Monday, April 27, 2020

Global, regional and local initiatives related to the Covid-19 crisis

This is a weekly update by Emmanuel Legrand of global, regional and local initiatives related to the Covid-19 crisis and its impact on the creative sector. 


> Culture ministers agree to an action plan under the aegis of UNESCO 
More than 140 culture ministers have agreed to a series of recommendations to implement in the wake of the coronavirus crisis to support the cultural sector. Gathered by UNESCO on April 22, the ministers have backed a global strategy to help culture and the creative sector survive and recover from the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. 
  These include measures to:
  1) Protect the health and safety of the cultural and creative sector. This has been done through the application of precautionary measures such as the cancellation of events.
  2) Guarantee the welfare of artists through: a) Government emergency funding/ creation and distribution of special creative funds; b) Interest free loans, Tax breaks/relief, cost reduction measures, debt moratorium, extended payment plans; c) Promotion of cultural appreciation and education through classes, seminars, investment in online library and museum etc; d) Provision of online tools to aid artists in creating, producing and sharing their works online; e) Carrying out of Surveys / creation of cultural archives (audio recordings, visual arts, writings etc) to help acquire first-hand knowledge of the need of each cultural sector and provide targeted aids.
  3) Assure the recovery of the cultural sector through: a) Setting aside a budget/financial plan to initiate planned kick-off strategies immediately after the lockdown; b) Monitoring the impact of rolled out measures; c) Constantly designing and creating exit strategies; d) Documenting socio cultural transformations currently taking place. Cultural archives were created to provide an insight into current changes and on what to do in the future (e.g Indonesia); e) Legalise/define the professional status of authors to give them immunity to the future crisis and improve their economic status.
  During the gathering, Ministers of Culture highlighted the vital importance of culture in this period. “We need culture, so we need to help it to sustain this shock. We must assess the impact of the crisis, launch a joint reflection and coordinated initiatives. UNESCO fully intends to play its role in this process, in line with its mandate,” said UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay.

> ICMP calls for urgent action for music publishers
The International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP), the global body representing music publishers, has sent letters to governments around the world, urging them to implement programmes to support a sector which is "behind just about every piece of music you have heard."
  Signed by ICMP Director General John Phelan, the letter describes music publishers as being in their majority small and medium-sized companies, with also thousands of sole traders. These professionals — together with their songwriter and composer partners — "bring more than 62 million musical works, of all genres, to the world."
  The letter — available in German, Spanish, English, French and Italian — continues: "Many industries are weathering commercial hardship and uncertainty now. What differentiates ours is that it has been among the first to be harmed and will be among the last to feel the crisis’ impact. This is because from Boston to Beijing and everywhere in between, across almost all forms of music usage, our companies often receive remuneration long after the use. Concerts, film productions, contracts, tours, sales, broadcasts, licenses are being cancelled now on an unprecedented scale."
  The consequence of this situation, writes Phelan, is that publishers will face "profound commercial harm deep into 2021, even with the swiftest of recoveries," with a first phase survey and analysis of the global commercial data being "deeply alarming."
  The letter then urges governments to agree to a series of undertaking that include:
  1. Eligibility for all music publishing companies, full-time and self-employed individual professional music publishers, to national public sector COVID19 financial relief programmes and future actions. For ICMP, this can include corporate grants, tax credit schemes, rent/rates holidays, interest free loans, etc.
  2. Sustainability. The music sector needs sustained support — in national budgets, public and private investment schemes and sponsorship programs. An increase in public sector financial support "is badly needed to help the future of existing and start-up music companies operating in a marketplace which has gone from difficult to perilous."
  3. Proactivity. Where international or multinational programs are possible (e.g. the ‘Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative’ for the EU27), push for their launch and application to the sector.
  4. Information: The provision of centralised, practical, concise information about such programs on either governmental or COVID19 specific websites.
  Concludes Phelan: "This vast problem hits individuals. Our response must be collective - combining culture and commerce. That citizens worldwide have reflexively turned to music in this crisis speaks volumes about the vital need to sustain the sector’s future. Music will be crucial to recovery as it supports the hospitality, retail, creative, tourism and leisure industries, contributing enormously to the overall economy.
  "I thank you for the resolve demonstrated by your government so far and invite joint cooperation to ensure we all emerge stronger. ICMP and our national association are available at any moment to input expertise, participate in initiatives, follow up with data...whatever is needed."

