The Compendium in times of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic forced cultural institutions and venues around the world to close their doors, leaving hundreds and thousands of cultural events cancelled and even more people without work and income. Although the total effect on the cultural sector remains unclear, the Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends monitors current developments regarding COVID-19 and the cultural field.

We mobilised our expert authors to gather country specific information on the implications for the sector and the current measures being taken. The responses received are presented below in this extra section of culturalpolicies.net, which will be updated frequently.

We are also collecting and curating online cultural initiatives related to the current COVID-19 crisis. This separate and sector specific list can be found here and will be expanded on a regular basis too.

Flag Croatia

CROATIA

Jaka Primorac

Last update:
March 30th

On Tuesday March 17th, the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted measures to assist the cultural sector in order to minimise the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Taking into account the ban on public gatherings, cancellation of cultural events and the closure of cultural institutions, it was noted that the cultural and creative sectors were among the first to experience the effects of the pandemic. By establishing a special crisis fund, the Ministry of Culture plans to provide support for the cultural sector, including independent artists, self-employed and other natural and legal persons who are left without an income due to restrictions on the public gatherings and closing of theatres, cinemas, museums, concert halls. The crisis fund will cover the activities that fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture, the Croatian Audiovisual Center and the Foundation ‘Kultura Nova’. Read more

It is planned that the fund will provide resources to natural and legal persons in the cultural field in order to support cultural projects that were already approved and whose execution has been delayed due to the pandemic. Following the announcement of this measure on March 24th, the Ministry of Culture issued a decision on the conditions of this funding in special circumstances. One of the measures announced was the suspension of the revision of the status of freelance artists for a period of six months. This measure was enacted on March 20th with March 17th as the starting date.

Another measure announced is connected to the Agency for Electronic Media that manages the fund for the Promotion of Pluralism and Diversity of Electronic Media 2020. The agency has announced they will redirect a part of the fund towards public monitoring of the coronavirus epidemic. In addition, they will allow for flexibility with regard to the planned programmes of the media service providers.

Another measure is entitled Support for the preservation of jobs in activities affected by the Coronavirus (COVID – 19). This measure is also intended for entrepreneurs from the cultural sector and for persons who, within the cultural and creative sectors, carry out an activity independently and pay the contributions of compulsory insurance (pension and health insurance), such as independent artists, journalists, etc., which, due to circumstances such as the cancellation of cultural events, events, performances, concerts, exhibitions, festivals, etc., have remained without regular sources of income. Employers who can prove the impact of special COVID-19 circumstances on their activities will be eligible for assistance of EUR 433 per full-time worker and EUR 216 per part-time worker. This measure is managed by the Croatian Employment Service and the total fund for all the sectors is EUR 666 million.

In addition, on March 19th the Croatian Parliament adopted the Act amending the law on the Protection and Preservation of Cultural Property, which includes suspending monument rent as an additional measure to help the economy.

Appeals of the independent cultural sector

The independent cultural sector has been very vocal about the need for assistance ever since the first restrictions on the public gatherings, travel, and organisation of events was made on March 12th. On March 14th, a public appeal for support of the independent cultural sector was issued by independent theatre producers, authors and performers, as well as the Association of Concert Promoters – Promo. It was immediately signed by over 4000 cultural workers and organisations. Following the announcement of the measures by the government, the critique towards the Ministry of Culture that followed stressed that the suggested measures are not adequate, and are not implemented fast enough. 

On March 19th, an additional appeal was issued by the Platform on the Working Conditions in Culture (NGOs: BLOK, OOUR, Skribonauti, Žitnjak Ateliers, CDU) and the Initiative ‘Dosta je rezova!’. The Platform stressed the drastic impact that the COVID-19 has made on the working conditions and livelihoods of cultural workers and suggested concrete measures to help the sector.

Zagreb earthquake during COVID-19 pandemic

On Sunday March 22nd, Zagreb was hit by the strongest earthquake in the last 140 years, measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale. Many people lost their homes and there is serious damage to a number of buildings and the general infrastructure, most notably in the city centres’ Old Town. 

As a large number of cultural institutions, cultural organisations and companies are located in Zagreb, and especially in Zagrebs’ city centre, the earthquake has taken a toll on the cultural infrastructure. A large number of cultural objects, offices of cultural organisations and ateliers are severely damaged, others have been completely destroyed. The assessment of the damage is still being made and the Ministry of Culture announced that it will work together with the City of Zagreb, conservation departments and other relevant bodies in order to develop appropriate models for renovation. 

On March 24th, the Croatian government opened a donation fund to help those affected by the Zagreb earthquake.

Online culture resources

Taking into account the (movement) restrictions connected to COVID-19, the closing of cultural institutions and organisations and the appeal to citizens to stay at home (#ostanidoma), many cultural institutions and organisations as well as independent artists have offered their cultural content online (films, recordings of theatre shows, concerts etc). The links to most of the online cultural content is available at the website of the Ministry of Culture.

Flag Czech-republic

CZECH REPUBLIC

Pavla Petrová

Last update:
March 19th

In the Czech Republic, from March 10th onwards all cultural events with more than 100 people were forbidden, which was brought back to 30 people from March 13th onwards. Since March 16th, everything is closed for the public and all citizens have a restriction on free movement.

