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+++ UPDATE +++ The Berlin Art Scene in the Corona Crisis: Status Quo & Support

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This article provides information about the Berlin art scene during the Corona crisis; it offers a regularly updated inventory and provides information about help for artists* and galleries. Information on the accessibility of Berlin galleries and cultural institutions, as well as on art-related developments in the Corona crisis can be found HERE. +++ Updates +++ in the article are marked.


A new and unprecedented event has occurred for all of us. In order to delay the number of coronavirus infections, public life in Berlin has been reduced to a minimum in recent days. Exhibitions, museums, trade fairs, theatres, operas, concert halls and similar establishments are also to be closed to the public with immediate effect until further notice. This is one of the provisions of the guidelines issued by the Federal Government on March 16. The acute and long-term consequences of this shutdown are immense.

With a gross value added of more than 100 billion euros, the cultural and creative industries are one of the largest sectors of the economy – even ahead of the chemical industry, energy suppliers and financial service providers. This is why it is so important that the culture, creative and media industries are massively supported by the aid package of the Federal Government, explained Minister of State for Culture Prof. Monika Grütters in her announcement of aid for the aforementioned branches of industry today (17 March). > Ankündigung von Hilfen

Art + Culture – not a decorative luxury

This gigantic sum shows the economic relevance of the art industry with its artists*, galleries, events and art fairs. But the situation cannot be assessed dramatically enough. “Whatever structures that have grown up in the culture and media sector break away once, cannot be rebuilt so quickly,” Monika Grütters warns. “In the medium term, this can have hardly conceivable effects on the diversity of our cultural and media landscape. That’s why now more than ever before, culture is not a decorative luxury that is only allowed in good times. We can see how much we need it – especially in terms of social cohesion – now that we have to do without it to a large extent. That is why this aid is all the more important now.” The Senator for Culture, Dr. Klaus Lederer, expressed similar sentiments today in an Interview mit der Süddeutschen, highlighting the interlocking and interdependent nature of the individual protagonists in the art and culture scene.

The Dilemma

For us as ART@Berlin editors, the current situation is a dilemma. Because we know about the necessity of visibility of art exhibitions and dates. We see ourselves as a mouthpiece for the local art and gallery scene. The presentation of exhibitions to be visited in Berlin galleries, cultural institutions and museums and the indication of dates are the central concern of our art platform ART@Berlin. After the Robert Koch Institute today raised the risk of infection with the coronavirus to the highest level (Details HERE), we have, however, decided not to actively point out any more exhibitions, even if they are still taking place.

Virtual Visibility

Instead, we at ART@Berlin are working intensively on virtual solutions for maintaining the visibility, experience and availability of art in Berlin even in this exceptional situation, as we already offer, for example, in our GALLERY VISITS in 360 degrees of current or past exhibitions in Berlin galleries. We are in close contact with the Berlin art scene and will inform you shortly about news on our website and social media channels.

Are all galleries closed now?

+++ UPDATE +++On the occasion of the nationwide, so-called hard lockdown from Wednesday, 16 December 2020 until probably Sunday, 10 January 2020, all galleries for contemporary art will also close. During the “light” lockdown in November and the first half of December 2020, they were allowed to be open due to their status as retailers.

In November 2020, galleries that sell art, will be allowed to open! Museums, cultural institutions and municipal galleries must remain closed. Details can be found in this Artikel.

On June 10, 2020, the new, now 10th Ordinance Amending the SARS-CoV-2 Containment Measures Ordinance came into force in Berlin. Among other things, it states in “Part 2: Industry, trade and other institutions of social life” under paragraph 3 in § 5 “Special types of business, culture and special hygiene rules”: Meetings, incentives, conventions, events, trade fairs and trade fair-like exhibitions, special markets and commercial leisure activities may be opened to the public from 2 June 2020. From 2 June 2020, up to 150 persons are permitted indoors and from 30 June 2020 up to 300 persons. Paragraph 8 states that museums, memorials and similar cultural and educational institutions in public and private ownership may be opened to the public. Public libraries may be opened for lending and, subject to restrictions and control of access numbers, for use as places of learning and work. Archives may open their reading rooms. The distance rules of 1.5 m and the wearing of a mouth and nose protector continue to apply. The complete regulation in the version dated 9 June 2020 can be found HERE.

