Special call for the support of the film sector
-Special call for the animation industry
-Acceleration and simplification of the application process regarding funding proposals
-Extension of existing film production deadlines
-Emergency support of small art-house cinemas
-Increase of the funding for Municipal and Regional Theaters
-Support of small theatrical productions-Increase of the monetary amount of the National Theater Play Awards
-Support of contemporary dance companies Visual Arts
-Specific call for visual arts projects, including long-term research and interdisciplinary projects
-Partial coverage of the participation fee of art galleries for the Art Athina International Art Fair
-Allocation of additional resources to state-owned museums of Contemporary Art for the acquisition of works by Greek visual artists,
-Direct acquisition by the Ministry of Culture and Sports of works by Greek visual artists.
-Design of a new digital platform to promote Greek literature, in light of the cancellation of all major international book fairs so far. The platform will also provide funding opportunities for the translation of Greek works
-Increasing the resilience and outreach capacity of the Thessaloniki International Book Fair for next year
-Acquisition and distribution through a dedicated platform of eBooks for children and young adults in collaboration with the Greek publishing community
-Specific call for design projects in order to promote the visibility of Greek design abroad
-Call from the Archaeological Resources Fund for the design of products to be sold in the stores of state-run archaeological and cultural heritage museums.
-Specific call for digital culture projects aiming at improving remote access of culture The goal of this program is to finance a change in the form of dissemination of cultural activity, especially via the Internet. This new grant scheme will support professional artists and enable the live presentation of their work on online platforms.
-Specific call for gaming projects
Modern Cultural and Intangible Cultural Heritage
-Two special calls for the support and promotion of Modern Cultural and Intangible Cultural Heritage.
On 16 March, Italy approved a €25bn decree to tackle the impact of coronavirus; the decree also includes some specific provisions for cultural actors.
As an integration of the Performing Arts, Cinema and Audiovisual National Fund, an additional emergency fund has been set with a provisional endowment of €130m.
Similarly to the majority of the working population, self-employed and seasonal workers in the field of culture and tourism, including performing arts professionals, are entitled to a special grant of €600 for the month of March, to be recalibrated for the following months according to the developments of the crisis. Moreover, the eligibility criteria for the Special wage compensation fund (Cassa Integrazione in Deroga) have been amended to allow for the cultural firms to benefit from this scheme. Social security duties and taxes are suspended also for museums, heritage sites, theatres, concert halls, cinemas, libraries, and for freelance tourist guides and ticketing services. In order to avoid further income loss for cultural institutions and venues overall, such actors can now exchange sold tickets related to activities meant to take place during the lockdown with equally worth vouchers, to be used within 12 months.
For what concerns the music industry, the reallocation of the 10% private copy fee pertaining to the Italian Society of Authors and Editors is being discussed, with the prospect of using those amounts to temporarily support musicians and authors who normally are entitled to receive royalties.
The Government of Ireland has created a dedicated Covid 19 information page on their website.
On 3rd April, Ms. Josepha Madigan, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht announced measures to support artistic & cultural life during Covid-19 Emergency. These initiatives were developed in collaboration with Culture Ireland, Creative Ireland, the Arts Council, RTE, the local authorities and many other organisations who are putting programmes and supports in place to encourage creativity as a source of individual and community wellbeing. Further details can be found here.
The Minister of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht also announced a new grant scheme to support professional artists and enable the live presentation of their work on online platforms. Funding of €100,000 is being made available on a match funded basis by FACEBOOK Ireland and Culture Ireland. Further details can be found here.
Culture Ireland is committed to working on behalf of artists and supporting them through this challenging period by honouring grants for cancelled and postponed events and through the online promotion of Irish Artists. Further details can be found here.
The Arts Council of Ireland is the Irish government agency for developing the arts. It works in partnership with artists, arts organisations, public policy makers and others to build a central place for the arts in Irish life. The Arts Council have confirmed that they will honour all existing funding commitments, there will be no financial penalties for organisations/individuals that are unable to deliver key activities/key services arising from the impact of the COVID-19 virus and grantees will be able to draw down up to 90 percent of their funding commitment, with immediate effect. Further details can be found here.
