General national economic measures
*small business relief or other financial support,
*interest free crisis loans,
*income support for employees,
*income support for freelance workers,
* business rates payment holiday,
*employer social security payment holiday,
*loan repayment holiday,
*mortgage payment holiday
Also: VAT returns to companies will happen faster.
- In April 2020, the Government increased the maximum total value of guarantees that can be extended for loans to local SMEs. The guarantee covered 90% of the loan value, for loans up to RON 1 million (around €200,000), and 80% for those over RON 1 million. (more info here)
-VAT refund, during March, for all settled settlements and for which up-to-date reimbursement decisions have been issued; implementation of a new VAT reimbursement mechanism, aimed at speedily settling the payments (started on April 1), 2020; suspension of fiscal control actions (tax inspections, anti-fraud controls), except for the checks that can be carried out remotely, as well as cases of tax evasion, where there are indications in this regard. (more info here)
-For technical unemployment (furlough), in case of temporary interruption of the activity, for the period of suspension of the employment contract at the initiative of the employer the allowance that the employees benefit was covered by the unemployment insurance budget. The level of the allowance was at least 75% of the basic salary corresponding to the job occupied paid from the salary fund, but not more than 75% of the gross average wage. (more info here)
-On 1st July 2020, the Romanian government unveiled an €1.16bn economic recovery plan focused on SMEs. (see here)
-A new programme that provides SMEs from most COVID-hit sectors (not only culture) with grants – was announced in July 2020, to be implemented in 3 phases.
Phase 1: a 2.000 euros microgrant for micro companies and NGOs with no employees (on a first come-first served basis).
Phase 2: a capacity building grant of 2.000 – 150.000 euros for SMEs (amount to be received is decided depending on the annual revenue).
Phase 3: an investment grant of 50.000-200.000 euros for SMEs (based on projects, like the non-refundable funding system).
The total amount is split like this: 100.000.000 euros for microgrants, 350.000.000 euros for capacity building and 550.000.000 euros for the investment grants.
Now, in May 2021 we know that:
- Phase 1 went OK
- Phase 2 - call for applications closed at the end of September 2020, so far probably less than half of approved applications have received the funding.
- Phase 3 – call for applications was closed in December, then the new appointed Minister of Economy called off the call for fraud and dismissed it. First they said they needed to issue a new guide for applicants, but in the end the measure was dismissed, never to be implemented at all.
National measures specific to the music sector or to culture in general
The music sector can benefit from the above-mentioned general measures.
For people (artists) whose exclusive revenue stream is coming from royalties - they get an indemnity of 75% from the average medium salary, before taxes (taxes apply) during the state of emergency period. This refers to freelance professionals in any cultural domain (musicians, actors etc). This was initially implemented for March & April 2020 but was extended until June 2021.
New support measure for culture (music, theatre, bookstores/publishers, art galleries) was negotiated between the government and cultural sector representatives during December 2020 and January 2021 (estimated total amount: 100m euros) only for the cultural sector to find out in the end that the government was negotiating a support measure for which they did not have the money.
Measures taken by local collecting society organisations
CREDIRAM, the Romanian performers’ association is lobbying the European commission to set up a solidarity fund for performers thorugh AEPO-ARTIS and the #saveEUculture campaign: http://credidam.ro/wp/credidam-sustine-campania-saveeuculture/
Other music funds available
The National Cultural Fund - they have 3 calls/year. Funds are secured for this year. A few private initiatives have launched calls for small projects in order to address the total lack of revenue for artists during this period. Ministry of Culture has opened a call for projects called Acces Online 2020 for cultural projects that can only be presented/promoted online. All money for salaries and indemnification from the state came on April 15 2020.
In many regions of Romania, budget for culture from the local authorities was moved to health funding, so there were a few calls for applications launched.
In 2021 the budget for the National Cultural Fund was secured and calls are going as scheduled.
In Bucharest, the city budget was voted on at the beginning of May 2021, with a very low amount secured for culture.
Romania’s RRF is still negotiated with the EU, it seems it also has a very low percentage dedicated to culture.
Support from national radio and other media
National radio has increased local music quota only on one of its channels - Radio Romania Cultural which is, actually, one of the if not the one with the lesser audience of all its channels.
That was in 2020. It’s not known if this policy has been maintained in 2021.
Social media campaign to promote music during the crisis
In 2020, there has been an initiative started by a few indie labels and supported by the Ministry of Culture in order to increase local music quota on radios. So far only one radio station has done it.
Business and other expected losses
No local impact assessments done so far, there's little data about the music sector even before the crisis. There are approximately 15000 artists across different performing arts sectors (music, acting, dance). All are impacted.
As per the members list from their neighbouring rights collecting society (CREDIDAM), over 170 record companies (majors and independents) as per their neighbouring rights collecting society (UPFR), around 2000 concert/festival promoters and 1500 venues as per one of the biggest ticketing companies in Romania (iabilet.ro), which are all impacted by the crisis.
The live sector was frozen from March 11 to June 1st 2020, which had an impact on the whole value chain. There was a short period of relaxation with live events being allowed with a maximum of 500 people in the audience for outdoor events (provided that the venue was large enough to accommodate the audience in perfect safety conditions, with the right social distancing etc). For indoor events, the maximum capacity allowed was 30%.
Then, from November 2020 to May 2021, events were banned again, with a narrow window of 5 weeks in Jan/Feb when inside events were allowed at 30% capacity.
The local music producers collecting society organisation estimates a 50% decrease in public performance collection compared to 2019. For record companies, revenues are down 25-30%.
For more info:
INDIERO - Romanian association of independent record labels - https://www.facebook.com/indieromania/