How 8 Countries Have Tried to Keep Artists Afloat During Panemic


In December, US theater and music venue owners and operators breathed a sigh of relief when Congress passed the latest coronavirus aid package, which eventually allocated $ 15 billion to desperate cultural institutions. However, it did so more than six months after a number of other countries took steps to cushion the strain on the arts and artists from the pandemic. Here are the highlights and failures of the efforts of eight countries.

French President Emmanuel Macron was one of the first world leaders to advocate for the freelance artist. The country has long had a special unemployment scheme for performing artists that recognizes the seasonality of such work and helps offset the pay of freelancers on fallow land. In May, Mr. Macron removed a minimum working time for those who had previously qualified for the assistance. He also took out state insurance for television and film recordings to counter the threat of closure caused by the pandemic. Other countries, including the UK, were quick to copy the move.

German cultural life has always been heavily subsidized, which kept many art institutions from the effects of the pandemic. In June, however, the government announced a $ 1.2 billion fund to get cultural life back on its feet, including funding for projects like helping venues upgrade their ventilation systems. And further support is on the way. The German Ministry of Finance intends to set up two new funds: one to pay a bonus to organizers of smaller cultural events (which are intended for up to a few hundred people) so that they are profitable even with social distancing, and one to insure larger events ( for several thousand participants) to reduce the risk of cancellation. Germany is not the first country to implement such measures. Austria introduced event insurance in January.

In July, the UK government announced a $ 2.1 billion culture bailout – money that saved thousands of theaters, comedy clubs and music venues from closing. In December, several major institutions, including the National Theater and the Royal Shakespeare Company, also received long-term loans under the package. Even with this help, there have already been around 4,000 layoffs in British museums alone and more in other sectors.

The European cultural aid did not come into force without controversy. In November, Poland announced recipients of a $ 100 million fund to compensate dance, music and theater companies for lost income due to restrictions during the pandemic. But the plan was immediately attacked by some news outlets to give money to “the famous and rich”, including pop stars and their management. The complaints prompted the Minister of Culture to announce an urgent review of all payments, but the government ultimately defended them and made only minor changes.


Jan 13, 2021, 6:48 ET

As with many actions related to the pandemic, New Zealand was moving quickly. In May, the government announced that it would spend around $ 268 million on art assistance over four years – a sizeable amount for a country of five million people. The government’s cultural recovery plan has had a perhaps surprising focus on musicians, with a $ 3.5 million fund to help bands tour nationwide in response to the loss of opportunities to play overseas, and so far have 51 artists received money from it. Thanks to the country’s influence on cases, bands have been able to perform without social distancing measures since June.

Although the aid measures for the coronavirus in South Africa have so far been among the largest in Africa, they have also been followed by allegations of corruption and mismanagement. Still, the government has given art workers, including freelancers, small payments on top of existing unemployment benefits. A plan for actors and musicians that began last summer called for a one-time payment of about $ 449. And in November, the country launched a similar initiative offering up to $ 1,000 for people who make crafts and work behind the scenes at theaters and movie sets.

South Korea never saw a full lockdown in the spring as other measures were put in place to quickly control the spread of the virus. As a result, cultural life quickly returned to a semblance of normalcy (a production of The Phantom of the Opera in Seoul was closed for just three weeks). However, the South Korean government still supported the cultural institutions with around 280 million US dollars.

The second stimulus

Answers to your questions about the stimulus calculation

Updated December 30, 2020

The economic aid package will issue payments of $ 600 and distribute federal unemployment benefits of $ 300 for a minimum of 10 weeks. Find out more about the measure and what’s in it for you. For more information on how to get help, please visit our hub.

    • Do I get another incentive payment? Individual adults with adjusted gross income on their 2019 tax return of up to $ 75,000 per year will receive a payment of $ 600, and a couple (or someone whose spouse died in 2020) who earns up to $ 150,000 per year receives twice this amount. There is also a payment of $ 600 for each child for families who meet these income requirements. Individuals filing taxes with head of household status and earning up to $ 112,500 will also receive $ 600 plus the additional amount for children. People with incomes just above this level will receive a partial payment that decreases by $ 5 for every $ 100 of income.
    • When could my payment arrive? The finance department said on December 29 that it had started making direct deposits and would be mailing checks the next day. However, it will take a while for everyone to receive their money.
    • Does the agreement concern unemployment insurance? Legislators agreed to extend the length of time people can receive unemployment benefits and restart an additional federal benefit that is on top of the usual state benefits. But instead of $ 600 a week it would be $ 300. That will last until March 14th.
    • I am behind on my rent or expect to be soon. Do I get relief? The deal calls for $ 25 billion to be distributed by state and local governments to help backward tenants. In order to receive support, households must meet various conditions: the household income (for 2020) must not exceed 80 percent of the area median income; At least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or residential instability. and individuals must be eligible for unemployment benefits or face direct or indirect financial difficulties due to the pandemic. The agreement states that priority will be given to support for lower-income families who have been unemployed for three months or more.

A piece of it has been used to aid cinemas and the release of Korean films. Over the past year, the government made half-price movie tickets available several times to encourage audiences to return to the cinemas, which resulted in a five-fold increase in attendance. But with a recent jump in Covid-19 cases and official stays at home, cinemas are in trouble again and have asked for financial help.

New types of aid have created new bureaucratic headaches in some countries. In June, the Brazilian government passed the Aldir Blanc law – named after a songwriter who died of Covid-19 – which provided about $ 560 million to support cultural institutions and workers. The money was due to be paid out from September onwards, but many cities did not have the necessary offices and did not know how to distribute money to those in need. Authorities estimate that only about 40 percent of the money had been spent by December.

Lis Moriconi and Su-Hyun Lee contributed to the coverage.