The Arts and Theatre Institute collected data related to the impact of these measures between March 12th and March 16th from representatives of umbrella organisations, professional associations and individuals.

Based on their research, the Arts and Theatre Institute established the basic needs for cross-disciplinary measures, which can be divided into four categories. Read more

1) The classic, existing selective grant systems operated by the state or by cities (e.g. the possibility to apply the costs of services rendered or cancelled in the statement of contributions already allocated); 2) Indirect instruments (e.g. the postponement or reduction of all salary deductions); 3) Compensation or other financial support in connection with cancelled activities (e.g the creation of a relief fund within culture – or alternatively in collaboration with the public and private sectors); and 4) Other (e.g. the creation of a clear web interface (and forums) for arts and culture workers, where information on the extraordinary measures and their impact on the arts scene will be continuously updated).

For a complete summary of the results, please click here.

Flag Estonia

ESTONIA

Marko Lõhmus

Last update:
April 2nd

On Friday March 13th, the Government of Estonia declared an emergency situation, which includes the following measures: all public gatherings are prohibited; museums and cinemas will be closed to visitors until May 1st; all performances, concerts and conferences are prohibited; and libraries will remain open to a limited extent.

Since March 16th, all schools (primary, basic, secondary, vocational, hobby, higher education) are required to suspend regular classroom studies and switch over to remote working and home studying. All sport competitions are prohibited until May 1st.

The Estonian Government approved a package of measures, which includes some measures that directly influence the cultural sector. The state compensates the direct costs of events (culture and sports) cancelled due to the coronavirus in March-April, up to EUR 3 million. Read more

 The Estonian Music Council distributed a questionnaire to concert organisers and musicians/choirs/orchestras/ensembles, to chart lost revenue from concerts, including royalties, and expenses incurred. On Friday March 20th, a special commission started working on different scenarios as a result of this data: 1) for the crisis lasting until May, 2) for the crisis lasting until the end of the Summer and 3) for the longer term.

The Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund will cover the wage reduction within the labour market under the following conditions: 1) the benefit can be used by a compliant employer to cover the period of two months, from March to May 2020; 2) the benefit of no more than EUR 1000 per month per employee in need of support is paid in gross amount; 3) the benefit is calculated based on the gross wage of the employee in the previous 12 months, plus remuneration for the employee by the employer which should be a minimum of EUR 150 in gross amount. The Unemployment Insurance Fund and the employer will pay all labour taxes on wages and benefits.

For the period March-May, the state will compensate the first three days (that were not already compensated) of sick leave for all incapacity leave applications.

Self-employed persons are subject to an advance social tax support measure: they do not need to pay social tax for the first quarter.

At its meeting on March 31, the Council of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia decided to establish special measures to support the fields of culture and sports.

Special scholarship
In order to maintain the activities of creative persons in difficulties caused by a COVID-19 virus outbreak, the Council of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia established a measure allowing sub-endowments and county expert groups to maintain their activities. The limit of the special scholarship in expert groups is up to EUR 500 and in sub-endowments up to EUR 2000.
All legal and natural persons can submit proposals for the special scholarship to creative persons affected by an emergency situation. The period for applications is from April 6th up to April 30th.
On the basis of the received proposals, the sub-endowments and expert groups make decisions on initiating special scholarships depending on the financial possibilities of the endowment or the county expert group.

Medical subsidy

The Council of the Cultural Endowment established a fund for people who have excelled in the field of culture, for medication assistance. Underlying this idea, is the assumption that in the current crisis (especially) older people with chronic illnesses may need expensive treatment immediately. In these cases, the Cultural Endowment can help pay a part of expenses for necessary medications, which are not covered by state health insurance. Natural persons or legal entities can apply for this fund on behalf of a natural person.

Flag Finland

FINLAND

Anna Kanerva

Last update:
April 2nd

The Ministry of Education and Culture has granted Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike) EUR 500,000 in extraordinary funding to assist arts and culture professionals hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Taike has also set aside around EUR 100,000 for alleviating the coronavirus crisis. The Finnish Cultural Foundation will  grant EUR 500,000 to Taike and other large Finnish foundations, namely the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, the Saastamoinen Foundation, the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland and the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation are each providing EUR 100,000 in emergency aid via Taike. This brings the total aid from the government and the foundations up to EUR 1.5 million. Foundations will also grant aid through their own channels.Read more

For allocating the grant, Taike will open an application round at the beginning of April, and grant decisions will be made at the end of the month. The aid is primarily intended to take the form of short-term grants for freelance artists whose work has been significantly hampered by the coronavirus epidemic. Taike is expecting to provide at least 500 grants with the funding. 

According to the Ministry of Education and Culture, the closing of museums or the cancellation of performances of theatres and orchestras due to the coronavirus outbreak and the resulting possible cutbacks in activities or personnel does not affect the amount of state subsidies to cultural institutions for the year 2020 or result in recovery of payments.   

For activities supported by discretionary government grants the Ministry of Education and Culture is flexible in ensuring that the necessary costs of supported activities or projects brought by the coronavirus outbreak can be covered with the grant. It is also possible to apply for an extension on the grant depending on its terms and conditions.

