The status of free-lance artists is regulated by the Law on the Rights of Self-employed Artists. According to the Law, these artists are entitled to health, pension and disability insurance, which are supposed to be paid by the municipalities. The city of Belgrade and a few other cities regularly pay these allowances, but since the Law is still a recommendation instead of a legal obligation, not every municipality acts on it.
Freelance artists are usually organised in different professional arts associations, which keep a register of their status. In spite of the Law, free-lance are facing different problems in different municipalities, especially regarding the irregular covering of their health insurance (usually municipalities pay indemnity to the Social security of Serbia with delay which prevents artist to get free health care services). This constantly provokes protests and revolt from art associations.
This situation was planned to be changed, following the implementation of the new Law on Culture. The Ministry is planning to put the sub-laws into the parliamentary procedure, with one of the sub-laws redefining relations with self-employed artists, but the Parliament had higher priorities, concerning the requirements of the EU integration processes (more in chapter 4.2). However, until 2018, this situation hasn’t changed and the status of freelance artists depends upon local authorities, the association they belong to (most of artistic associations have regulated their status but association of translators of academic literature and folklore artist have not) or the art field they are in.
The register of freelance artists is administered by different professional artist unions. During the reign of Slobodan Milošević (1989-2000), many artists left the “official” artist unions and created new, parallel ones. Therefore there were three writers’ unions, two publishers’ unions, etc., which is creating a problem regarding the registering of freelance artists. Through the open call in 2011, the Ministry of Culture has chosen 31 unions and associations to represent the different fields of arts and culture, which was a good step towards a more systemic approach to the rebuilding of the sociocultural cycles in every sector of culture. This could mean more clear roles and responsibilities for the unions and associations, as well as better and stronger relations with the Ministry of Culture, but also a systematic monitoring of their work.