On 3rd April 2020, the Arts Council made a further announcement of a €1 million fund to enable artists to make new and original art during the COVID-19 crisis. Further details can be found here. undefined Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland is the national development agency for the Irish film, television and animation industry. Further details on their range of support measures can be found here.
Further details of the culture and heritage supports available in Ireland can be found here.
Ireland’s national television and radio broadcaster have developed a cross-platform teaching initiative for primary school children. Through this initiative children will be able to watch, download and engage with curriculum-based content, project work, and fun activities which allow them to continue their learning journey despite the closure of schools. Further details can be found here.
The government adopted first measures in support of the cultural sector, particularly for independent and ‘unsteady’ (intermittent) professional performing artists. In particular, this means 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, up to 20 daily allowances per month, in the event of involuntary inactivity compared to the 121 daily allowances provided for in "normal" time.
These additional social aids are granted on condition that the applicant demonstrates that the lack of artistic activity is directly related to the exceptional event (for example: cancellation of an exhibition, cancellation of cinematographic productions or failure to order or artistic productions). It is also planned to immunise the period of involuntary inactivity by reducing, for independent professional artists, 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).
The Ministry of Culture has put together a communication on these measures.
The Ministry has also created the platform “Culture à domicile” where cultural actors can notify cultural activities that they propose from home and online.
The Government of Malta has introduced a programme called the called "Covid Wage Supplement" in an attempt to mitigate the economic impacts of the spread of COVID-19. The Covid Wage Supplement provides a basic wage supplement to people active in sectors deemed to have suffered drastically. It is being managed by Malta Enterprise, Malta’s economic development agency.
The creative arts (including performing and visual arts) were identified as one such sector which suffered drastically as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. Through this programme, people working in the creative arts –whether full-time employees or self-employed/freelance – are entitled to a monthly supplement of EUR 800. Part-time employees within the creative arts sector are entitled to a monthly supplement of EUR 500. Creative practitioners working in the sectors which are originally considered to have been adversely, but not drastically, affected were to beentitled to a monthly supplement of EUR 160 in the case of full-time employees, EUR 100 in the case of part-time employees, and EUR 320 in the case of self-employed/freelancers. These sectors include publishing; motion picture, video and television programming; cultural education; photography and radiobroadcasting.
Furthermore, Arts Council Malta issued a special call for the Malta Arts Fund, the most established funding programme for the arts in Malta. This call provides a fund of EUR 75,000 for artists and practitioners to develop projects which address the cultural and creative sector as impacted by the situation. This call encourages artists to consider various pertinent themes – including borders, confinement and isolation – within their projects.
DutchCulture's Mobility Info Point, together with Het Nieuwe Instituut, collects information and Frequently Asked Questions about the possible consequences of the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent measures taken worldwide for international cultural cooperation. This includes the most recent travel advices and restrictions and the measures taken in other countries. DutchCulture works closely with its (inter)national network, including embassies, cultural organisations and governments worldwide. Find the information here.
On March 17, a joint letter was sent to Minister Van Engelshovenabout the consequences of COVID-19 for the cultural and creative sector. It was sent by Kunsten '92 and signed by a broad alliance of organisations and representatives of the sector, including DutchCulture.
In a letter of 27 March 2020, the Minister of Culture explained a number of direct measures for the cultural and creative sector to find connection for the cultural and creative sector with general compensation measures (e.g. work time reduction for employers and employees; support for the self-employed; extension of tax payments). This includes applying for a tax-free direct compensation of EUR 4,000 for damages (see here for more info).
Furthermore, some sector specific measures are taken:
- A three-month suspension of payment obligation for museums that rent their premises from the Central Government Real Estate Agency
- Extension of the reporting deadline for all organisations funded by the Basis Cultural Infrastructure
- Four-year grants (2017-2020) to be extended into 2021
- Performance criteria for 2020 will be dismissed in reporting of activities
- Organisations funded by the Basis Cultural Infrastructure to receive an advance payment of their grant for the third quarter of 2020
See the letter here. More information about the ministry of Culture’s measures here and here.