Business Finland is offering business development funding services for SMEs and mid-cap companies operating in Finland whose business is impacted negatively by the coronavirus epidemic. Funding services are aimed at for example creative industries and performing arts, tourism and all industries whose subcontracting chains have been or will be impacted by the coronavirus. Companies can use the funding to carry out new development measures aimed at preventing and correcting market and supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus. The amount of funding channelled to businesses through Business Finland is in total EUR 700 million. 

The Finnish government has proposed temporary changes to unemployment security due to coronavirus outbreak. According to the proposal, entrepreneurs and freelancers, regardless of their form of enterprise, and also entrepreneurs working part-time, would be eligible for unemployment security. 

The Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes network has announced an open call for art projects. The Institutes are seeking artistic proposals related to themes such as the state of emergency, radical change, resilience, artistic practice in the future, alone together. The project will act as a documentation of the Covid 19 -crisis and gives the artists an opportunity to reflect it through the arts. The application is open to all Finnish and Finland-based professional artists who have lost work opportunities due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Institutes are commissioning projects from selected artists or artistic groups to be completed by June 30, 2020. The total grant of an individual project is between EUR 1.500–5.000 .

Flag France

FRANCE

Thomas Perrin

Last update:
March 27th

The French state and the Ministry of Culture announced a first series of specific actions to support the cultural sector:

Exceptional measures allowing cultural workers, in particular intermittent workers, to keep their rights until the end of the containment period.
An emergency support fund of EUR 23.5 million for the cultural sector.
Support measures for third places in the social environment by the French agency for territorial cohesion, in particular related to taxes.
– The set up of an information and assistance point for cultural professionals.Read more

The regions are working in conjunction with the Ministry’s regional offices (DRAC) 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.

Prodiss, the national union for performing arts and entertainment, estimates the loss of revenue at EUR 590 million for the private performing arts sector and that around 37.8000 people are affected by a slowdown of business.

Some organisations that collect and distribute author rights (SPRD), Sacem, Adami and Spedidam, have announced they will maintain their financial aid despite a drop in copyright collections.

The Facebook group “Solidarité spectacle vivant – Covid-19” allows cultural stakeholders to follow developments, share information and foster solidarity and mutual aid.

Flag Ireland

IRELAND

Paraic Mc Quaid

Last update:
March 23rd

Currently in Ireland, there is a survey being conducted by the National Campaign for the Arts (NCFA, a voluntary independent organisation) on the impacts of COVID-19 on the arts. As soon as this survey has been completed and analysed, an update will follow.

Until then, it can be concluded the pandemic has hit the arts and culture sectors very hard. The Irish Government issued a limited emergency fiscal response last week, with a fund for the sectors they expected the pandemic to impact most. But the arts and culture sectors were not directly mentioned. Tourism, hotels, restaurants, bars and sports were included. There will be a second announcement soon on a further set of funds to be made available. Read more

Many artists and workers within the sector work two to three jobs to make ends meet. A lot of arts workers would also work in service industry jobs and would therefore be impacted twice. Many teach in a part time hourly paid capacity to sustain their practices. This work is not clearly protected in the measures introduced by the Government.

The arts institutions in Ireland are dominated by publicly funded spaces that may be able to survive the impact. However, music industry venues in particular had already been under stress from pressure to sell to developers. This recent added pressure of loss of income may mean the loss of even more small to medium sized music performance spaces.

Festivals and events have had to be cancelled. Some festival and events  organisations may be able to hibernate and return. But they could do with rent freezes on leaseholds for office spaces, storage spaces, etc.

St. Patrick’s Festival organisation had to cancel the annual festival events at short notice. This means that contracts were already paid out. However, this is funded through grant in aid from the state.

Flag Malta

MALTA

Adrian Debattista
Neville Borg

Last update:
March 30th

On March 22nd, in response to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Government of Malta banned all public gatherings and closed all non-essential services and stores (including those related to the creative sector). This effectively meant that all cultural sites, including museums, theatres, libraries, and exhibition spaces were closed until further notice and all performances were cancelled. A number of cultural sites, including sites managed by public cultural organisations and privately owned cinemas, had already elected to close their doors on March 13. All educational institutions, including those offering cultural education, were also shut down as of March 13th. Meanwhile, a good number of major cultural events were voluntarily cancelled or postponed as early as March 11th. All traditional summer festivities have also been cancelled.
Read more

 The Government of Malta is attempting to mitigate the economic impact of these restrictions by implementing a programme called Covid Wage Supplement, which provides a basic wage supplement to people active in sectors deemed to have suffered drastically. The Covid Wage Supplement programme is being managed by Malta Enterprise, Malta’s economic development agency.

On March 24th, 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 be entitled 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; and radio broadcasting. The Malta Producers Association publicly expressed its misgivings over the fact that the film and television industry has not been included amongst the worst-hit sectors by the restrictions. Following this feedback and further discussions, amendments were made on the 29th of March, to include the film and television industry in the list of drastically impacted sectors, a move which the Malta Producers Association welcomed. Other new sectors included in this amended list were cultural education and photography.

Malta’s creative sector is adopting its own measures to adapt to the situation. Arts Council Malta issued a call for feedback from its beneficiaries on March 20th, to assess how they were impacted, and has relaxed obligations related to its funding agreements with artists while fast-tracking payments in light of the situation. It has also assured its beneficiaries that project losses due to COVID-19 restrictions will be made up for. Public cultural organisations were directed to support the sector by easing up on financial obligations and providing more flexibility in terms of logistics.

