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IAEA recommendations re. the management of the Covid-​19 crisis

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The speed with which the covid-​19 pan­dem­ic has spread across the world has led many gov­ern­ments to place excep­tion­al con­straints on their pop­u­la­tions, to try and lim­it its propagation.

The ini­tial mea­sures aimed pri­mar­i­ly at lim­it­ing large gath­er­ings, includ­ing con­certs, shows and oth­er cul­tur­al events. Shortly after, venues receiv­ing the gen­er­al pub­lic were closed. These mea­sures caused an imme­di­ate col­lapse of income in the Arts and Entertainment sec­tor. Having been pro­found­ly impact­ed from the out­set of this his­toric cri­sis, the whole of the sec­tor is now at a stand­still. A con­sid­er­able num­ber of work­ers are with­out income and the sur­vival of many com­pa­nies is uncertain.

Loss of rev­enue does not only affect free­lance work­ers, whose work is inher­ent­ly pre­car­i­ous. We have been shocked to learn of cer­tain inter­na­tion­al­ly renowned cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions, such as the MET or the Kennedy Centre, that have moved to imme­di­ate­ly dis­miss all of their ‘per­ma­nent­ly employed’ artists, in some cas­es despite hav­ing received sig­nif­i­cant gov­ern­ment aid, intend­ed to help them to weath­er this unprece­dent­ed crisis.

Certain gov­ern­ments have already put sup­port mea­sures in place in the Arts and Entertainment sec­tor, to sup­port those pro­fes­sion­als who are most vul­ner­a­ble. We call on all states to do like­wise and to deploy ambi­tious res­cue plans with resources that are suf­fi­cient to the sector’s needs.

Certain gov­ern­ments have already put sup­port mea­sures in place in the Arts and Entertainment sec­tor, to sup­port those pro­fes­sion­als who are most vulnerable

The ini­tia­tives put in place should aim, in par­tic­u­lar, to:
1. Guarantee all work­ers in the sec­tor, whether per­form­ers, tech­ni­cians or oth­ers, a suf­fi­cient income for the total peri­od dur­ing which they are unable to car­ry out their pro­fes­sion­al activ­i­ties due to the covid-​19 crisis.
2. Protect employed work­ers from dis­missal due to the tem­po­rary sus­pen­sion of activ­i­ties of com­pa­nies aris­ing from the covid-​19 crisis.
3. Ensure that com­pa­nies cur­rent­ly oblig­ed to total­ly sus­pend activ­i­ties are not con­front­ed with the risk of bank­rupt­cy due to the covid-​19 crisis.
4. In the wake of the cri­sis, pro­vide the sec­tor with the sup­port need­ed for a slow and pro­gres­sive return to activity.

Different mech­a­nisms may be com­bined to achieve these objec­tives. These may include the following:
1. As a first pri­or­i­ty, the rapid putting in place of pub­lic sup­port fund­ing, with suf­fi­cient resources to meet the needs of all work­ers dur­ing the peri­od where they are forced to be inac­tive and beyond that to sup­port their pro­gres­sive return to work after the cri­sis. These funds must in par­tic­u­lar allow self-​employed free­lancers to cov­er their loss of rev­enue from the lack of pro­fes­sion­al activ­i­ty. They must be made avail­able imme­di­ate­ly, as any delay will impact on the fam­i­lies depen­dant on such aid.
2. A tem­po­rary loos­en­ing of access cri­te­ria for unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fit, with the sus­pen­sion in par­tic­u­lar of any mech­a­nisms such as the pro­gres­sive low­er­ing of rev­enues pro­vid­ed or lim­i­ta­tions in time, for the dura­tion of the crisis.
3. Free access to care for all work­ers affect­ed by covid-​19 with no time limitation.
4. Measures aim­ing to light­en or spread out the fis­cal oblig­a­tions of work­ers and com­pa­nies until the end of the cri­sis and beyond, depend­ing on the time need­ed for activ­i­ties to recom­mence. The pay­ment of social secu­ri­ty con­tri­bu­tions, which are vital for the pro­tec­tion of work­ers, must be safeguarded.
5. A straight­for­ward and accel­er­at­ed access for com­pa­nies to par­tial unem­ploy­ment mech­a­nisms, with pub­lic sup­port at a lev­el geared towards pro­tect­ing, to the great­est extent pos­si­ble, the buy­ing pow­er of work­ers dur­ing the crisis.
6. Payment by the state of the social secu­ri­ty con­tri­bu­tions of self-​employed free­lancers, who are tem­porar­i­ly unable to meet their con­tri­bu­tion payments.
7. Credit mech­a­nisms such as easy access to zero-​percentage lend­ing, pay­ment post­pone­ments with­out incur­ring finan­cial penal­ties etc.
8. Clear and adapt­ed rules con­cern­ing the reim­burse­ment of tick­ets for shows can­celled due to the cri­sis, whether these be with­in the imme­di­ate cri­sis peri­od or fol­low­ing it.

These pro­pos­als are not exhaus­tive. Regular con­sul­ta­tion of the social part­ners is cru­cial and will remain so in the wake of the cur­rent cri­sis in order to adjust the mea­sures put in place and ensure they remain adapt­ed to the severe shock that the Arts and Entertainment sec­tor is enduring. 

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