Slovenian National Opera and Ballet Theatre, Ljubljana, Source: Janes Zalaznik/Visit Slovenia

Solidarity with Culture Fund helps struggling artists in Slovenia

Solidarity with Culture Fund helps struggling artists in Slovenia

Donations collected by the Red Cross are intended to cover basic living expenses of culture workers hit by pandemic restrictions

With cultural establishments closed or operating at reduced capacity for months on end due to Covid-19 restrictions, culture workers, especially those in the performing arts, are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet. State stimulus payments for the sector vary by country, and are largely incapable of removing the financial distress. So, alternative mechanisms of assistance are needed to supplement state supports, and many such have come into being.  

Up to EUR 700 per recipient

In Slovenia, a fund called Solidarity with Culture was set up in conjunction with the Slovenian Red Cross last March, soon after the outbreak of the pandemic. According to the fund’s website, by 3 February 2021, more than EUR 30,000 in donations have been collected in an account with the Red Cross, and 82 individuals have received payments from the fund.

Cultural workers who are either employed or self-employed and have lost part of their income during the epidemic are eligible for solidarity assistance. From January 2021, a successful applicant can receive up to EUR 700, but in dire straits cases the ceiling of support can be raised further. And 6 months after receiving assistance, a recipient can apply again.

Urška Jurman, one of the project's administrators, told RTV Slovenia that the fund was established on the initiative of art historian Beti Žirovc. To ensure direct, transparent and tax-free support, assistance is offered in the form of payment slips for basic living expenses, such as housing, electricity, heating, kindergarten, health insurance, medicines, medical devices and the like. Support does not include coverage of operating costs or taxes.

Eligibility for assistance is checked and assessed by the Slovenian Red Cross, and the worst-affected cases are given priority. The amount of allocated aid is adjusted to the amount of donations received. The donors are mostly individuals, but there are also some non-governmental organizations and trade unions at public institutions. Some donors are permanent, which means that they transfer a certain amount every month. Donors have also carried out two art campaigns, with proceeds going to the Solidarity with Culture Fund.

Ensuring equal treatment

The Solidarity with Culture Fund is one of the projects of an informal group intended to help self-employed culture workers keep their head above water during the pandemic. By formulating specific proposals to the government and the Ministry of Culture, the group seeks to influence government intervention measures that would ensure equal treatment of all self-employed and precarious workers, especially those in the cultural sector, in the provision of state aid during the epidemic. According to Jurman, some of the group’s proposals have already found a place in government measures aimed to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

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