COVID-19 in the cultural sector


An ongoing update on the situation in the cultural field during the pandemic


On Friday March, 13th, the Belgian government announced a number of drastic measures to curb the further spread of the Coronavirus. An important part of social life was shut down. In addition to retirement homes, schools, universities, shops and cafes, the cultural houses were also asked to close their doors: museums, concert halls, clubs, cinemas, cultural centres, fairs and festivals … But also rehearsals, film recordings and residencies were cancelled and production processes were shut down.


That same evening, State of the Arts, the platform for independent artists and artists, launched a hotline for the hundreds of freelancers who had to stop their activities from one moment to the next.


The sheer amount of reactions that came in clearly show the extremely fragile income structure of not only artists, but also other freelancers in the cultural sector such as technicians, dramaturgs, administrators, graphic designers, photographers, etc. As a reaction, SOTA (State of the Arts) published an open letter proposing a set of concrete measures to create a differentiated compensation fund for the cultural sector.


Read the open letter by SOTA (State of the Arts). In the meantime, SOTA initiated SOS Relief. This financial support platform is an initiative of State of the Arts to connect people in Belgium with financial stability to people faced with dire precarity. SOTA is an open artist-run platform which Jubilee actively engages in.



Additional information and other initiatives:


Els Silvrants-Barclay from State of the Arts reports back on the meeting between Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès and the delegation of representatives from the cultural sector on Radio 1 (May 25th)


Flemish Minister of Culture Jan Jambon forms new Social Relaunch Committee without representative for the Cultural Sector. Read the full article (Dutch) published by Het Laatste Nieuws on May 17th, 2020


Belgian HR-company for cultural jobs Amplo published ravishing figures of temporary and freelance contracts in April: 79% less than April 2019. De Morgen paints a grim picture after the Belgian National Bank underlined that most people who are not employed won't receive any support in the present system, while those benefiting from temporary unemployment benefits will lose their employments. (May 13th)


Two new coalitions have arisen to defend and negotiate the interests of the heterogenic cultural sector: No Culture No Future (FR) and Artiestencoalitie (NL).

Interview with Pierre Dherte from No Culture No Future on La Première, RTBF radio, broadcasted on May, 13th


An open letter signed by 300 prominent artist from various disciplines addressed to Belgium's prime minister Sophie Wilmès was published in De Standaard (Dutch) and RTBF (French) on May 11th. The letter recapitulates the current situation, explains why the implications of corona-related shutdowns are much more severe in the cultural sector than elsewhere, and demands a series of support mechanisms.


State of the Arts, rekto:verso and Kunstenpunt launch Tuesday Talks a live panel featuring different guest speakers every Tuesday, 20h


An article about the protection of artists during and post COVID-19 (Dutch), published in De Morgen on April 27th, 2020


An overview of the various support programmes in Belgium, Flanders, and Brussels, published on Bruzz.be on 17 April, 2020 (in Dutch)


On the Move (OTM), a cultural mobility information network operating across Europe and internationally, has created a regularly updated overview of all the international measures, initiatives and COVID-19-related information


An article by Jesse Van Winden about the lack of support for the cultural and creative field in The Netherlands, published in rekto:verso on April 17th, 2020


An article by Wouter Hillaert (Dutch) published in rekto:verso on April 15th, 2020, gathers no less than twenty testimonies to the government's insufficient support measures for people in the cultural field, twenty people slipping through the cracks


April 10th update: SOTA has created an overview of its own concrete actions and the measures implemented by the Flemish Government


April 3rd update: Wouter Hillaert, Michiel Vandevelde and Bart Caron react to Jambon's declaration of intent for the Arts sector in rekto:verso (all articles in Dutch)


An article about the emergency measures announced by the Flemish Government, published in De Standaard on April 1st, 2020

For Brussels-based artists, the complicated political nature of the region makes the corona crisis even more uncertain, published on Bruzz.be on 31 March, 2020


An overview of the measures taken by Smart and the (European) actions regarding the current situation (French/Dutch)


March 30th update: Jan Jambon has published a declaration of intent for the Arts sector (Dutch). SOTA is currently working on their reaction


An open letter about flexible working by Wouter Hillaert en Kobe Matthys (Dutch), published in De Standaard on March 27th, 2020


An analysis of the financial impact of the corona crisis in the cultural sector by Wouter Hillaert in rekto:verso on March 21st, 2020