The Ministry of Culture unveiled the "Relief and Revitalization Measures for the Cultural and Arts Sectors Impacted by COVID-19 (文化部對受嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎影響發生營運困難產業事業紓困振興辦法)" on March 12. These regulations lay out the relief mechanisms, including operating and loan interest subsidies, that are being put in place to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus and measures for revitalizing the industries once the pandemic is contained. All culture-related enterprises or professionals whose operations and livelihoods have been impacted by the virus since Jan. 15 of this year can apply for aid.
To support industries, businesses, and individuals in the cultural and arts sectors experiencing operational difficulties due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, these regulations will support all those affected in the following areas:
- Publishing and physical retail of books
- Creation, performance, sales, or development of crafts and visual/performing arts
- Film screenings, film/television production, and popular music performances
- Operation and sales regarding museums, local cultural centers, and community-building efforts
- Operation and preservation of tangible and intangible cultural assets
Where said operations are incorporated or registered in Taiwan as legal persons, unincorporated organizations, or businesses operated by a holder or holders of Republic of China (Taiwan) citizenship, or ROC citizens who have had contracts or similar agreements impacted by the pandemic, they are eligible to apply for relief in accordance with these regulations.
The relief measures being put in place by the Ministry of Culture include subsidies to mitigate the impact on operations, loans and loan interest subsidies, and subsidies for rents and fees for cultural venues affiliated with the Ministry. Among these, the subsidies for mitigation of the impact on operations come in two forms — namely, one for reducing operational difficulties and one for boosting response. Applicants may apply for these two categories individually or jointly.
The first category of subsidies for reducing operational difficulties will be available to assist with costs incurred in relation to the pandemic, including staff pay, event cancellations or postponements and associated refunds, venue or equipment rentals, royalty payments, and more.
The second category of subsidies for boosting response is aimed at helping the arts respond to the impact of the pandemic through boosting operational capabilities during this period, planning for innovation and development, training staff, organizing rehearsals, improving technical capabilities, and planning for digital marketing.
Applications for the two categories above will be evaluated by a panel of experts drawn from academia, practitioners, and organizational representatives in accordance with the respective categories of the target industries and the subsidies involved. The actual amounts of any subsidies will be subject to the results of this evaluation and will be awarded in view of the particular impact involved.
After the special budget for these relief measures passes its third reading in the Legislative Yuan, the Ministry of Culture will announce the application instructions, along with the unified window for application forms and the receipt thereof the following week.
The week after this, the Ministry will begin accepting its first applications, with the acceptance period expected to run until April 10. To accelerate the funding schedule, the first relief subsidies will cover impacts incurred between Jan. 15 and March 31. Response subsidies may also be paid out at the same time; however, these will not be restricted to this specific time period.
After these first announcements and payouts, the Ministry of Culture will review the pandemic situation after April and make new announcements regarding the acceptance of applications for these two subsidies. The maximum subsidy per enterprise has been announced as NT$2.5 million per round, with those defined as natural persons in the regulations eligible for a maximum of NT$60,000 per round.
In addition, these regulations also set out a mechanism for loans and loan interest subsidies, with arts and culture enterprises having been included in the Ministry of Economic Affairs' (MoEA) Small and Medium Enterprise Administration relief loan scheme. Should any enterprise applicants encounter difficulties in applying for a loan under this scheme, the Ministry of Culture and the Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA) will provide advice and assistance.
In accordance with the Ministry of Culture's "Relief and Revitalization Measures," each business may apply for an extension on old loans along with operating capital and stimulus loans, and interest subsidies will also be provided by MoEA with credit guarantees provided by the Small & Medium Enterprise Credit Guarantee Fund of Taiwan (Taiwan SMEG, 中小企業信保基金). More specifically, the loan interest subsidies scheme includes:
1. Extension of old loans: For loans that have been processed, the repayment periods will be extended and interest reduced through an agreement with the banks, with MoEA subsidizing interest for each bank at a maximum of 1.06%, which is in line with Chunghwa Post's one-year fixed deposit interest rate. The subsidy period will be a maximum of one year, and each business is eligible for a maximum interest subsidy of NT$220,000.