Meanwhile, both public and private organisations are shifting their programming to online channels, for instance ŻfinMalta, Malta’s national contemporary dance company has launched a 9-week online programme of events under the title Dance is Us. Teatru Malta, the national theatre company, launched three initiatives to address the situation. This includes a call for artists to send proposals to be included in its programme, with those approved getting 50% of the fees in advance. Other initiatives include a platform that will enable theatre projects to be viewed online as well as an invitation for artists to send short videos with their performances, with the ones selected being offered a fee and uploaded on social media. Furthermore, there are a number of grassroots activities and initiatives that are taking place online through livestream, including performing arts festivals and literary readings.

In mid-March, a number of independent surveys investigating the impact of COVID-19 on the creative sector have been launched. One of these surveys, aimed towards measuring the impact on artists, carried out by Culture Venture, an independent creative enterprise based in Malta, received a total of 346 responses and brought forth a series of recommendations, including the establishment of financial assistance for artists, calling for public and private institutions to fast track pending payments as well as commission new work while providing advance payments for research and development which may be carried out at home. 

Another survey, being carried out by ARC Research & Consultancy, launched a survey to measure the impacts of COVID-19 on artists, cultural operators and service providers working in and/or with the creative sector. This survey had 184 responses and was not considered to be conclusive, but rather a starting point of discussion and further research on how the creative sector can operate on a long-term basis given the changes brought about by the pandemic. Responses indicated that there is a need for immediate actions due to the increase in the use of online means, better representation and cohesion of the sector as well as a long-term strategic approach that goes beyond the current needs.The findings and recommendations from these surveys are currently informing the immediate actions being taken by Arts Council Malta in order to support the sector.

Flag Netherlands

THE NETHERLANDS

Boekman Foundation

Last update:
March 31st

The Boekman Foundation (the Dutch institute for arts, culture and related policy) monitors the developments regarding the Dutch cultural sector and COVID-19 daily. A selection of important developments:

March 31st
– All museums, theatres, concert halls and cinemas will stay closed until April 28th, instead of April 6th. The same applies to schools, restaurants and cafes. People are urged to stay at home as much as possible.
– A taskforce for the cultural and creative sector (initiated by the Dutch advocacy association for the arts and cultural heritage) has sent a pressing letter to the Cabinet, stating that the general support package of the Dutch government and the additional measures of the Minister of Culture will not be enough to safeguard the sector. Read more

– Left-wing parties from the Dutch opposition and artists published a manifesto in which they call for an emergency fund for the cultural sector.

March 30th
– A task force of the Professional Association of Film and Television Makers (NBF) keeps track of developments regarding the corona virus and provides an overview with relevant information and links for freelancers, employers and salaried personnel.
– The Dutch Audiovisual Producers Alliance (NAPA) also keeps a file on the consequences for the audiovisual industry, specifically for the practice of producers.
– In an interview, Minister of Culture, Education and Science Van Engelshoven discusses the Cabinet’s measures for the cultural sector. She also responds to the call for a support fund. “I realise we are not there yet. I am looking into whether we can also make a fund for the cultural institutions that are in danger of falling between the cracks.”

March 27th
– In a letter published today, Minister Van Engelshoven informs the Dutch Cabinet about short-term COVID-19 measures for the cultural and creative sector. Herein she references generic measures taken by the Dutch government such as a contribution in the form of a donation of EUR 4.000 for entrepreneurs in sectors directly affected by government measures to combat the virus. The allowance is tax-free. Culture specific measures that are mentioned are rent suspensions for cultural institutes whose building is in possession of the Dutch government. Subsidies are prolonged and deadlines for expenditure justification for projects from 2019 are extended by 2 months.

March 26th
A first inventory indicated that cultural associations, such as music associations and choirs, are expected to suffer from damages of at least EUR 12 million. 

March 25th
– In a pressing letter to the Minister of Culture, more than a thousand actors and directors request financial support for theatre producers because of the consequences of COVID-19.

March 24th
– The culture funds have agreed to be lenient when assessing applications. Less strict rules will result in faster payments, even if the event in question has been cancelled. 

March 23rd
– All (cultural) events and meetings are prohibited until June 1st (instead of April 6th), even if there are less than a hundred people.
– The Netherlands Film Fund announces their first support measures, mostly aimed at removing the acute pressure on the film sector. Costs already made can be partly offset by early advances on subsidies. In addition, the Film Fund has reserved budget to cover additional costs that have been made due to the virus outbreak. The Fund also published their assessment of the effects of COVID-19 on the sector. 

March 20th/19th
– Multiple cultural organisations launched surveys to assess the impact in the cultural field. There are various possibilities for the sector to report on the economic consequences of COVID-19, which is essential for determining the necessary state support.

March 17th
– The government has decided to take special economic measures related to COVID-19. As long as necessary, the package provides billions of euros in monthly support. The measures ensure that companies can continue to pay their staff, they bridge the gap for self-employed workers and allow money to remain in companies through relaxed tax regimes, compensation and additional credit facilities. The government is also consulting with the cultural sector on how these generic measures can be applied or possibly altered if necessary.
– Kunsten 92′ (the Dutch advocacy association for the arts and cultural heritage) has sent a letter to the Minister of Culture, presenting an initial analysis and proposing an approach to a support package for the cultural and creative sectors. The letter was drawn up in consultation with and on behalf of a large number of organisations. Besides needing support, creatives also want to use their knowledge and innovative skills to solve the societal problems that arise from the coronacrisis.
– The Minister of Culture stated that she will ensure that the cultural sector can get through this time of crisis. She estimates that the loss for the Dutch cultural sector is between EUR 60 and 100 million per week.

