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Income Loss, Future Work and Receiving Payments Are Major Concerns For Artists In Malta

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Practically all of the respondents in an art sector survey have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, giving some sort of indication of the impact the virus could have on Malta’s culture scene.

Organised by Culture Venture, a local enterprise dedicated to the arts, the survey collected answers from 305 responses, 167 of which earn their income exclusively from the arts. It found that 95.7% of the respondents have been negatively affected.

Respondents say that half the activities that fund their income have been cancelled. This is to little surprise following the ban on mass gatherings and cancellation of events due to COVID-19.

In fact, the survey found that most respondents earned income from public events, such as performances, exhibitions and concerts. There have been 147 postponements and 131 cancellations so far.

Around 72% said they have already suffered financial losses and each artist is predicted to lose between €250 to €500 every week.

Generating income, future work and receiving payments are the three biggest concerns.

“This is not primarily the fault of a pandemic but rather, it is the fault of bad and abusive governance with the larger part of budgets going to delivering content for marketing and admin, as opposed to delivering content for art. Their paycheque doesn’t allow artists to save up for a contingency in case of such a pandemic as COVID-19,” one respondent said. 

Last week, Malta’s government announced measures to address the economic impact of COVID-19 that brought several industries to a halt. While employees within highly affected industries like tourism and arts are set to receive a monthly grant of €800, other employees in other industries are only set to receive €160 a month. 

Malta Enterprise has published two annexes explaining which industries are eligible for which aid packages, based on the NACE classification for economic activities and the creative arts and entertainment services have been listed under the categories eligible for maximum aid.

However, some artists have raised concerns on whether they qualify for this scheme, particularly if they are freelancers.

On a European level, Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative will see 37 billion allocated  to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and the social and economic ramifications felt by EU member states. The Culture and Education Committee Chair, Sabine Verheyen stressed the importance of supporting the arts in this delicate time.

“The cultural and creative sectors across Europe have been ravaged by the impact of stringent public health measures, with concerts cancelled, theatres, museums and cinemas closed, and film and television production halted. The list, sadly, goes on,” she said. 

“Once again, cultural and creative businesses are among those struggling the most and they need financial support now. I call on Member States to ensure that financial support at national level reaches them.”

The local research by Culture Venture was presented during an international virtual conference concerning the impact of COVID-19 crisis on creative sectors to devise emergency funding mechanisms and contingency plans. 

“A global response and local action is needed to mobilise the resources of public institutions, private foundations and cultural professionals to secure immediate and effective responses,” the organisation said. 

Culture Venture proposed its own recommendations to address the crisis, such as

  • The immediate provision of emergency funds for artists, with priority given to those earning an income exclusively from the arts
  • Universal basic income as a funding model
  • That freelance artists are to be included in government measures 
  • The creation of a fund for possible scenarios in the future

Read more of its recommendations as well as the survey results here.

Do you think the government should do more to support Malta’s creative industries?

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