> Coalition urges governments to support the book industry
On the occasion of World Book Day and Copyright Day 2020, the International Authors Forum (IAF), theInternational Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO), alongside, theInternational Publishers Association (IPA), the International Association of STM Publishers (STM) and the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF), have urged governments all over the world "to recognise, support and celebrate the importance of books, learning solutions, and professional and scholarly content by adopting economic stimulus packages to sustain their respective publishing sectors and the value chains that surround them."
  The organisations said these actions "become specially necessary given the current COVID19 crisis."
  Jean-Luc Treutenaere, Co-President of EIBF; John Degen, Chair of IAF; Yngve Slettholm, President of IFRRO; Hugo Setzer, President of IPA; and Ian Moss, CEO of STM, wrote: "Economies are shutting down and nobody knows for sure when we’ll return to normal, or even if that’s possible. The impact on the world’s creative industries, including the book sector, has been devastating. In many countries, our industry is already struggling for oxygen. We must find ways to ensure the future for authors, publishers, editors, designers, distributors, booksellers and those who work in collective management, so that the book industry can bounce back once this pandemic is conquered."
  They conclude: "A world without new books would be a sad and impoverished place. We are working hard to come through this crisis, but we need help to survive. We need governments to help us get through it together."

> Culture 2030 Goal want culture to be at the heart of the response to the C-19 crisis
Cultural organisations from around the world have stated that "culture should be at the heart of the response" to the Covid-19 pandemic and "the need to rebuild our societies tomorrow."
  In s statement under the banner of Culture 2030 Goal, signatories claimed that "artists, creators and culture professionals, as well as organisations in the culture sector, have a fundamental role in promoting well-being and resilience in individuals and communities, guarantee access to information, encourage awareness, tolerance and build the capacities to imagine the societies of the future, which are already in formation due to the ongoing global upheaval."
  Thinking about the future, signatories outlined that "responses to this pandemic should aim to be inclusive and look at a broader framework of inequality and challenges to sustainable development, including climate change and disaster risk reduction."
  To ensure that these issues get addressed, the signatories called for governments and all other decision-makers, to adopt the following programme:
• Act today to support cultural communities, sectors, actors and agents where they are facing negative impacts from the pandemic, in order to ensure that they can survive the crisis, and are able to play their part in the recovery tomorrow.
• Design and give access to mechanisms that strengthen cultural communities’ capacity and to access and make use of the digital sphere sustainably and in suitable conditions.
• Ensure that appropriate flexibilities in laws, regulations and funding programmes are used in order to facilitate and support the work of cultural actors and the safeguarding of cultural heritage resources where this would otherwise be made impossible by the loss of revenue sources that guaranteed community livelihoods, notably tourism.
• Ensure the long-term integration of culture across government action at all levels, everywhere, both as an end in itself and as an enabling factor in successful sustainable development, leaving no one and no place behind.
• Place welfare, solidarity and sustainability at the centre of short-term and long-term cultural policies, programmes and projects, as well as making international cooperation, including cultural cooperation, central in the building of more resilient communities.
• Reinforce the protection of the cultural rights of all in national and local legislation, in particular through cultural programmes aiming at education, active participation, critical citizenship, gender equality and the empowerment of indigenous peoples.
• Incorporate culture explicitly into the plans, instruments and reporting mechanisms around the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs to be elaborated in the coming months and years, and especially for the High-Level Political Forum foreseen for July 2020.
  In conclusion, the Culture 2030 Goal movement called on the culture constituencies to come together to advocate collectively for the role of culture at the United Nations. Together, we can not only strengthen the messages of this statement, but also highlight the importance of integrating culture into implementation of the overall 2030 Agenda."
  The document was signed by Culture Action EuropeICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and SitesIFCCD - International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural DiversityIFLA - International Federation of Library Associations and InstitutionsIMC - International Music Council,Latin American Network of Arts for Social Transformation, and Agenda 21 for Culture.