Since 16.04.2020 the Berlin galleries have been announcing their reopening for the coming week, i.e. from Monday, 21.04.2020. The exact day when it will be possible to visit the galleries on site again varies according to the individual opening hours. At best you should inform yourself in advance directly at the gallery you like to visit.

In our opinion, it is a central concern of the approximately 400 Berlin galleries, also in the sense of their artists, to maintain the usual gallery business even without regular visitor traffic, as far as this is currently possible or permissible. Updates and news about the temporary closures of Berlin art locations and offers of other contact possibilities can be found in this DEEDS-Article. 

Even after consultation with the Landesverband der Berliner Galerien, we would like to point out the following to you as art lovers or collectors: It is not possible to speak of a blanket closure of all Berlin galleries, or to assume that all galleries will be closed by mutual agreement. This is because many galleries keep their exhibitions open for individual visitors after appointments have been made – provided that hygiene regulations, appropriate manners and behavioral guidelines are observed – or offer virtual variants of the visit. It is currently generally recommended to contact the gallery you would like to visit in advance.

What about the art fairs and events?

The Berlin art fair paper positions, which was to take place from 30.04. to 03.05.2020 in the representative office of Deutsche Telekom in the capital, has been postponed to 10.09. to 13.09.2020, the time of the Berlin Art Week. This was announced by the organisers on Thursday (19.03.). The location of the postponed event will be Berlin Tempelhof Airport (Hangar 3 – 4). At the same time, the art fair POSITIONS will take place regularly, in compliance with the strictest hygiene and distance rules. POSITIONS has invited the art fair photo basel, which will be held as photo basel.berlin in September 2020 during the Berlin Art Week, also at Tempelhof Airport.

The Gallery Weekend 2020, planned for the beginning of May, will be completely postponed until autumn. In agreement with the participating galleries, the presentation of predominantly contemporary art will be postponed to the weekend from 11 to 13 September 2020, as the organizers announced early Thursday evening (19 March). More international guests would then be expected. At the same time, some galleries plan to show their exhibitions in May as planned. Berlin’s Senator for Culture Klaus Lederer (left) had originally planned to give the Gallery Weekend in spring a focus on the art market and distribution development in cooperation with the Senate Department for Economics. (dpa)

Furthermore we refer to the article “Das Virus erreicht die europäischen Kunstmessen” in the FAZ. This article was last updated on 13.03. We also refer to the Tagesspiegel article “Wir drücken gerade auf Reset” from the same day. Also interesting is the article “Jetzt droht mehr als Messemüdigkeit” in the WELT from the same day. We do not exclude the possibility that the restrictions will become more severe or last longer than expected, but we hope with all concerned that this will not be the case.

Help for those affected (gallery owners, artists, freelancers etc.)

+++ UPDATE +++ Aid for cultural and media enterprises: Emergency Aid IV 3.0 can be applied for from 11 November! Soforthilfe IV for cultural institutions and media companies will continue unchanged into next year. This was announced by the Senate today (04.11.2020). Applications for the Emergency Aid Programme IV 3.0 for the funding period December 2020 to February 2021 can be submitted from Wednesday, 11 November 2020, 9 a.m. to Wednesday, 18 November 2020, 6 p.m. exclusively online via Website der Investitionsbank Berlin. Applications are open to small and medium-sized enterprises in the media and cultural sector which do not receive regular or predominant public funding. Emergency Aid IV 3.0 provides grants to overcome liquidity bottlenecks within these months.
 The prerequisite for Emergency Aid IV 3.0 is that the Federal Government’s Bridging Assistance II (funding period September to December 2020) is taken up, provided this is possible in accordance with the application requirements. Accordingly, the application for bridging assistance II should be submitted before the application for emergency assistance IV 3.0. If it is not possible to apply for bridging assistance II, this should be explained accordingly when applying for emergency assistance IV 3.0.