2. Working capital loans (e.g. salary, rent): For those who obtain a working capital loan from MoEA in line with these regulations, Taiwan SMEG will provide a 100% credit guarantee and waive the guarantee handling fee. Interest will be subsidized for a maximum of six months at a maximum rate in line with Chunghwa Post's two-year fixed savings interest rate of 1.095% plus an additional 1% for a total of 2.095%, and each business is eligible for a maximum subsidy of NT$55,000. In addition, recipient businesses may not cut salaries or lay off staff during the loan period.
3. Stimulus capital loans: For those who obtain a stimulus capital loan from MoEA in line with these regulations, Taiwan SMEG will provide a credit guarantee of 80% to 90% and waive the guarantee handling fee. Interest will be subsidized for a maximum of one year at a maximum rate in line with Chunghwa Post's two-year fixed deposit interest rate of 1.095%, and each business is eligible for a maximum subsidy of NT$220,000.
For those who are granted loans in accordance with the "Relief and Revitalization Measures" but do not meet the eligibility requirements for interest subsidies, the Ministry of Culture will commission TAICCA to process their interest subsidies. Operations relating to the abovementioned interest subsidies are subject to further notice.
In addition, if non-profit arts or cultural organizations with tax registration find a need for capital turnover, the Ministry of Culture can also assist with referrals to Taiwan SMEG's "SME Billion Guarantees Scheme (中小企業千億保專案)" to provide credit loans of up to NT$6 million; those seeking up to NT$1 million will receive a 95% credit guarantee, while those applying for over NT$1 million will receive an 80% credit guarantee.
Of this NT$1.5 billion in relief and stimulus for culture and the arts, NT$800 million will be drawn from a special budget by the Executive Yuan under the auspices of the "Special Statute For COVID-19 Prevention, Relief And Restoration (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 stimulus.
In addition, the Ministry has sought approval from the Executive Yuan to reallocate emergency funding of NT$700 million through deferral of the Ministry's public infrastructure projects 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 and NT$400 million for follow-up stimulus investment.
Of the follow-up NT$400 million, NT$300 million is set aside for funding for the cultural and arts sectors as included under MoEA's national vouchers scheme. These vouchers can be used in art venues and music venues, for pre-purchased tickets, and in bookstores, record stores, and movie theaters, among other applications. They are not limited to travel, accommodation, commercial zones, or night markets and are applicable to cultural venues nationwide. The full budget of NT$300 million will be applied to discounts for purchases related to culture and the arts.
In addition, the Ministry's relief-and-stimulus measures announced today will also include future coordination with other stimulus measures for these industries, including the promotion of the publishing and physical retail of books; stimulating the creation, performance, sales, and development of crafts and visual/performing arts; invigorating film screenings, film and television production, and performance of popular music; supporting operations and sales regarding museums, local cultural centers, and community-building efforts; and encouraging promotion and operation of tangible and intangible cultural assets.
These efforts are expected to have a budget of NT$100 million, and will, in conjunction with the annual plan, support civic-sector response and improvement plans with follow-up revitalization efforts to further boost the effectiveness of this stimulus.
In addition to the above measures, the Ministry of Culture has also launched a number of other administrative control mechanisms, including providing its current recurrent subsidies early, with a higher proportion paid out in the first installment.
If approved subsidies are delayed or canceled due to the impact of the pandemic, but the related expenses have already been paid, those expenses will be assessed for recognition on a case-by-case basis. The Ministry has also requested various units to streamline evaluations, assessments, and settlements. In the event of unusual difficulties, the Ministry will also assist using the framework of special projects in order to help minimize the impact of the current epidemic on the operations of arts and cultural businesses, groups, and individuals.
In order to ensure everyone has a stronger understanding of the Ministry of Culture's "Relief and Revitalization Measures," the Ministry has held a number of consultation meetings to solicit opinions and explain the measures, along with continuous briefings with various fields within culture and the arts. The Ministry will also continue to monitor the impact of the pandemic, making rolling adjustments to efforts to counter the impact of COVID-19 as needed.
Please visit the Ministry of Culture's "COVID-19 Relief and Revitalization Measures Platform (文化部協助受疫情影響之文化藝術事業防疫及紓困振興專區)" and YouTube channel for further information. For those who wish to directly speak with a liaison from the Ministry, a list of contacts is available here.
More resources, including stimulus plans drafted by other ministries, are available on the Executive Yuan's website.
Application primer for publishers, bookstore owners
Application primer for visual and performance artists, businesses