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Covid-19 outbreak: Aid measures in the cultural sector

06/05/2020
Covid-19 outbreak: Aid measures in the cultural sector
Photo: PhotoSmoothies/shutterstock.com

 

To limit the spread of Covid-19, all indoor and outdoor private and public cultural, festive, recreational, leisure and sport activities /events are prohibited until at least 10 May 2020 (included). Sport activities without physical contact and with a maximum of three persons are already allowed from 4 May 2020. Museums might be allowed to re-open from 18 May 2020 under strict conditions. Other events could be possible from 8 June 2020, but “mass-events” such as festivals will not be allowed again before 31 August 2020. Even if there is a lot of uncertainty about the dates on which cultural events will be allowed to happen again, it is certain that this is a huge financial blow for the sector and for those depending on the revenues from cultural events. We set out below the most important aid measures, specifically available for those working in the cultural sector.

 

Flanders

The main measures available in the Flemish Region (i.e. Flanders excluding Brussels) are the “compensation fee” (compensatiepremie) for undertakings that were forced to close and the “disturbance fee” (hinderpremie) for undertakings that are not forced to close but will still suffer a serious drop in turnover. The Flemish Community (Flanders, which includes Dutch-language activities in Brussels) has also taken measures relating to subsidies:

  • Disturbance fee: this is a lump sum compensation for undertakings (both natural and legal persons) that are forced to close. It is available to undertakings who have a physical space where services are provided to the public, and in case of legal persons, if they employ at least one full time employee. Examples include theatres, exhibition spaces, photography studios, adjourning cafes, etc. Undertakings whose physical location is closed but who still operate a web shop can also benefit from the disturbance fee.

The fee equals EUR 4,000 for the period until 5 April 2020, and EUR 160 per day of forced closure after 5 April 2020. More details can be found here. Please note that the application for the disturbance fee should be introduced before 19 May 2020.

  • Compensation fee: this is a lump sum compensation of EUR 3,000 for undertakings (both natural and legal persons) who have an establishment in the Flemish Region, who have not been forced to close but who have suffered a drop of 60% in turnover between 14 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 caused by “substantial limits on its operations” when compared to the same period in 2019. Sectors who can benefit from this fee include catering, photography, performing and creative artists, stage design and building, and light and sound technicians, based on the NACE-codes. More information can be found here. The application should be introduced before 30 June 2020.
  • Beneficiaries of subsidies who have made costs for subsidised activities that are cancelled, will still receive this subsidy. Advance payments of subsidies can also be paid earlier than foreseen, to mitigate liquidity problems.
  • A second round of subsidy grants will be organised, focusing on short-term projects by individual artists and projects by organisations with a maximum duration of one year, starting between 1 September 2020 and 31 December 2020. Grant applications must be submitted before 15 May 2020. More information can be found
  • A cultuurkrediet between EUR 5,000 and EUR 100,000 can be applied for. These are loans with a maximum interest rate of 3% that do not require any security. More information can be found here.
  • An emergency fund for the cultural sector has been announced, but details are not yet known.

 

Brussels

  • Undertakings in certain sectors who have an establishment in the Brussels-Capital-Region, who have less than 50 full-time employees (FTE) and who are forced to close can receive a lump sum fee of EUR 4,000. Applications must be made at the latest by 1 June 2020. The relevant sectors include art galleries, cinemas, cafes, restaurants, leisure and entertainment, based on the NACE-code. Please note that undertakings that already receive more than 50% public funding are excluded. More information can be found here.
  • A fee for undertakings that are not forced to close but who still see a significant drop in turnover has been announced, but the details are not yet known.

Beneficiaries of subsidies who have incurred costs for subsidised activities that are cancelled, will still receive this subsidy if they are ineligible for other aid measures. Subsidised events that are postponed but could still take place in 2020 may still claim payment of the subsidy. More information is to be found here.

 

Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles/Wallonia

  • An emergency fund has been created by the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles. Organisers of cultural events and film producers can apply for a financial indemnity for additional costs relating to the postponement (or for film production, also for their cancellation) related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Both the loss of revenue and additional costs, as well as reductions in operating expenses will be taken into account. The operators will need to prove, amongst other things, their expenses, other aid they have received or applied for, that recourse has been made to temporary unemployment measures, and that all artists and service providers have been paid. It is thus advised to keep track of all costs made and administrative steps taken. More information can be found
  • The Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles guarantees that there will be no impact on subsidies. Undertakings who find themselves unable to comply with the original subsidy conditions because of the direct consequences of the lockdown will be able to keep their subsidies. Requests for derogations or an earlier payment need to be made before 31 December 2020. More information can be found here.
  • Small and micro-undertakings with an establishment in the Walloon Region (excluding Brussels) can in certain sectors also benefit from a lump sum compensation of EUR 5,000. However, this only concerns certain sectors, such as sound and light technicians, clubs and design activities. More information can be found here.
  • Those who are self-employed and established in the Walloon region, and who benefited for the period March-April 2020 from a transitional compensation (overbruggingsrecht/droit passerelle), can benefit from an additional EUR 2,500 from the Walloon region. More information can be found here.

 

Of course, the general measures such as the postponement of deadlines for paying taxes, lower tax advances, and temporary unemployment measures, also apply for the cultural sector. There are also multiple social security measures taken for self-employed people. The federal government has also provided the possibility of providing vouchers for a postponed event instead of a refund. In addition, following Royal Decree No. 15, it is not possible for creditors to have the goods (except for real estate) of their debtors seized, to summon a company in bankruptcy or to request the dissolution of an agreement on the grounds of non-payment until 17 May 2020 (included). Please do also check the website of your city and/or province to know whether it/they have announced or are planning additional aid measures. We would also refer you to our coronavirus updates on this website.

Contact

Vera Van Thuyne

Associate

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