BLOG: Support for artists and cultural and creative industries before and during Covid-19

In 2017, Dorota Ilczuk together with the team of the Centre for Creative Economy Research at the University of SWPS published the “Support for artists and creators. International perspective“. It was the first in a series of reports that the experts of the Polish Conference on Culture used during the preparation of the concept of the Act on the Rights of Professional Artists. The last one was the report from the survey “Estimation of the number of artists, creators and performers in Poland” presenting the size of the artistic environment.

The analysis of the support for artists and creators covered 8 European countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Great Britain and 4 non-European countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada and South Korea. It contained information about forms and mechanisms of support addressed to visual artists, performers, dancers, folk artists and musicians. The ways of supporting artists presented in the expertise can be divided into several categories: systemic support, which includes separate laws and regulations directly or indirectly related to this professional group, awards and scholarships, government programs.

An example of systemic support is the Law on Theatres and Concert Institutions adopted by the Lithuanian government in 2004. It defines the principles of social security for employees of these institutions, while at the same time establishing annual pensions for artists (musicians, choir singers and dancers) who cannot perform their work for a long time. The second Lithuanian solution is the Programme on Social Security for Artists. Under this legal act, artists with irregular or low income and those who are facing professional downtime (including musicians or dancers who have difficulty in performing their work) may receive financial support. In France, according to the legislation, musicians, choir singers, conductors, but also theatre directors and film workers can count on a flat-rate tax deduction (up to a maximum of €7600). The lump-sum rate is 20%.

The analysis of “Support for artists and creators” shows that very often financial support is channelled to the artists in the form of various types of scholarships. The Art and Culture Department of the Austrian Federal Chancellery grants 95 interdisciplinary semi-annual scholarships of 6600 Euros to young artists every year. Of these 95, 35 are awarded in the categories of music, performing arts and dance. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland runs the Travel Awards. This is a kind of award given to individual artists and small music groups, up to four people, to travel to develop their skills and knowledge. 

The coronavirus pandemic has forced European countries to introduce new solutions supporting not only artists and creators but also cultural and creative industries. Some countries have introduced special solutions, addressed to specific professional groups. In Austria, aid funds of one million euros have been created for musical artists associated with collective management organisations. The same amount was allocated to support music labels.  The Estonian authorities decided to allocate €25 million to support culture. These funds can be divided in two categories: support to individuals active in the cultural field who have lost their income due to the situation, as well as support to cultural institutions by compensating the costs incurred when cancelling cultural events.  The Supplementary Act to the State Budget 2020 of 15 April this year provides €4 million for the music sector in connection with the cancellation of festivals and concerts.  

On the same day, the French artist collective management organisation ADAMI announced a €11.7 million aid plan for artists. ADAMI guarantees the continuity of its services and provides financial support to artistic projects, legal advice and royalties. The aid package guarantees support to those organisations that had to suspend or cancel activities supported by ADAMI. At the same time, a requirement (and a solution worth noting) to obtain financial reimbursement is the payment of compensation to the committed artists resulting from the loss of their jobs. Furthermore, the organisation contributes €500,000 to a crisis fund managed by the National Music Centre.

Action to tackle the pandemic can also be based on individual donations. This is the scheme of action adopted by the German Orchestra Association, which has established an emergency support fund for independent musicians and has called for donations for this purpose. Out of this money a fund has been created, from which independent musicians can apply for one-off support of €500. An emergency assistance programme has also been created by the Association of Related Rights, which pays out €250 to musicians who meet the requirements of €250 in case of loss of related rights fees. A very large support package of €40 million invested in two umbrella funds, is offered to its members by GEMA, a collective management organisation for composers, lyricists, authors of musical works and music publishers.   

With time, (hopefully) there will be more funds, programs and initiatives supporting Cultural and Creative Industries, as well as their representatives – artists, creators and performers. A repository of information on this topic is creativesunite.eu, which we encourage interested parties to visit. The place that monitors current developments regarding COVID-19 and the cultural field remains Compendium of Cultural Policies & Trends.

Written by Emilia Cholewicka & Anna Karpińska (SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities)

© Photo: Adam Podlesny

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