Information for cultural professionals

The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic are having a major impact on people working in the cultural sector and on cultural businesses. Some people are facing a threat to their livelihood. Because cultural life is – almost – at a standstill. Overall economic measures that have already been passed, such as those concerning short-time working, are not adequate when it comes to resolving the difficulties currently experienced by cultural professionals and cultural institutions, because they are often subject to special employment and solvency conditions.

On 20 March 2020, the Federal Council therefore passed the ordinance on mitigating the economic consequences of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the cultural sector (in German). You can find explanations about the ordinance here (in German).

On 31 March 2020, the Government decided that the Canton of Basel-Stadt would be taking part in the implementation of the measures. Read the press release from the Government here.

Q&A for Basel cultural professionals and cultural businesses

We’re looking at current questions about support for culture and measures to mitigate the effects of coronavirus:

What support can cultural businesses apply for if they are having payment difficulties or have large uncovered losses?

Cultural businesses can take up all of the support measures that are available to other businesses ‒ obviously provided that they satisfy the relevant conditions: They can submit an application for short-time working and, if the business has an enterprise identification number (AG and GmbH), try to get bridging loans with state guarantee. Furthermore, they can also contact the tax authorities and IWB to apply for deferment of payment. Plus, businesses that take on apprentices can apply for temporary support if they are experiencing financial difficulties that are putting the apprenticeships under threat. You can find detailed information about the regulations for businesses here.

In addition to the measures that apply to all businesses, cultural businesses have two additional options available to them:

  • Non-profit making enterprises that do not have an enterprise identification number cannot apply to the banks for bridging loans with state guarantee. The Federal Government can offer them repayable, interest-free loans to guarantee solvency. Cultural businesses with their headquarters in Basel-Stadt are expected be able to submit applications for this support to the Division of Cultural Affairs of the Canton of Basel-Stadt from the middle of April. A consultation is mandatory before the submission of an application to the Division of Cultural Affairs. Please read the information sheet and send an e-mail with your request for a consultation by phone to kultur@bs.ch.
  • Non-profit making cultural organisations and profit-making cultural businesses can apply for loss of income compensation for financial losses sustained from cancellation or postponement of events or projects or from business closures. Any other support contributions that have already been taken up will be taken into account in awarding the compensation. The Division of Cultural Affairs of the Canton of Basel-Stadt will accept applications for this support as of now. Find more information on this topic here.

What support can self-employed and freelance artists apply for if they are losing income as a result of events having been cancelled or business closed because of the coronavirus pandemic?

Cultural professionals who are self-employed or freelance and therefore neither covered by short-time working nor protected by unemployment insurance can, as a first step, apply for compensation for loss of earnings and emergency aid to cover immediate costs of living.

  • Compensation for loss of income for the self-employed
    Self-employed people who are losing income because of official measures to tackle coronavirus can apply to their compensation office for corona compensation for loss of earnings, provided that no other compensation or insurance benefit has already been paid for this period. The compensation office where you pay your OASI contributions is responsible for this. You can find the contact details of the compensation offices and further information about this topic on the website of the Basel-Stadt compensation office.
  • Emergency aid to cover immediate costs of living
    Cultural professionals whose economic existence is threatened because of loss of income caused by state measures to tackle coronavirus can get emergency aid to cover immediate costs of living, provided this has not been guaranteed through compensation for loss of income. This emergency aid is only intended for people whose main occupation is in the cultural sector and whose place of residence is in Switzerland. The body responsible for this is Suisseculture sociale.

As a second stage, cultural professionals can apply for loss of income compensation:

  • Loss of income compensation for cultural professionals
    Cultural professionals should be able to get compensation for financial losses sustained from cancellation or postponement of events or projects or closure of businesses. Any other support contributions that have already been taken up will be taken into account in awarding the compensation. The Division of Cultural Affairs of the Canton of Basel-Stadt will accept applications for this support as of now. Find more information on this topic here.

What support can amateur cultural associations apply for?

Amateur cultural associations in the areas of music and theatre, such as choirs, orchestras or theatre associations, should be able to get financial support to cushion the impact of financial losses associated with cancellation or postponement of events. The national associations in the respective cultural area are responsible for this. Find more information on this topic here.

Will cultural institutions continue to receive public contributions as part of normal promotion of culture, even if they are not able to keep to the agreed conditions because of closures?

Cultural institutions will not have to pay back public contributions if services cannot be provided or if only some services can be provided, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Payments will continue to be made according to the agreed method. The canton can grant cultural institutions and organisations that receive a public contribution different payment arrangements if their solvency is at risk. If you have any questions, please contact kultur@bs.ch.

Will project contributions that have already been awarded as part of normal promotion of culture be paid if a project is cancelled or postponed?

If a project that is being funded by the Division of Cultural Affairs cannot be executed because of official measures, the final account for the project should be submitted. It should list the costs that have already been incurred, as well as any income. The contribution awarded will be paid provided that the final account does not show any revenue surplus.

If a project that is being funded by the Division of Cultural Affairs has to be postponed, the funding commitment remains in place. The Division of Cultural Affairs must be informed of the postponement.

If a project is postponed, cut short or cancelled, a reason for this must also be given. If you have any questions, please contact kultur@bs.ch.

For all questions about cancelled or postponed events that are supported by the Swisslos fund, please contact Swisslos funds directly.

Will applications for public contributions and contributions to cultural projects still be processed?

Yes. Cultural professionals and cultural businesses are particularly severely affected by the shutdown of social and cultural life. Particularly during this difficult time, the Division of Cultural Affairs of the Canton of Basel-Stadt is doing everything it can to regularly process applications for institutions and projects and to pay contributions that have been awarded.  

What should be kept in mind with regard to contracts to be concluded between freelancers and cultural institutions in the near future?

The parties can expressly regulate the case where an event is cancelled or banned because of the coronavirus pandemic in the contract and thereby deviate from the law (Art. 119 OR [Swiss law of obligations]) by concluding their own regulations for this event. In particular, they can agree on the rights and obligations of each party to the contract in the event of a cancellation or ban, in such a way that they are adapted to the specific situation of the parties to the contract. The insertion of an appropriate clause into all contracts to be concluded in the near future is recommended to ensure certainty of the law. The law (Art. 119 OR) provides that, if an event is officially banned, freelance cultural professionals bear the full fee risk or payment risk. However, a more socially acceptable solution would be for both parties to share this risk.

Which current regulations apply to events?

The following regulations apply to events in the Canton of Basel-Stadt: https://www.coronavirus.bs.ch/en/umgang-mit-anlaessen.html
 
Further requests and suggestions from cultural institutions and cultural professionals relating to the coronavirus pandemic should be sent to
kultur@bs.ch.

Further important information for cultural professionals

Umbrella organisation of organisations for cultural professionals Swissculture and Swissculture sociale.

The Verein Musikschaffende Schweiz demands payment of unpaid fees for musicians.

The Verein Theaterschaffende Schweiz demands payment of unpaid fees for theatre professionals.

Danse Suisse, Swiss professional association of dancers, demands payment of unpaid fees for dancers.

The Swiss association of authors provides information on its website.  

The professional association of visual artists provides information on its website.

Swissfoundations has put together important information for foundations providing funding.