March 15th
– The government took additional measures in its strategy to fight the coronavirus. Schools and childcare centres will close their doors until Monday April 6th. The same applies to bars, cafés, restaurants, sports clubs and gyms.

March 12th
– Gatherings of more than 100 people are to be cancelled throughout the Netherlands. This includes the closure of public places such as museums, concert venues, theatres, sports clubs and the cancellation of sports matches and other events. Universities and institutions of higher professional education are requested to offer online lectures instead of large-scale lectures. Primary schools, secondary schools, secondary vocational schools and childcare centres will remain open.

– A motion has been passed for developing a support package for the cultural sector in order to bear the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The Minister of Culture is consulting with the Minister of Finance on how to implement this motion.

Flag North Macedonia

NORTH MACEDONIA

Zlatko Teodosievski

Last update:
March 30th

The situation in the cultural sector of North Macedonia resembles the rest of Europe, with regard to a complete lockdown. Since February 28th, following the governments recommendation, all major public cultural events were canceled until March 6th. However, with the increase of the local transmission of the COVID-19, this measure was prolonged until March 13 (including sport events etc.) and on March 10th all schools and universities were also closed. On March 13th, the measures were taken one step further and all cultural institutions (cinemas, museums etc.) were completely closed to visitors. Finally, an emergency situation was declared in the whole country. It means not only a shut down of institutions, but also reducing staff members. Read more

Following the development of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government is introducing necessary measures on daily basis, specifically economic and security measures, but culture was never mentioned in this context. To make matters worse, the web site of the Ministry of Culture does not even mention the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on its field. It gives the impression that the situation in culture is completely “normal” and that there is no need for any special measures. Although there were a few lonely voices in favour of some “first aid” or necessary course of action by the Government in the cultural sector, nothing has happened so far. Not even an effort to make approximate assessments of possible damages. 

However, the so called independent cultural sector (or at least part of it), together with the Syndicate of Cultural Workers have filed an Initiative to the Prime minister, Deputy prime minister, Minister of Culture and the Mayor of Skopje for special measures to help the independent cultural sector in the time of COVID-19 crisis. The Initiative suggests 3 basic measures: 1) A six month special fund for monthly subventions for the independent sector; 2) Urgent overdue payment of the grants for 2019; and 3) Urgent payment of at least 70% of the grants for 2020. Following the Initiative, a meeting with the Minister of Culture was held on March 24th. The Minister has agreed to urgently pay the debt for 2019 and to fasten all the arrangements for 2020 grants, but as for the first measure, the Law on Culture does not allow monthly payments to the independent cultural sector. He suggested this issue should be discussed with the Government. However, I think that the Minister in times like this (having in mind especially the proclaimed emergency situation) has the power to suggest such a measure and even to propose necessary changes of the Law on Culture.

 

Flag Norway

NORWAY

Bård Kleppe

Last update:
March 23rd

COVID-19 measures in Norway

–  Campaigns from artist union to prevent public authorities from withdrawing payment for cancelled concerts.
–  A campaign on social media (#norefund) encouraging people who bought tickets for cultural events not to ask for a refund.
– 
Arts Council Norway declared that they will not demand refund for projects that are cancelled.
– 
Facebook platforms for digital culture dissemination are created.
– 
Several concerts, readings etc. are held on Facebook, including crowdfunding.
– 
General economic measures such as tax reductions are adopted by parliament. Read more

–  The House of Literature in Oslo and the Norwegian Writer’s Centre create a solidarity fund for vulnerable freelancers and others in the literature industry.
– 
The Minister of Culture launches a scheme (EUR 30 million) to support cultural life.
–  Public libraries provide increased digital access to literature.
– 
Museums publish guided tours online.
– 
Telemark Research Institute launches the research project “Digital adaptation in the times of virus. When cultural life goes viral”.

Flag Poland

POLAND

Anna Karpsinka
Dorota Ilczuk

Last update:
April 1st

On March 12th, an epidemic emergency state was introduced in Poland, which resulted in the closure of cinemas, theatres, cancellation of all shows and banning gatherings of over 50 people. On March 20th, the state intensified restrictions by prohibiting to move in groups of more than 2 people (except families), and restricting gatherings to no more than 5 people.

Artists found themselves in a crisis situation. Therefore, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage launched a social assistance package from the Culture Promotion Fund. Artists who have documentation certifying the inability to perform work, e.g. due to the closing of the theater, may apply. Read more

Due to the closure of cultural institutions, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage has prepared two new grant programmes:

  1. Artistic creativity on the Internet – subsidies for the development of digital forms of artistic creativity;
  2. An additional programme compensating losses in culture caused by the epidemic (launched after loosening the rigors of the epidemic status);

There were also changes in the Cinematography Act allowing film premieres on VOD platforms and on the Internet. Changes were also made in the Act on Audiovisual Incentives extending the deadlines and simplifying the procedures for submitting applications for financial support of audiovisual productions.