Congress adds $484bn to a relief package
US Congress has passed a bill to add $310 billion to theSmall Business Administration’s COVID-19 loan program, including $50bn for loans for economic disaster aid, out of a relief package of $484bn.
  Following the CARES Act a couple of weeks ago, the additional funding was welcomed by artist rights and music companies, in particular the funding for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The action was described in a joint statement by industry organisations as "an important next step to ensure the program has funds to reach all Americans who need it."
  The organisations added: “Musicians, songwriters, and composers have had their ability to work upended by the pandemic. Because they often act as independent contractors and sole proprietors, traditional unemployment benefits fail to provide financial relief. That’s why it remains essential that the PPP make independent contractors and sole proprietors fully eligible for loans and loan forgiveness including accounting for lost wages and insurance costs during the eligibility period."
  They added, “Because time is of the essence in addressing this crisis, there has been understandable confusion about where to get a PPP loan, how to apply, and shifting guidance concerning necessary paperwork. States are also offering conflicting guidance about eligibility for new unemployment benefits provided in the CARES Act. In some states, updated application forms are still not yet widely available, and there are misunderstandings about the duration of eligibility for unemployment and the calculation of benefits."
  The music coalition includes such organisations as the Artist Rights Alliance (ARA), American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), Global Music Rights (GMR), the Music Artists Coalition (MAC), National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), the Recording Academy, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC), the Songwriters of North America (SONA), among others.

> Film industry hardship funds top $1bn
The Motion Picture Association has disclosed that its members and parent companies have contributed to the tune of over one billion dollars to various relief funds to provide direct aid to studio employees, as well as to industry partners and unions "to ensure a strong workforce is ready to return to work as soon as possible." The MPA said studios Netflix and NBCUniversal have established hardship funds of $150 million each, while studio parent companies, including Comcast (Universal Pictures), Sony Corporation (Sony Pictures), ViacomCBS (Paramount), and WarnerMedia (Warner Bros.), have established hundreds of millions of dollars in relief funds.
  To support workers in the film and TV industry, hardship funds have also been set up by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and SciencesActors’ Equity Association,Directors Guild FoundationEntertainment Industry Foundation,International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Cinematographers GuildNational Association of Theatre Owners/Motion Picture Pioneers FoundationPOVProducers Guild of America, and SAG-AFTRA, among others.

> Sony/ATV donates $500,000 to NSAI and SONA
Sony/ATV Music Publishing
 has donated $500,000 to two organisations representing songwriters, the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and Songwriters of North America (SONA). The two organisations will split the sum and use the funds for grant-like disbursement for struggling songwriters.
  The initiative was the result of discussions between Sony/ATV Chairman and CEO Jon Platt  and Bart Herbison and Michelle Lewis, executive directors of NSAI and SONA, respectively, about the need for assistance to working songwriters.
  “NSAI and SONA intend to reach out to other companies within and outside of the music industry, artists and individuals to also make contributions. Many American songwriters can sorely use the help right now,” said the Herbison and Lewis in a joint statement.

> AAP, AG and ABA call for the public to support bookstores
On World Book Day (April 23), Maria Pallante, President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers (AAP); Mary Rasenberger, Executive Director of The Authors Guild (AG); and Allison Hill, CEO of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) have launched a call for the public to support local bookstores. They wrote: "After a decade of recovery and growth that affirmed the importance of reading, writing, and publishing, bookstores are suddenly facing a moment of monumental crisis at the hands of the COVID-19 pandemic. In some instances, these beloved institutions, which mean so much to so many communities, face the very real possibility that they will never open their doors again. We cannot let this happen because we need bookstores now more than ever. We are therefore asking for your help to save these best of places. Please visit your community bookstores online or find them at"

Spotify adds more partners to its COVID-19 Music Relief project

Spotify has reported that it has added eight new partners to its Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief project. This brings a total of 11 groups worldwide who back the music streaming services' initiative, which was started with MusiCares (US), PRS Foundation (UK), and Help Musicians (UK).
  New partners include: Centre National de la Musique (France), Deutsche Orchester-Stiftung (Germany), Initiative Musik (Germany), Irish Music Industry Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund (Ireland), Musikerforbundet (Sweden), Support Act (Australia), União Brasileira de Compositores (Brazil), Unison Benevolent Fund (Canada).
  Spotify will make a donation to each of these organisations and will match donations made via the Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief page dollar-for-dollar up to a total Spotify contribution of $10 million. 

