EU artists without Czech permanent residence can get one-time support grant

The government’s COVID Culture program will include more people, but those from outside the EU still aren’t covered.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 03.12.2020 08:08 (updated on 03.12.2020)

Artists from the European Union legally living in the Czech Republic but without permanent residency can now apply for support from the second wave of the government’s COVID Culture program. The deadline to apply has also been extended to Dec. 22, 2020.

While the move has gained praise from those working in the arts, some say it still doesn’t go far enough, as people from outside the EU are still excluded.

The government has been paying subsidies to artists from the second call of the COVID Culture (COVID Kultura 2) program since last week. Originally, only Czech citizens and people with a permanent residence could apply.

Newly, artists and people in technical professions in the Czech Republic with temporary residence and who are also registered as EU entrepreneurs can seek a one-time grant of CZK 60,000.

The Czech Ministry of Culture said the change to allow EU entrepreneurs is based in part on the obligation to treat citizens of other EU countries with legal residence the same as Czech citizens when it comes to social benefits.

Marek Vošahlík from the press office of the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade confirmed the news. “The change was made due to an agreement between the Culture Ministry and representatives of professional associations in living culture,” he told iDnes. Both ministries cooperate on the program.

The program is intended to help people who make their living from live performances. Theaters have been closed for much of 2020 due to restrictions in the spring and a second wave of restrictions in the fall. This have left many performers and technicians with no steady income.

Dancer Lukáš Vilt helped negotiate the change the conditions for applying for the COVID Kultura 2 program so that more self-employed artists who work and file taxes in the Czech Republic, but lack permanent residency can also benefit.

Vilt said that, in pointing out the oversight concerning foreign artists, he and his colleagues relied on a statement by the Czech Ombudsman saying that foreigners with a tax domicile in the Czech Republic should also be entitled to draw this subsidy.

"These are not only artists, but also people such as sound and lighting engineers, hairdressers, make-up artists, production, technicians and others,” Vilt told iDnes.

Steve Gove, founder and director of the Prague Fringe festival, said that the move was good news. “As someone involved in live arts, I can say this has been a tough year. Many people who contribute to the arts in the Czech Republic come from other countries and they often add something special to the local scene. They also need to be supported to get through these tough times so they can continue to contribute once the situation improves,” he told Expats.cz

Gove would like to see the program go even further, beyond just artists and technicians from the EU. “Nationality should not even be a consideration. You either contribute to culture or you do not,” he said. The Fringe Festival itself does not benefit from this program, as it is aimed at individual artists and technicians.

Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček on Nov. 27 said that the ministry was currently ready to pay one-time support to 752 applicants, totaling more than CZK 45 million. More applications are being evaluated.

A subsidy from the COVID Culture program can be requested through the information system on the Ministry of Industry and Trade website. The system guides the applicant through the submission process. Answers for frequently asked questions and are available on both on the Industry and Trade Ministry and Culture Ministry websites. Information is also provided by phone on the help line 1212 or by email at kultura@mpo.cz.