The Norwegian cultural sector takes measures due to the Covid-19 crisis
Arts Council Norway will not be demanding repayment of funds from cancelled events, and artist and cultural players will receive support from Covid-19 compensation schemes.
Compensation scheme for cultural events
On behalf of the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, Arts Council Norway is managing a compensation scheme for the arts and cultural sector. The scheme is directed towards cultural organizers who had to cancel or postpone events due to restrictions and bans imposed by the healthcare authorities or the Government as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The first application deadline was 21 April, and 271 applicants have received compensation. The second application deadline is on 15 September, and also includes subcontractors in the cultural sector. Organizations and businesses can seek compensation for losses and additional expenses due to postponement or cancellation of cultural events that were to be held between 1 May to 31 August 2020.
Both compensation schemes do not include cultural institutions that receive 60 per cent or more of their income as subsidies from the Norwegian Government. On 29 May 2020, the Government allocated additional funds of NOK 200 million to museums and performing arts institutions in this category.
Government Grants for Artists
29 May 2020, the Norwegian Government allocated an additional NOK 100 million to grants for artists. The Committee for Government Grants, one of the independent committees within the Arts Council Norway, will distribute NOK 70 million. The Norwegian Performing Artists' Fund (FFUK) will distribute the remaining NOK 30 million. The purpose of the grant is to enable artists to maintain activity through an extraordinary situation.
Other grant schemes
Arts Council Norway has established a grant scheme for art and culture projects in Norway – allocating NOK 30 million from the Norwegian Cultural Fund to address the current situation related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The deadline for applications was 5 May 2020. The programme received almost 1,400 applications worth a total of NOK 260 million.
Other types of grant application evaluation and the payment of grants will continue as usual within the structures of the Arts Council.
Arts Council Norway will not be demanding repayment of funds from the events and projects cancelled as a result of the pandemic. Grant recipients are encouraged to consider alternative ways of conducting their activities, if possible. Other arts and culture organizations in Norway such as Kulturtanken (Arts for Young Audiences Norway), Music Norway and NORLA have also chosen not to demand repayments of allocated funds. Regional authorities have made similar guarantees.
Research and knowledge
A recent report by Menon Economics, conducted on behalf of the Arts Council Norway, shows that the cultural sector may have lost more than one-third of its income in March and April 2020. During the first six weeks of restrictions, the sector lost approximately NOK 1,5 billion. The findings indicate significant differences between art forms. The music sector is impacted the most, with as much as 50 per cent drop in revenue since 12 March through April. Other industries follow with a revenue loss of 42 per cent in the performing arts; 35 per cent for visual arts; 25 per cent for museums and cultural heritage; and 23 per cent for the book industry.
Arts Council Norway has also conducted a zero-point analysis of the cultural sector in partnership with Menon Economics and BI: CCI. By analysing the economic activity of the cultural industries in 2018, the report will be used as a baseline to assess the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on the cultural sector and creative industries.
Arts Council Norway has established an emergency group that collects input and facts from the artists' organizations and the rest of the sector to find adequate crisis measures. This information is forwarded to the Ministry of Culture, for continuous evaluation of the situation.
Government restrictions and general provisions
As of 15 June 2020, The Government allows cultural events of up to 200 people. Events with more than 200 participants are banned until 1 September 2020.
The Norwegian Parliament has adopted a scheme where freelancers and the self-employed will receive temporary income protection. It is equivalent to 80 per cent of their average income over the last year, up to a specific limit. The compensation occurs from day 17 after the loss of income. The Ministry of Finance has requested the Norwegian Parliament to allow for self-employed and freelancers to receive social, financial assistance in anticipation of income compensation.
The international cooperation programmes where Arts Council Norway is the Norwegian National Contact Point, are also affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, some deadlines have been extended.
The Covid-19 crisis has forced cultural institutions and arenas across Europe to close their doors and cancel all events for the foreseeable future, leaving people without work and income. The crisis has consequences for the entire cultural value chain, and the total effect for the European cultural life is still unclear.
The independent arts field is a vulnerable sub-sector during the Covid-19 crisis. In Europe, as well as in Norway, a high number of freelancers, volunteer organizations, associations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), often without a steady income, characterizes this field. In several of the countries with which Arts Council Norway cooperates, there are few grant schemes available for this sub-sector.
Arts Council Norway continues cooperation with its international partners, working to find ways to facilitate collaboration between arts and cultural players across borders despite the current crisis.