+++ UPDATE +++ Great interest in Senate digital bonus: Since Monday (02.11.2020), small and medium-sized enterprises with up to 249 employees have been able to submit applications for the digital bonus to the Investitionsbank Berlin. The Berlin Senate uses the grants to support digitisation projects in the companies; eligible projects can be, for example, the digitisation of processes, the establishment of digital distribution channels, but also measures to improve IT security. There is great interest in the digital bonus, with around 400 applications already received by the IBB. To the Application

+++ UPDATE +++ Bundeskunstsammlung: More budget for purchases. The purchasing budget of the collection of contemporary art of the Federal Republic of Germany will be increased by 2.5 million euros to 3 million euros within the framework of NEUSTART KULTUR. This means that this year around 150 works of art are to be purchased, not only at art fairs, but also specifically from artists and galleries throughout Germany. As a rule, the value of the individual work of art should not exceed 20,000 euros. It is not possible to apply for acquisitions. Further information on the Federal Art Collection can be found here.

+++ UPDATE +++ Stiftung Kunstfonds: The programme is aimed at visual artists, art mediating institutions as well as actors and initiatives of the art business. One focus is the promotion of institutions (e.g. art interiors, producers’ galleries, art associations, project spaces) that bring the fine arts to a wider audience with innovative ideas. Further information is available here.

Since the end of September 2020, the multi-billion euro rescue programme NEUSTART KULTUR (New Start Culture) has provided support for a wide range of cultural and media activities. The focus is primarily on cultural institutions, which are mainly privately financed. The aim is to enable them to reopen their homes and resume programmes in order to offer artists and creative people a career and future perspective. The support programmes within the framework of NEUSTART KULTUR are gradually starting up. On this page we will inform you daily about the start of the individual programmes. An overview of further support for artists and creative people can be found here.  Information on the cumulation of bridging aid and emergency aid can be found here.  

Applications for the Überbrückungshilfe II can be submitted as of now: Überbrückungshilfe II covers the funding months September to December 2020 and applications for this period can be submitted with immediate effect. The application period ends on 31 December 2020. Applications are submitted via an “uninvolved third party”, e.g. tax consultants, auditors, lawyers, etc. Further information here.

Soforthilfe V: Small and medium-sized enterprises in Berlin’s economy with over 10 and up to 100 employees, which were particularly hard hit by the Corona crisis, can apply for repayment grants under the KfW Quick Loan 2020 or a loan from the KfW Special Programme 2020 or subordinated emergency aid grants of up to EUR 25,000 to help them overcome an economic situation that threatens their existence. Applications are paused daily between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. and on weekends and public holidays. According to the IBB, applications for Soforthilfe V can still be submitted. The application is exclusively digital and is expected to be possible until 31.12.2020 (status 12.06.2020).

Soforthilfe IV: The culture and media companies that were particularly hard hit by the Corona crisis, usually with more than 10 employees, can apply for grants of up to EUR 25,000 to help them overcome an economic situation that threatens their existence. In justified exceptional cases, up to EUR 500,000 can be applied for. Addendum: Since Friday, 15.05.2020, it is no longer possible to apply for Soforthilfe IV.

The Association of Founders and Self-Employed (Verband der Gründer und Selbstständigen – VGSD) surveys self-employed entrepreneurs in Germany in a large poll on their situation due to the Corona situation. The results form the basis for giving decision-makers from politics and the public a picture of the situation and pointing out fields of action in order to make the aid measures as effective as possible. The survey and the evaluation are carried out anonymously. The survey is supported by a large number of professional associations, many of which are organised in the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Selbstständigenverbände (BAGSV)

To the VGSD or directly to the poll > zur Umfrage

Grants EUR 5 000 – Emergency Aid Package II. Applications can be submitted from Friday, 27.03.2020, 12 noon. On Thursday evening, 18 March, the Berlin Senate has decided on a grant programme for micro and solo enterprises: 5,000 EUR grant, maximum 5 employees, 100 million EUR are available for the time being. Applications will be available on the Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB) website from Friday, 27 March 2020 at 12 noon. Unfortunately, applications sent in advance by e-mail cannot be considered! Addendum: Applications for Soforthilfe Corona are no longer possible since Sunday, 31.05.2020.

Rescue aid Corona – Emergency Aid Package I. Since a few days interest-free bridging loans of up to EUR 0.5 million with a term of up to 2 years can be applied for Access to these funds can also be granted to previously excluded and now severely affected sectors such as retail, catering, accommodation and consumer-oriented services (e.g. clubs). More HERE.

