Credit: Freepik

People Working In Culture May Be Able To Apply For Artist Status

People working in the culture sector may soon be able to apply for official artist status, which will be accompanied by financial state support. Yesterday, the Czech Chamber of Deputies endorsed a government amendment setting out the conditions for this status.

The draft will now be examined by the relevant committee.

According to the explanatory memorandum, support for artists will cost the state around CZK 126 million a year, and should apply to no more than 1,400 people. The allowances will be for creative or study purposes. “In addition, costs may be incurred in connection with a special subsidy programme conditionally announced in the event of, for example, a state of emergency or similar situation,” the explanatory memorandum states.

There has been talk of enshrining the status of artist in law since the coronavirus crisis. The government’s measures to curb the spread of the virus at the time had a significant impact on artistic productions.

Jaroslava Pokorna Jermanova (ANO) criticized the government’s proposal as too general, saying it should focus on selected professions. She mentioned members of ballet companies who quit because of health problems and have to find another livelihood.

Culture Minister Martin Baxa (ODS) pointed out that the introduction of artist status is part of the National Recovery Plan, and the concept was proposed by the Ministry of Culture in the last parliamentary term.

“The legislative measure is included in the National Recovery Plan, so if it is not implemented, at least hundreds of millions of crowns that have already been paid to artists from other parts of the National Recovery Plan will have to be returned,” he said.

“The basic principle of the proposal is that the state should somehow express its interest in artists whose activities do not generate sufficient financial income,” the explanatory memorandum says. The draft envisages the creation of a register by the Ministry of Culture. A person who has been an artist for at least two out of the last three years could apply to register.

In order to receive the allowance, they would not be a student, and at the time of the application they would not be in an employment relationship exceeding half of the hours of a full working week. At the same time, their income from artistic activities over the last two years must be at least half of their total income and must not exceed the average wage. According to the draft, the application would be accompanied by an administrative fee of CZK 1,000. “The Ministry of Culture will not assess the quality of the artistic activity in any way,” Baxa stressed. The amendment also deals with the removal of artist status.

According to the authors, the norm is intended to help mainly people who engage in artistic activities on a freelance basis. “The collected background analyses show that this is the most vulnerable group of artists, who face a number of disadvantages and obstacles in the exercise of their profession,” the bill states.

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