All public cultural funds are following the measures above and can take additional measures themselves: Mondriaan Fund for visual arts, Dutch Foundation for Literature, Film Fund, Dutch Performing Arts, Creative Industries Fund, Dutch Participation Fund . Private funds are in coordination with the Ministry of Culture too and are looking into ways to follow the aforementioned measures in their own capacity.
Cultural initiatives online
Google Arts & Culture have included virtual tours of among others the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum.
In addition to all this, TransArtists, part of DutchCulture and home of the largest source of info about worldwide residencies, has expanded its artist in residence-helpdesk for corona related questions. Find more on their Helpdesk.
The Anti-Crisis Shield, prepared by the Polish government and adopted by the Parliament, assumes state support for artists, employees of the cultural sector, as well as companies and non-governmental organisations dealing with culture, whose activities cannot be continued during the period of the epidemic, an increase in funds for social assistance for artists and additional support for the development of new forms of sharing culture online and activation after the restoration of activities. The total value of support for the cultural sector in various forms may have a value of up to PLN 4 billion (ca. 900 million euro).
In accordance with the decision of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage in the minister's grant programs (a major instrument to support the sector in Poland – starting from books, heritage protection, music, promotion of Polish culture abroad, digital culture, film, visual art etc.) announced so far, in justified cases the managing authorities will apply an individual approach to each applicant allowing the implementation of specific tasks under changed conditions and continuity in conducting cultural activities. Therefore the sector can still receive the financial support for various activities.
- Social assistance for artists: Social assistance from the Culture Promotion Fund can be obtained by artists who are in a difficult financial situation. The Minister of Culture and National Heritage has made efforts to increase the funds allocated to social assistance for artists and cultural professionals.
- Due to the status of an epidemic threat or epidemic status, it is not possible to display movies in cinemas. Therefore, it was proposed to change the regulations on film and audiovisual production, indicating that “film” is also a production that has not been shown in the cinema. This is to enable the the audiovisual sector to receive grants/subsidies from the Polish Film Institute also for audiovisual productions which will be presented on digital platforms (VOD).
- The amendments to the “Act on audiovisual incentives”was also introduced and it allows extending the deadlines and simplifying the procedures for submitting applications for financial support for audiovisual productions.
- Additionally, after the end of the epidemic, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage plans to announce a large grant program whose main goal will be to revive cultural activities and offset any losses that the cultural sector has suffered through the restrictions. Currently, conceptual work is underway to develop the optimal scope of support.
- On Friday (April 3rd) ) the Minister of Culture and National Heritage has announced a special grant program “digital culture” addressed to a wide range of stakeholders conducting cultural activities. The goal of this program is to finance a change in the form of dissemination of cultural activity, especially via the Internet. This will help to develop new activities on-line. The total budget of the program is estimated at 20 mln PLN.
- Moreover, the individual artists and cultural entities may benefit from the general regulations implemented by the Polish government and local authorities as a support in times of crisis, such as:reduction of local taxes and rents, change of payment dates of tax instalments, loans to cover the running costs of running a micro-enterprise, co-financing of part of employee remuneration costs, etc. The vast majority of cultural institutions subordinated to the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage have transferred their daily activities to the internet, offering various exhibitions, concerts, seminars, workshops for children and youth and access to their audiovisual archives, using for example the possibilities of Google Arts& Culture platform. The list is available here (in Polish): gov.pl/web/kultura/kultura-w-sieci
Portugal has taken several steps to establish exceptional and temporary measures to provide a response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the cultural and artistic domains, especially concerning the cancellation of performances and similar events. Indeed, considering the international public health emergency declared by the World Health Organization on 30 January 2020, as well as the classification of the COVID-19 disease as a pandemic on 11 March, the Portuguese Government published a series of extraordinary and urgent measures in different domains affecting the culture and arts sector.
The Spanish government has launched a package of general economic measures to support small businesses and workers that include the cultural industry. To name the most important ones in relation to this field:
-Financial support: credit lines available for small businesses and freelancers lamoncloa.gob.es/serviciosdeprensa/notasprensa/cultura/Paginas/2020/lamoncloa.gob.es/serviciosdeprensa/notasprensa/cultura/Paginas/2020/250320-autonomos.aspx
-Reduce the requirements to benefit from redundancy pay in cases of “ERTE” (Redundancy Scheme)
-Promoting culture online: the Ministry of Culture and Sport has started a campaign to offer citizens online cultural content from national organizations such as museums, libraries and the film archive. bne.es
Campaign: #laculturaentucasa culturaydeporte.gob.es/portada.html
The cultural sector is very vulnerable to the current crisis and, therefore, the government opens up the possibility for further specific measures once the pandemic is under control.