The Berufsverband bildender Künstler*innen Berlin (BBK) wants to collect well-founded information about the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for visual artists* in Berlin in order to be able to make concrete demands on Berlin politics, especially regarding the application conditions for the planned Emergency Aid Fund II. The economic basis for artistic work differs from many other sectors: Thus, this questionnaire is intended to record important details of the situation in the visual arts. A summary of the results will be published. Your personal data will remain anonymous, your e-mail will not be saved. The survey ends on Sunday, 22.03.20 at 18:00. > DIRECT ZUR UMFRAGE

The financial situation in Berlin’s art scene is, apart from a few big players, a partly precarious one. Several protagonists (self-employed, freelancers, individual players, etc.) have not managed to build up large reserves over the years, despite above-average work. A situation such as the current shutdown of Berlin’s art venues means that those affected have no chance of maintaining their sources of income or their own business from now on. Participation in art fairs is also considered essential in order to generate the necessary annual income, especially for art galleries. And it is precisely these that are currently at issue or have already been postponed.

The non-profit Kurt Wolff Foundation, a foundation for the promotion of a diverse publishing and literary scene and the representation of the interests of independent German publishers, expresses similar fears in this monopol-article from 13 March 2020.

The Monopol also mentions a possibility for help on 13 March in this Article – namely in the form of a demand for a reduction in VAT for galleries back to the reduced 7 percent.

The State of Berlin is providing a total of 600 million euros in immediate aid for companies, the self-employed and freelancers.  This was decided by the Senate at an extraordinary session on Thursday, 19.03.2020. 100 million euros of this amount will be available for small businesses (with a maximum of five employees), freelancers and self-employed persons from the health, tourism, social and creative industries. Proof must be provided that a subsidy is necessary to secure the professional existence in the Corona crisis. The amount of the grant will initially be limited to 5000 euros, but can be applied for several times. The state urgently requests that no applications for funding be sent in yet! Information on the funding conditions, application forms and the procedure will be published on the website of the Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB) as soon as possible. “With our emergency aid programme, we want to support solo self-employed persons, freelancers and small businesses with liquidity problems quickly and unbureaucratically”, said Economic Senator Ramona Pop (Greens). Berlin does not rule out increasing this programme to 300 million euros in a second step.  More details can be found in the press release of the Senate Department for Culture and Europe HERE.

Against this background of the Corona crisis, Senator for Economic Affairs Ramona Pop has decided to open the existing BERLIN Liquidity Assistance Program to all small and medium-sized enterprises with up to 250 employees*, including freelancers, and also to clubs and restaurants with immediate effect and until further notice. Applications for these liquidity aids can be submitted exclusively online on the IBB website from Thursday, 19 March 2020. For more information also HERE.

On 18.03.2020 the governing mayor Michael Müller announced a corona aid programme for solo self-employed persons. They are to receive 15,000 euros each. Further details are reported by other media, including the taz in this Article.

Currently, in order to cushion the sudden loss of income in the art scene, numerous people are committed to the temporary and experimental introduction of the unconditional basic income in petitions on various petition platforms, such as these two petitions on Change.org or on  Openpetition.de.

For those who do not want to wait for future decisions or uncertain developments, or are not even able to do so, the support established in this country by the Federal Employment Agency and its Job Centre in the form of basic security (unemployment benefit II) is highly recommended. Nobody can do anything against a pandemic and the associated intervention in almost all areas of society. Even stable companies are endangered in this crisis. Nobody has to be ashamed to make use of state aid in hopeless situations, to which every citizen has a legally established right. You can find further information HERE.

Concerning the situation of the payment of performing artists* or musicians*, the article on the question “Wer bezahlt die Künstler?” by the lawyer and art collector Prof. Dr. Peter Raue is interesting as he counts legal matters from art and culture as well as copyright law among his special fields..

The Künstlersozialkasse (KSK) is currently informing those insured and those subject to contributions who are affected by loss of income due to, among other things, cancelled events, returned tickets, etc. The Artists’ Social Security Act offers some measures for this purpose, about which you can find out more HERE.

We are monitoring current developments very closely. We keep you informed about news by updates or in the form of a new article. If you have any comments or suggestions, you can reach us at post@artatberlin.com.

Stay healthy.

Your editorial team of DEEDS.NEWS & ART@Berlin

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