  In addition, Spotify for Artists has launched a new feature, the Artist Fundraising Pick, allowing artists who chose to do so to highlight on their profile a fundraising destination through which they can raise money to support themselves, their bands, or their crews, to get the word out to their fans on their Spotify artist profiles. Initial fundraising partners include Cash AppGoFundMe, and
  Spotify for Artists users that submit their “$cashtag” username as their Artist Fundraising Pick — and secure at least one contribution of any size through Spotify — will receive an extra $100 in their account from Cash App, until a collective total of $1 million has been contributed. This Cash App funding is available to artists in the US and UK, but Spotify listeners can make contributions to the artists they want to support via Cash App anywhere in the world


> EU Member States and the Commission agree to a de-confinement roadmap
The European Commission and the Members of the European Council have outlined a roadmap to get Europe’s "societies and economies back to a normal functioning and to sustainable growth, integrating inter alia the green transition and the digital transformation, and drawing all lessons from the crisis."
  The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the President of the European Council Charles Michel, said the plan responds to the European Council Members’ "call for an exit strategy that is coordinated with Member States and that will prepare the ground for a comprehensive recovery plan and unprecedented investment."
  The roadmap is designed to be a common framework for EU members but the timing and specific modalities will differ between Member States.The recommendations include:
  1. Action will be gradual, as measures will be lifted in different steps and sufficient time should be left between the steps (e.g. one month), as the effect of their lifting can only be measured over time.
  2. General measures should progressively be replaced by targeted ones. This would allow societies to gradually go back to normality, while continuing to protect the EU population from the virus. There will be in particular a "phased approach" for the opening of EU's internal and external borders. External border reopening and access of non-EU residents to the EU should happen in a second stage.
  3. Safeguarding social distancing measures taken by EU Member States and Schengen Associated Countries requires continued review of the need for restricting non-essential travel to the EU.15
  4. The re-start of the economic activity should be phased in, thus ensuring that authorities and businesses can adequately adjust to increasing activities in a safe way.
  5. Gatherings of people should be progressively permitted. The Commission suggested that when reflecting on the most appropriate sequencing, Member States should focus on the specificities of different categories of activity, such as:
  a) Schools and universities (with specific measures such as different lunch times, enhanced cleaning, smaller classrooms, increased reliance on e-learning, etc.);
  b) Commercial activity (retail) with possible gradation (e.g. maximum number of people allowed, etc.);
  c) Social activity measures (restaurants, cafes, etc.), with possible gradation (restricted opening hours, maximum number of people allowed, etc.);
  d) Mass gatherings (e.g. festivals, concerts, etc.).
  The latter suggests that the business of live entertainment at risk since it is likely to be the last one to be re-opening. Pollstar magazine noted that as of now, most European governments have banned large events until Aug. 31, "effectively killing the summer festival season" and September events have started to cancel as well.
  "There is a need to strategically plan the recovery that is mindful of citizens’ needs, in which the economy needs to pick up pace and get back on a path of sustainable growth, integrating the twin green and digital transition and drawing all lessons from the current crisis for the EU’s preparedness and resilience," wrote the Commission.
  It added: "Even though the way back to normality will be very long, it is also clear that the extraordinary confinement measures cannot last indefinitely. There is a need for a continuous assessment on whether they are still proportionate as our knowledge of the virus and the disease evolves."


> Music organisations ask French government for more answers about live events
A coalition of 22 organisations from the music and live entertainment sectors have asked in a letter sent to Minister of Culture Franck Riester to "specify as soon as possible the objective criteria allowing to determine which festivals could possibly take place, under which conditions, and from what date."
  Although French President Emmanuel Macron announced the cancellation of major festivals and "events with a large audience at least until mid-July," Riester said in a radio interview that “small festivals” could be held from May 11, date of the start of France's de-confinement.
  The organisations request from Riester "clarity" and "objective and realistic criteria" to determine under which conditions live events could take place. Signatories of the letter include FedelimaFérarockSMA and Zone Franche.
  In addition, France's Syndicat des musiques actuelles (SMA), which regroups independent music structures, has urged the government to clarify the situation with regards to venues and other locations used by music artists. The organisation claimed that since the start of containment and the various announcements from the Government, the 430 companies that are members of the SMA, "have been plunged into the unknown" as the context "calls into question the very existence of their projects, which in essence are based on openness to the public and the link to populations."
  Lamenting that "our questions unfortunately remain unanswered" the SMA asked: "When can we reopen the doors of concert halls and other venues? For what type(s) of activity? Under what conditions ? When can tours resume? Will festivals take place or, if there is a blank year in 2020, will they have the resources to reappear in 2021? What about the albums released just before the start of containment? What about the resumption of activity in training centers? What about radio broadcasting? Will we simply still exist in a few months?"
  SMA asked for answers and also for relief through "monetary and non-monetary forms."