The cultural sector will specifically receive extra SEK 500 million (approximately EUR 45 million) in support due to the economic consequences affecting these sectors as a result of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The funds to culture will be granted to activities that lose revenue as a result of the restriction on public gatherings, since cultural events are affected by the Public Health Agency of Sweden’s guidelines and by changes in public behaviour.
The fund is distributed among the major Swedish cultural agencies:
- Kulturrådet (the Arts Council) : SEK 370 million for cultural organisations and enterprises that had to cancel their events (exhibitions, literary events, shows, concerts).
- Konstnärsnämnden (the Artists' Committee) : SEK 70 million in the form of grants for individual artists who have lost their income (visual arts, dance, theatre, circus, music, film)
- Svensk Filminstitutet (SFI) : SEK 50 million, for cinemas, festivals, distributors
- Sveriges Författarfond (the Writers' Fund) : SEK 10 million for authors in the form of scholarships
Both large and small actors in the area of culture will be able to receive support. Organisational form will not impact the ability to receive support. State institutions are not included, but their situation is being monitored closely. The money will be distributed by grant-allocating agencies in the area of culture. Details on this and other economic measures in response to Covid-19 in Sweden can be found here.
Please note that the requests for subsidies to these different crisis funds are being made at the moment, the results are therefore not known.In addition, the Ministry of Culture announced Friday 8 May a new fund of 319 million SEK dedicated this time to cultural institutions receiving a national final.
The Arts Council England has announced a Financial support for artists, creative practitioners and freelancers. They will be making £20 million (22.4 million euros) available to individuals working in the cultural sector, including artists, creative practitioners and freelancers. Artists and creative practitioners will be able to apply for grants of up to £2,500 if they have a track record in publicly funded culture.
BFI and The Film and TV Charity have set up a new Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund with £1m donation from Netflix to provide emergency short-term relief to the many thousands of active workers and freelancers who have been directly affected by the closure of productions across the UK. More here
The BBC Arts Culture In Quarantine fund, supported by Arts Council England, will commission established artists of any discipline based in England to produce a series of new works in creative media - video, audio and interactive. These commissions do not need to be about the current emergency, but they do need to adhere imaginatively to the principles and limitations of self-isolation. More info here
Some theatres are commissioning online work See also response statement by British Council
What are others doing?
- On the Move has created a continuously updated overview of resources for the arts and cultural sectors with a focus on mobility.
- KEA has created a collaborative map to track policy measures taken in response to corona
- Cultural Policies compendium: Here the health and safety measure for some countries are listed (Czech Republic,Estonia, France, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain).
- An overview over governmental crisis funding schemes in the following countries: USA, UK,Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, Chile (24 March 2020) can be viewed here.
- UNESCO is monitoring the impact of the pandemics on the culture sector in the weekly issue "Culture & COVID-19: Impact and Response Tracker". The reports can be consulted here.
- The Fundación SGAE, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, has agreed to add 7 million euros to the over 8 million that it usually allocates for financial and social aid to authors and publishers who need it. Find more here.
- The Sundance Institute has set up a $1 million Coronavirus-Relief Fund for independent artists and organisations.
Other emergency funds
- Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation: The Portuguese foundation Gulbenkian launches 5 million euros Emergency Fundwhich aims to contribute towards strengthening the resilience of society across the statutory fields of intervention of the Foundation: health, science, civil society, education, and culture. Detailed information on the different mechanisms will be announced shortly.
- “Follow your art” supports artists and art professionals hit by the Covid-19 measures. The initiative consists of an open call for artists and the opportunity to donate into this fund. Per cycle the initiative plans to support 50 artists and artprofessionals from three countries with 500 euros each. The first cycle targets Belgium, Italy and Tunisia and is open now. Find out more here.