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COVID-19: NT$1.5 billion devoted to relief, revitalization efforts

  • Date:2020-02-27

NT$1.1 billion invested in relief efforts, NT$400 million in revitalization; a four-pronged effort to assist arts and cultural businesses, groups, and professionals

In response to the projected impact of COVID-19, the Ministry of Culture has developed a package of relief subsidies and loans, administrative and regulative plans, and revitalization measures for the cultural and arts sectors. Expected to total NT$1.5 billion, this package includes NT$1.1 billion in short-term relief funding and NT$400 million for ongoing revitalization efforts in the hope of mitigating the impact of the global epidemic and assisting these industries in their recoveries.

Of this NT$1.5 billion, NT$800 million will be drawn from a special budget passed by the Executive Yuan on Feb. 27 under the auspices of the "Special Regulations for COVID-19 Prevention, Relief, and Revitalization (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例)," including NT$400 million for relief and NT$400 million for revitalization.

In addition, the Ministry has sought approval from the Executive Yuan to reallocate emergency funding of NT$700 million through deferral from the Ministry's public infrastructure budget for relief subsidies. As a result, the special relief budget is expected to total about NT$1.5 billion, with NT$1.1 billion earmarked for short-term arts and culture relief efforts.

The "Special Regulations for COVID-19 Prevention, Relief, and Revitalization" recently passed a third reading in the Legislative Yuan. In accordance with Article 9, Paragraph 3 of these regulations, the Ministry of Culture has drawn up the draft "Relief and Revitalization Measures for Culture and the Arts (藝文紓困及振興辦法)," which is set to be submitted to the Executive Yuan for review.

In terms of relief efforts, the draft includes measures to alleviate the operational burden of businesses, groups, and individuals working with culture and the arts, along with the provision of interest subsidies for relief loans, and reductions and possibly exemptions from rent and fees for the use of public cultural venues operated by the Ministry.

As for revitalization, in addition to the Executive Yuan's inclusion of the cultural and arts sectors in the Ministry of Economic Affairs' (MoEA) nationwide voucher program, the Ministry is also launching further measures to promote the consumption of arts and culture and other efforts that will aid these industries.

The Ministry is expected to invest NT$1.1 billion in short-term relief, including NT$1.08 billion in subsidies aimed at helping businesses, groups, and individuals with their operating costs by covering staff pay, performance cancellations, postponements, ticket refunds, venue rental fees, and more. The subsidy program will also help with the launch of new and non-public-facing projects in response to the pandemic, such as R&D, personnel training, production rehearsals, technical upgrades, and digital marketing.

Both of the abovementioned subsidy categories can be applied for by personnel from the cultural and arts sectors who have been impacted by the novel coronavirus. In addition, the Ministry has reached a consensus with the MoEA concerning interest subsidies on relief loans.

The cultural and arts sectors will be included in the MoEA's SME loan package providing relief loans, interest subsidies, and extended repayment schemes. For those who do not qualify as small- or medium-sized enterprises, the Taiwan Creative Content Institute (TAICCA) will provide preferential relief loans and interest subsidies using funding drawn from the NT$20-million special budget set aside by the Ministry for interest subsidies.

The Ministry is also expecting to invest NT$400 million in revitalization measures, of which NT$300 million is additional funding for the inclusion of culture and the arts under the MoEA's voucher program. Holders will be able to use their vouchers for spending involving artistic and cultural venues, music performance spaces, event ticket presales, bookstores, record stores, and cinemas; the enaction of this program will be carried out in coordination with the MoEA.

The Ministry will additionally work on other revitalization measures to expand support for the cultural and arts sectors, with an expected NT$100 million in supplementary investment to come.

The Ministry has also streamlined its administrative and regulatory mechanisms, including fast-tracking current and recurrent subsidies, with a higher proportion paid out in the first installment; key applicable points will be laid out in a separate announcement. The Ministry has also requested its departments, bureaus, and affiliated agencies to simplify the process for evaluations, assessments, and settlements pertaining to those applying for aid.

In the event of unusual difficulties, the Ministry will assist through the framework of special projects and emergency funds to help minimize the impact of the current epidemic on the operations of businesses, groups, and individuals working in the cultural and arts sectors. The Ministry will also coordinate rent-reduction or fee-exemption measures for public venues supervised by its affiliated agencies and other governmental bodies.

Read the original press release here.