Solutions for non-governmental organisations were also introduced, making the implementation and settlement of projects more flexible.

For micro-companies (including artists running their own businesses), a package of solutions was prepared under the so-called ‘anti-crisis shield’, including exemption from social security charges. Parking benefits were prepared for contracts workers as well as for self-employed persons. This benefit is paid to those whose earnings have decreased due to the epidemic. It amounts to PLN 2.000 (about EUR 438).

Flag Portugal

PORTUGAL

Cristina Farinha

Last update:
March 24th

Under the title “We are not stopped. We are ON”, the Portugese Government has been slowly but timely announcing some exceptional support measures for the cultural sector.

The Minister of Culture, Graça Fonseca, said that the Government will create an emergency support line of EUR one million, to help artists and organisations in a situation of greater vulnerability and without any financial support. The line will be financed through the Cultural Development Fund and aims to support artistic creation in the performing arts, visual arts and interdisciplinary approaches of all entities who do not receive any financial support and are therefore in a situation of greater vulnerability. Read more

  “We know that, at this moment, projects cannot be realised. The goal is to be able, by the end of 2020, to carry out the projects that will now be supported in this line,” declared Graça Fonseca. This funding line will only start operating after procedures have been defined with representatives of the sector. Eligible artistic structures that were left out of the last competitions for financial support from the Directorate-General for the Arts (DGArtes) may also use this line of emergency.

As for DGArtes’ grantees, there is the guarantee of maintaining the total budget of EUR three million, already included in the state budget for 2020. There was also an appeal to city authorities in order to implement strategies that favour, whenever possible, the postponement and rescheduling of the shows that were cancelled.

The Ministry also launched a sector specific platform gathering all news and information: https://www.culturacovid19.gov.pt.

Despite some good news coming from the central government, the actual procedures and timings for implementation of these measures are yet to be known. On the civil society level, artists and cultural organisations have been launching surveys to enquire the state of affairs of the sector regarding financial, social and working conditions.

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Emergency Fund Covid-19

On March 23rd, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation approved an emergency fund with an initial amount of EUR 5 million, which aims to contribute towards strengthening the resilience of society across the main areas of intervention of the foundation: health, science, civil society, education and culture.

Regarding the cultural and artistic sector, the fund entails: emergency support to artists or artistic production entities that have seen their projects cancelled or in areas to which the foundation commonly grants support in the form of the partial replacement of lost earnings and contributing towards meeting living costs; maintaining and rendering more flexibility to support either already granted or in the process of approval, including their redefinition and rescheduling, so as to guarantee the endurance of the production structures most affected.

Flag Romania

ROMANIA

Carmen Croitoru

Andreea Codreanu

Last update:
April 6th

The crisis generated by the Covid-19 pandemic forced some restrictive measures, primarily of physical / social distance, aimed at reducing the spread of the virus. The measures taken to protect the health and safety of citizens in this context have affected the whole society, destabilizing the economy, the functioning of institutions and the private sector. Thus, in the cultural field the following consequences were manifested:

1. Suspension of all activities with the public

2. Cancelling or postponing events with the public

3. The independent cultural sector remains without its main financial resources

The authorities have taken a number of measures to counteract these negative effects:Read more

18.3.2020 – OUG 30 / 18.03.2020 is issued, which provides allowances for independent artists and individuals:

• Art. 15, paragraph 1: providing a compensation equal to the gross minimum wage per economy for authorized natural persons and individual enterprises.

• Art. 10: the method of granting technical unemployment in the case of SRLs and NGOs that temporarily suspend the employment contract. Thus, the employees benefit from a state subsidized allowance of 75% of the salary, but not more than 75% of the average gross salary in the economy.

18.3.2020 – OUG 29 / 18.03.2020 is issued which includes economic and fiscal-financial measures with an impact on the cultural sector:

• Art. 1: Implementation of a multi-annual program to support SMEs in order to reduce the effects of the spread of COVID-19, by guaranteeing credits and subsidizing the interest for this financing.

• Article 10, paragraph 1: Small and medium-sized companies, as defined by Law no. 346/2004, who have totally or partially interrupted their activity based on the decisions issued by public authorities, during the period of emergency, having been granted a certificate for emergency situations issued by the Ministry of Economy, benefit from deferred payment of utilities, electricity , natural gas, water, telephone and internet services, as well as the deferred payment of the rent for the building destined for registered offices and secondary offices.

23.3.2020 – Following a petition signed by almost 13.000 people from the independent cultural sector and, following a report submitted to the Government, OUG 32 / 26.3.2020 was issued. It stipulates that natural persons who obtain income exclusively from copyright and related rights, according to the regulations in effect, will receive a compensation equal to 75% of the average gross national wage guaranteed from the general budget consolidated by the County Agencies for Payments and Social Inspection or the Agency for Payments and Social Inspection of the Municipality of Bucharest. It specifies that people must not obtain income from other activities and must declare on their own responsibility that they are unable to carry out their activity based on the decisions issued by the competent public authorities according to the law.

25.03.2020The National Institute for Cultural Research and Training announces the establishment of the Register of the Independent Cultural Sector, useful in all the steps regarding the mobility and support of this sector, determining the regulatory needs and ensuring its presence in the future national strategy in the field of culture.

