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The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the global entertainment business, and the crisis poses an unprecedented challenge to all parts of the film and television industries.
European countries have been among the fastest to respond by introducing measures to help employees and companies hit by COVID-19 and the financial damage inflicted by lockdown regulations.
In addition to short-term work programs, designed to keep employees afloat, and corporate loans and bailouts, Europe has rolled out several specific programs targeting the audiovisual industry.
Below is a nation-by-nation breakdown of who is doing what and where to go to get more information and to see if you or your company qualifies for aid.
The Austrian Film Institute has applied to the government for a special coronavirus budget to compensate producers and distributors hit by production shutdowns and cinema closures.
The Flanders Audiovisual Fund has relaxed its conditions for film subsidy funding, extending application deadlines and payback schedules, as well as forgiving non-refundable costs for supported events, such as industry workshops, that have been canceled because of the coronavirus.
The government of Belgium’s French-speaking region and the regional film fund on April 7 approved €1.4 million ($1.5 million) in aid to the cinema and audiovisual industry. All companies in the cultural and creative fields can also apply for an emergency cash loan of up to $109,000, available for a period of six months, and renewable for an additional six months, at a fixed rate of 2 percent.
France’s nation cinema body, the CNC, on April 1 adopted several measures to support workers and companies in the audiovisual sector. These include an emergency fund for creators whose earnings have dropped more than 50 percent as a result of the crisis. Creators who can’t demonstrate the 50 percent drop can receive a flat one-time payment of €1,500 ($1,630). Companies receiving CNC subsidy support can claim up to 30 percent of their annual approved funding immediately to cover cash flow during the crisis.
Germany’s Federal Film Board and its various regional film subsidy bodies have set up a €15 million ($16 million) fund to support previously approved projects forced to shut down or postponed production due to the crisis. The film boards have also put a halt on loan repayments and have otherwise loosened up funding conditions, speeding up the processing and payments for new applications and forgiving repayment for subsidies already paid out for projects that have been delayed due to the pandemic. The German government has also announced a $54 billion aid package for freelancer workers and small companies, which the entertainment industry can access, and a separate $11 billion program to help freelancers with rent and childcare payments.
The Greek Ministry of Culture, together with Greek Film Center, has set up a €15 million ($16 million) emergency fund which specifically targets areas such as independent cinema owners, short films and documentaries and the animation industry. Freelancers and furloughed employees in all sectors can access a one-off $870 payment, and the government has suspended debt payments, under certain conditions, for both employees and businesses for certified debts in March and April.
Hungary’s National Film Institute launched a HUF 50 million ($150,000) emergency fund to support freelance film industry workers and rescheduled financing repayments for ongoing projects.
The Italian government has unveiled a €130 million ($142 million) package of emergency aid for the entertainment industry and has brought forward $110 million in government tax subsidies for cinemas, including $11 million earmarked for art house theaters. Companies across all sectors can suspend tax payments, and the government has introduced a general 60-day freeze on layoffs.
Screen Ireland has released 90 percent of funding on all approved development loans to Irish screenwriters and production companies through May 31 and has extended development and production loan offers through the same date, as well. It also has streamlined and simplified its funding procedure to make it easier for Irish filmmakers to get funding approval. Screen Skills Ireland is offering many of its industry training programs online and free of charge.
The Netherlands Film Fund has introduced a series of measures, including €3.5 million ($3.8 million) in extra funding for preproduction, $5.5 million in emergency funds for development, post-production and distribution and $817,000 in new funding to help the development of creative skills and new talent.
The Norwegian Ministry of Culture approved a NOK 300 million ($26 million) compensation scheme to cover revenues lost during the crisis. The Norwegian Film Institute and the Oslo-based Nordisk Film & TV Fond have said they will not require repayment of subsidies on canceled or postponed projects and will not cancel support earmarked for cinema distribution if the projects are now released online only.
The Polish Film Institute has extended its subsidy program to a period of three years, insuring that all 45 approved projects will receive funding. The institute also agreed to classify all submitted projects as “difficult,” which means that they can apply for a subsidy covering up to 70 percent of their budget, instead of the usual 50 percent. Projects in development that received Film Institute support will get up to 70 percent of the grant in the first tranche and a theatrical release will no longer be required for Film Institute-backed projects.
On Wednesday, the Film and TV Charity and British Film Institute launched the COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund, backed by donations from Netflix, the BBC, BFI, WarnerMedia and several individuals, which will offer one-off grants of between £500 to £2,500 ($617 to $3,000) to film and TV industry workers based on need. There is a two-week window for applications until April 22.
The Film and TV Charity launched a separate COVID-19 Film and TV Repayable Grants Scheme for industry workers who qualify for the U.K. government’s self-employed income support program but will struggle to wait until June, when the backdated payments will be made. The Film and TV charity is offering interest-free grants of up to £2,000 ($2,500). Opens Wednesday.
The BFI has also launched the BFI Film Continuation Fund, aimed at U.K. productions interrupted by the crisis, and the BFI Fan COVID-19 Resilience Fund for struggling Brit exhibitors. The £2 million ($2.5 million) Continuation Fund — details of which will be announced later this month — is to help cover unexpected additional production costs and ensure that, when restrictions have been lifted and it’s practical, they’re in the best position to resume. The $1.6 million Resilience Fund will offer relief to small and medium-sized exhibitors at the risk of permanent closure. Applications will be via local Film Hubs.
The Director Charitable Foundation has expanded its Directors Support Scheme — aimed at stage and screen directors — in light of the pandemic, giving grants of around £500 ($545) to successful applicants with an urgent and acute need, COVIFD-19 related or not.
Creative workers union Equity has also expanded its Benevolence Fund, with an additional £1 million ($1.25 million) pledge and a donations drive led by actor Mark Rylance. Full Equity members can claim grants for “urgent one-off expenses such as bills” with the union saying typical claims range from $100 to $435, and union subscription fees will also be taken into consideration.
Specifically aimed at the U.K. theater world, a number of charities have come together to help centralize information on how and where theater workers — be they actors, musicians, dancers, front of house, offstage or producers — can access support. Information can be found here.
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