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Emergency funding made available for artists and designers

Workshops and studios for textile design, object design, jewellery design and graphic design are eligible for emergency funding (Keystone)

People who work in the cultural sector in Switzerland can now apply for funds to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Swiss government last month adopted a package of measures totalling CHF280 million ($287 million). On Monday the Federal Office of Culture explainedexternal link how the money is to be divided up: CHF100 million for non-profit enterprises and CHF25 million for cultural workers are earmarked as emergency aid; CHF145 million is available as compensation for losses; and CHF10 million is available for non-professional cultural associations such as music or theatre organisations.

Non-profit cultural businesses can apply for interest-free loans which may not exceed 30% of the income of the business as per the last revised annual financial statement. Public subsidies are deducted.

In its ordinanceexternal link of March 20, the government defined “cultural sector” as the performing arts, design, film, visual art, literature, music and museums.

Cultural workers, defined as self-employed Swiss residents whose main job is in the cultural sector, can also apply for emergency aid of a maximum of CHF196 a day, up to an annual income of CHF40,000 (single person) or CHF60,000 (married couple). For each additional family member to be supported, an additional CHF10,000 can be added to the income limit. Higher income values rule out emergency aid.

The basis for assessing the entitlement is the latest assessment of direct federal tax and proof of economic hardship. Compensation for loss of income is offset against emergency aid.

In addition, financial assistance is available to cultural companies and professionals who have been forced to cancel or postpone events and projects or to close businesses. The compensation for cancellation covers a maximum of 80% of the financial loss incurred. Any loss of profit is not compensated.

Cultural associations in the amateur sector are also supported, with compensation amounting to a maximum of CHF10,000 per cultural association, depending on the number of active members represented.

Limited for two months

The contact partners for interested parties are the cantons, the Swissculture Socialeexternal link association, which looks after the social security of cultural professionals, and the amateur cultural associations.

However, the Federal Office of Culture says the cantons will not be able to make the first payments until they have signed the corresponding agreement with the federal government.

People and businesses not covered by the government’s emergency package include publishers, manufacturers and sellers of musical instruments, video shops, dance clubs and nightclubs. Architectural firms, photo laboratories, libraries and art dealers cannot claim financial assistance either. On the other hand, workshops and studios for textile design, object design, jewellery design and graphic design are eligible.

The Ordinance on Emergency Aid for Culture enters into force retroactively as of March 21 and is limited to two months. The government said an extension was being considered.

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