> SACD launches emergency fund
France's rights society for the film and drama repertoire SACD (Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques), with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, has set up a €500,000 emergency fund dedicated to authors of theater, humor, staging, dramatico-musical work, stage music, choreography, circus and street performing arts. SACD said the fund is "adapted to the reality of their situation and the irregularity of their income."
  To be eligible authors will have to be French residents and justify for a loss of net copyright revenue of 50% in March and April 2020 compared to the monthly average of their revenue for the year 2019. Authors will be able to receive aid of up to €1,500 providing they have been unable to benefit from the Solidarity Fund for Enterprises and Self-Employed, or from a partial unemployment measure (except if it is less than €1,500).
  The aid will not be able to be cumulated with the emergency fund created by the SACD with the support of the CNC for the audiovisual, cinema, animation and web authors.

> Visual artists face cancellation of postponement of events and commissions

The economic situation of visual artists in France has been affected by the cancellation of events or projects that were scheduled to take place during the confinement period, according to a survey from CIPAC, the Federation of Contemporary Art Professionals, which regroups organisations displaying or promoting visual arts in France. Over 50% of visual arts projects have been postponed, while 95% of the exhibitions have been cancelled or postponed. A third of projects cancelled or postponed included remuneration for artists exceeding €2,000. Some 58% of the the budgets of the events cancelled or postponed were under €5,000, 19% between €5-10, and 23% over 10,000 €. 


> IMRO, IMRA and FMC set up a fund
The Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO), theIrish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) and First Music Contact (FMC) have set up a fund to support Irish music creators. The fund has been created to assist Irish music creators who are currently experiencing the most financial need. It is open to songwriters, composers, performers, session musicians and arrangers.
  Successful applicants will receive a once-off emergency relief payment to the value of €750. Applications will be reviewed by a committee of music industry professionals from a wide spectrum of industry sectors and organisations.
  FMC will administer the fund, which has received, in addition to the financial contributions by IMRO and IRMA, a donation from Spotify. The streaming service is also matching donations made to the Irish Music Industry Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund via its Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief page, dollar-for-dollar, up to a total Spotify contribution of $10 million for the collective verified organisations worldwide. The fund can also be supported by companies and individuals who wish to make private donations to boost the fund.
  “Many talented and beloved members of the Irish creative community are struggling financially due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope that this fund can help to ease some of their worries and fears," said Eleanor McEvoy, chair of IMRO, who is appealing for donations to the fund "to ensure we can help as many people as possible."


> Copyright Office receives funds from government for artists 
As part of an emergency plan, the Ivorian Copyright Office BURIDA has received from Minister of Culture and Francophonie Raymonde Goudou Coffie an allocation of CFA500 million (€762,000) to be distributed to member artists of Copyright Office for the advance payment of copyright and neighbouring rights. "All categories of rights holders, members of BURIDA, are affected by this distribution," said Goudou Coffie. Creators in the fields of music, audiovisual, dramatic arts, literature and visual arts are eligible for the funds. 


> BMAT calls for radio stations to play music from artists whose shows have been cancelled 
Barcelona-based content monitoring company BMAT has launched a new initiative called 'The Show Must Go On Air' to encourage broadcasters to support artists who’ve had gigs cancelled in Barcelona due to COVID-19. The initiative calls on all broadcasters who play or use music to opt for the songs of those who’ve been cancelled. "Every play will help them make up for financial and promotional losses," said the company. "By joining forces, they’re helping those artists who are most impacted by COVID-19 gig cancellations to make up for their losses with boosted royalty earnings and exposure."


> Government eases content quotas for TVs
The Australian government has announced a A$54 million funding to support Australia’s television, radio, newspapers and regional publishers affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The bulk of the funding for the programme – A$36m – will come from “repurposing unallocated funds” from the undersubscribed regional and small publishers jobs and innovation package, and A$13.4m comes from new funding, noted The Guardian.
  The federal government will also provide a 12-month waiver of spectrum tax for commercial television and radio broadcasters, worth A$41m.
  Communications Minister Paul Fletcher also said that Australian drama, children’s and documentary content quotas on free-to-air and subscription television have been be suspended for 2020, although the requirement for 55% Australian content overall remained.  

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