In light of the widespread cancellation of events due to the coronavirus crisis and the precarious situation that this may create, especially for independent professional artists and entertainment workers, the Luxembourg government has implemented various measures to support the cultural sector.
More specifically, on Tuesday, the Cabinet adopted an amendment to a law on social measures for the benefit of independent professional artists and entertainment workers. This bill introduced a social aid scheme for professionals in this sector in the event of an exceptional event, such as acts of terrorism or epidemics.
This plan particularly provides social assistance for independent professional artists, with the possibility of paying monthly social assistance up to the minimum social wage for qualified persons provided that the difficulties in performing artistic services are linked to this exceptional event, as well as additional daily allowances (up to 20 per month) in the event of involuntary inactivity compared to the 121 daily allowances provided for in "normal" time, provided that the exceptional event prevented the entertainment worker from offering his/her services as provided by law.
Such additional social assistance will be granted on the condition that the applicant demonstrates that the lack of artistic activity is directly related to the exceptional event, for example the cancellation of an exhibition or cinematographic productions.
The government is also discussing plans to immunise the period of involuntary inactivity by reducing, for independent professional artists, the income conditions required to be able to benefit from the aid schemes in proportion to the duration of the persistence of the exceptional event (i.e. €714 per month during which the situation continues), as well as a reduction in the days of activity required for entertainment workers. This is also in proportion to the duration of the persistence of the exceptional event (i.e. seven days per month during which the situation continues).
With regard to the subsidies granted for cancelled projects, Luxembourg's Ministry of Culture has confirmed that it will maintain its commitment provided that those made to the artists are also met for the most part. Regarding new requests, the ministry will focus either on projects that can be carried out despite the constraints resulting from the current health situation or on requests from entities or artists finding themselves in difficulty financial following the cancellation of a planned project. This will apply for the duration of the crisis. The procedures to follow regarding these requests will soon be available on the Ministry of Culture's website.
The Ministry of Culture has also recalled that employees in the cultural sector are eligible for partial unemployment in the event of force majeure. This scheme may apply for employees who do not have a certificate of incapacity for work, those whose company can no longer offer them full-time or any work, those whose supplier can no longer deliver raw materials for reasons related to coronavirus or in the event of a significant decline in customer demand due to the coronavirus, or if the company can no longer operate at a normal speed or one or more departments has completely shut down due to staff shortages related to external decisions related to coronavirus. If agreed, the Employment Fund (Fonds pour l'emploi) can then cover 80% of the normal salary (capped at 250% of the minimum social wage for an unskilled employee) for a maximum of 1,022 hours per employee. To submit the request for partial unemployment for force majeure linked to coronavirus, the Ministry of the Economy has created a specific form for companies.
Finally, the Ministry of Culture has drawn the attention of all businesses in the cultural sector to the bill adopted by the Cabinet on 11 March 2020 and to the amendments adopted in Tuesday's Cabinet which introduced an aid scheme aimed at supplementing existing aid instruments to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as people who are self-employed (including those in the events or cultural sector) who find themselves in temporary financial difficulty following an exceptional and unpredictable event of national or international scope. The granting of such aid will be subject to three conditions, namely that an event has been recognised as having a harmful impact on the economic activity of certain enterprises during a given period, that the company is experiencing temporary financial difficulties, and that there is a causal link between these difficulties and the event in question.
A pandemic like that of coronavirus falls under the definition of an exceptional event. Once this law is in force, impacted SMEs will therefore be able to benefit from such assistance. The costs eligible under the new aid scheme are limited to the loss of income observed. This aid takes the form of a repayable loan.
For more information on coronavirus for companies, see the FAQ on https://meco.gouvernement.lu/fr/dossiers/2020/coronoavirus-entreprises.html.