25.3.2020The Administration of the National Cultural Fund announces that it keeps open the call for the second financing session of 2020, precisely to support the cultural operators in the context of the aggravation of the crisis caused by Covid-19. Moreover, some of the public cultural institutions (National Dance Centre, National Heritage Institute, Clujean Cultural Centre, National Museum Complex ASTRA Sibiu, Studio M Theatre in Sfantu Gheorghe) announce that they will not attend this funding session in order to  show its solidarity with the independent cultural operators, whose resources have been drastically diminished.

27.3.2020The Ministry of Culture has launched the ACCES Online 2020 financing project, dedicated exclusively to the private sector, as a financial support tool for cultural projects, which have the capacity to be disseminated exclusively in the online environment. The project was designed in particular to help artists who, during this period, can no longer perform their artistic activities with the public. For this reason, the Ministry of Culture decided that this year, the annual funding session through the ACCES Program should be dedicated to cultural operators in the independent sector. The projects submitted under the ACCES Online2020 program must be in the fields of theatre, music, dance, visual arts and intangible heritage. The amount allocated to finance the selection session is Lei 1.000.000. The maximum amount that can be requested for a cultural project / action is Lei 5.000. To be eligible, the cultural offers submitted under the ACCES Online Program must run between May 30th and August 31st, 2020. The deadline for submitting the participation file is April 30th, 2020.

Also, solidarity initiatives appear with the mission to support the cultural sector, but also to involve the cultural sector in supporting the efforts of hospitals in the current context. The Radio Romania Cultural station announces the priority broadcasting of Romanian music to support the artists affected by the state of emergency. Cluj is launching the platform A single Cluj that brings together institutions and individuals from various fields, including culture, to mobilize resources to hospitals and authorities. Moreover, the Clujean Cultural Centre together with the Health Observatory launches the Artists Together platform with the mission to engage artists in an effort to inform and raise public awareness in Romania on the importance of observing the rules and recommendations communicated by the authorities during the generated state of emergency during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as to help inform the population about relevant factual data in the context of the current state.

In addition to these responses from the authorities, society in general and the cultural sector in particular, institutions are taking steps to continue their activity and stay in touch with the remote public. Mostly this involves moving cultural activity to digital platforms for spectators, both for a fee and for free, and launching campaigns to connect with the public in the digital environment. Of these, we mention the following generic examples:

  • Independent and public entertainment institutions broadcast live recordings or broadcasts of shows and rehearsals.
  • Musical institutions broadcast concert recordings
  • Museums provide virtual tours of exhibitions and digitized heritage objects to the public
  • Publishers offer books in digital format (ebooks)
  • Libraries offer books and digital archives open to users

Essentially, cultural activity moves from offline to online, and thus, the digital environment acquires an important role not only in promoting, but also in carrying out the cultural act.

At the same time, cultural consumption adapts to this context, being constructed in the public discourse as an element of psychological comfort, but also as an act of solidarity with the cultural field and the people affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

The evolution of these events is being monitored on the following platform: https://culturadatainteractiv.ro/monitoring-cultural-in-timpul-crizei-covid19/context/

Flag Spain

SPAIN

Anna Villarroya
Victoria Ateca-Amestoy

Last update:
April 1st

April 1st

Spain continues to be under a state of alarm, which is extended for 15 additional days and reinforced with more strict limitations of any economic activity that is not classified as essential.

On March 31st, the Council of Ministers approved some additional measures for economic and social protection and to further enable the application of previous measures related to the cultural sector. Two main characteristics are taken into account: seasonality and discontinuity of the cultural activity and the income revenue of cultural workers. Read more

According to these two characteristics, the measures related to Temporary Regulation of Employment Plans (ERTE) that apply to firms that temporarily reduce the intensity of the work hours due to a “major force”, and to special subsidies for autonomous/self-employed workers in order to compensate them for the sudden stop of activity are expected to better meet the urgent needs of the cultural sector. Given the discontinuous nature of the contracts for cultural self-employed workers, the period for which they will be compensated can be extended.

Further, there will be some measures to postpone: the payment of mortgages for economic activity; the Social Security contributions; the payment of electricity and other basic supplies. A special unemployment subsidy for temporary workers will be made available too.

March 25th

The aim of the Spanish Government is that SMEs in the CCIs and sports sectors, as well as individual professionals would be eligible for the government approved guarantees.

Highlights from the press release of the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sporton March 25th:

– The Ministers Council has agreed upon the characteristics of the first release of the approved guarantee programme for firms and individual professionals, for an amount of up to EUR 20.000 million;
– With that guarantee programme, the government wants to facilitate economic liquidity to the firms of the cultural and sport sector in Spain;
This programme is to cover the financial needs associated to, among others, wages, invoices, liquidity requirements, including those derived from financial and tax duties.
The Ministry of Culture and Sports is constantly connected with the sector. 

The measures to protect the sector are embedded in the general regulation and action aimed at mitigating the economic and social impact of COVID-19. The Council of Ministers have approved the first release of the approved guarantees programme, by up to EUR 20.000 million as the Royal Decree Law 8/2020 with urgent extraordinary measures. The whole guarantee programme amounts to EUR 100.000 million. From the 20.000 million assigned to the first release, 50% will be used to back SMEs and professional individuals. This is to be managed by the Institute of Official Credit / Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO).

