Corona subsidy approved for workers in cultural sector

Summary

A new corona crisis benefit is now available for artists and others working in the culture sector who have ‘fallen through the cracks’ until now, while the event sector gets an advisory council

State of the arts

The government of Flanders has announced that a new subsidy will be available to people who work in the cultural and arts sectors who have not qualified for previous corona crisis subsidies. These could be freelance actors or lighting professionals, for instance, who cannot draw unemployment.

“The culture sector is extremely diverse, with many people who are not drawing a salary because they are independent artist or technicians, for example,” said Flemish culture minister Jan Jambon (N-VA). “It’s a group that has fallen through the cracks. We have no worked out a system in which everyone in the sector can receive a subsidy.”

Those who qualify can receive a one-time  payment of €1,500. The subsidy is part of the €65 million stimulus package for the culture sector announced last month.

The artist support network State of the Arts, which launched a fundraising campaign for artists in May, is glad that this benefit has finally arrives. “We fought for it a long time,” said Els Silvrants-Barclay of the organisation. It will not make up all of the financial loss, she emphasises, “because these artist have not been able to work for four or five months.”

It’s the mayor who in many cases will ultimately decide if an event can take place in the city or not

- Minister Bart Somers

In related news, the government is launching an event sector office to assist municipalities in responding to requests to host more people than legally allowed. On 1 August, the corona measures will further relax to allow up to 400 people at indoor venues, such as theatres, and up to 800 at outside events, such as festivals.

Should an event organiser want to increase those numbers, they must request permission from their city. The mayor and city councillors now have the option to discuss it with the new central office, which will streamline the application process.

The office, made up of Flemish government officials, will assess the safety of the situation together with the municipality and virologists. “Local councils will take on a lot of responsibility in the corona crisis exit strategy,” said Flemish interior minister Bart Somers (Open VLD). “It’s the mayor who in many cases will ultimately decide if an event can take place in the city or not. Mayors are the best placed to take such a decision, but are of course open to advice on the matter.”

Photo ©Wim Vandekeybus