Crisis measures to support the independent arts sector in Bulgaria
Bulgarian independent arts sector (individual artists and organisations from the performing arts, music, visual arts and others who are not state or municipal) organised themselves and elaborated an open letter requesting two main measures of support for the sector:
- a Crisis social fund, aimed to help freelance artists and cultural workers, for the weeks of the Covid19 lockdown, plus three months after the quarantine is lifted. The request is for a legal minimum wage, exempt from taxes and social security payments or compensations according to the individual income from artistic practice in the past two years;
- a Structural fund to cover organisations’ expenses and losses in 2020 and help rebuild practice in 2021.
The independent sector is expected to propose the funds frame, eligibility conditions, application and monitoring procedures. Intensive online debates in the sector are currently going on, aiming to reach a social just and solidary solution and transparent procedures for funding. The government might accept the proposed measures and alter them according to the general situation in the state, or provide alternatives.
The independent sector insists that funding for any measures should not come from arts and culture funds of the Ministry of culture but from dedicated Covid-19 countermeasures European funds.
On 28 March, an online meeting between representatives of the independent sector and the Minister of Culture has been held. The Minister expressed a general support for the measures requested and proposed another meeting on 31 March, together with the Minister of Labour and Social policy as well.
In the meanwhile, an online survey to estimate the losses of the sector has been carried out. According to the intermediate results, encompassing 500 individual artists and organisations, the losses will be 7 mln BGN (3.58 mln Euro) if the lockdown measures last till June 2020. 16 mln (8.2 mln Euro) if the ban lasts till the end of 2020. The survey is open for responses till 29 March.
Currently, Bulgarian government envisages support for employers and employees on permanent working contract and no measures for freelance professionals whatsoever.