The fact that 50% of the funding will be granted to SMEs and professionals is particularly relevant for the cultural sector, as only 0.7% of the firms operating in the sector have more than 50 workers. The cultural sector is mostly composed of individual creators and professionals, microfirms and small enterprises.

The Ministry of Culture and Sports also claims to be working with departments from other ministries, as well as with organisations and the main associations of the sector. The coordination with other ministries is aimed at guaranteeing that the transversal programmes and future measures in labour, economic and tax regulation will be suitable for the cultural and sport sectors.

The conversations with the sector are aimed at adapting the existing subsidies and funding from the Ministry to the new circumstances. For instance, the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music (INAEM), the public body to which national theatres and music auditoria are assigned, is considering the re-programming of all the interrupted activities. The PLATEAprogramme to promote the mobility of performances around Spain is being reformulated in order to guarantee the sustainability of theatre, music, dance and circus companies. The same urgent actions are to be considered in order to accelerate the nominative (meaning non competitive) subsidies to some of the most relevant national cultural institutions (more information on these programmes and institutions can be found in the Spanish cultural policy profile here).

Looking ahead with optimism, the Ministry has also announced that they are designing a new campaign to support that citizens are culturally active again once this dreadful situation is over. Cultural participation is considered an essential activity to preserve fundamental values of a democratic, critic and solidary society.

The Ministry of Culture and Sports is developing the programme #CultureInYourHome / #LaCulturaEnTuCasa. Spain is under State of Alarm, the first of the three exceptional states that are considered in the Spanish Constitution, an atypical situation to guarantee public protection while at the same time severely limiting individual rights. During the State of Alarm, the Ministry of Culture and Sports (together with the National Library, the Spanish Filmotheque and the museums and archives under the Ministry’s rule) is making a big effort to make cultural goods digitally available, thereby granting access to culture online.

On the one hand, the museums are reinforcing their websites and their presence on social networks, making cultural assets and past programmes (previous exhibitions and catalogues) available and preparing new virtual exhibitions for the forthcoming months. The National Archives are also preparing virtual exhibitions and contents. The National Library and the Spanish Filmotheque are reinforcing their online collection.

A selection of regional responses
Catalonia / Catalunya / Cataluña
Up to 20 measures to support the cultural sector (only CAT available)

Barcelona launches 10 extraordinary measures to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 virus on the city’s cultural activity and fabric

Andalusia / Andalucía
Non specific measures for the cultural sector; general regional measures apply

Galicia
Promotion of digital access
A diagnosis of the catastrophic effects for the sector
A recognition of the previous digitisation efforts of cultural institutions
Complaints from contemporary visual artists
Debates about the pertinence of letting cultural contents into the public domain free of charge

Private initiatives
MusicForGloves

Flag United Kingdom

UNITED KINGDOM

Rod Fisher

Last update:
March 30th

Along with the travel and hospitality sectors, the cultural sector is considered especially vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis. Theatre productions, concerts, exhibitions, film presentations, festivals and other events in the UK have been cancelled or postponed as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums, galleries and other venues/events have been forced to close. An analysis by Arts Professional suggests the closure of venues could cost the sector more than £1 million a day in lost revenue. This was based on a sample survey of public and commercial venues in London and the regions.

Both the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) and the Museums Association have expressed their concern about the impact on museums, with AIM pointing out that many independent museums have only limited reserves and the crisis threatens their survival. Read more

The Chancellor of the Exchequer acknowledged that the cultural sector would be one of those seriously affected by the impact of the virus and promised support measures worth £330 billion for businesses, including those in the creative and cultural sector. This will include loans, exemptions from business rates for a period and, significantly, paying companies up to 80% of employee salaries for three months if they do not make staff redundant. It is understood that British Actors Equity petitioned the Chancellor to include performers and managers on standard contracts to be included in the Government’s job retention scheme.

Particular concern has been expressed about the position of freelance workers, who constitute about 40% of the creative and cultural workforce. The Chairperson to the Parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee requested the Culture Secretary indicate what financial assistance would be given to freelance workers in the sector. Subsequently, the Chancellor promised freelance workers in the sector would be entitled, for three months, to 80% of their average monthly earnings over the past three financial years, but with a ceiling of £2,500 a month, The Government expectation is that up to 95% of freelancers in all areas will be covered by this arrangement. However, as so much work is involved, there are concerns that the payment calculations could take several weeks or months before the money feeds into bank accounts. 

On March 25th, Arts Council England launched a £160 million Emergency Relief Package for creative organisations and artists. The package includes £20 million specifically for individual artists and freelancers. The British Film Commission (BFC) has confirmed it is working closely with the British Film Institute (BFI), the UK government and its industry partners to mitigate the impact of the overwhelming ongoing disruption to the sector caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 24, BFI announced a new partnership with the Film and TV Charity to create a new COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund. Established with a £1m donation from Netflix, the new fund will provide emergency short-term relief to active workers and freelancers in the UK who have been directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, the Society of Authors Fund has set up a 330k emergency fund for authors affected by COVID-19. The fund is in conjunction with the Author’s Licensing & Collection Society, English PEN, Amazon UK, the Royal Literary Fund and T.S Eliot Foundation. It is intended for writers, poets, translators, illustrators and journalists.