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Majority of Berlin artists worried they can't pay rent due to coronavirus, survey finds

German government has introduced emergency measures to support the creative industry

Around 10,000 visual artists live in Berlin © Jonas Tebbe

More than half of Berlin’s visual artists expect to lose at least 75% of their monthly income as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, according to an online survey conducted by the BBK, the city’s professional association of visual artists.

Over three-quarters of the 2,021 artists surveyed said they are worried they will not be able to pay next month’s rent or other basic living costs. More than 90% said they expect “acute financial problems” if the lockdown continues for months. About half said they are also unable to work at their second jobs from home.

The German government and the city of Berlin have announced emergency support measures for freelance workers and small companies, including grants and loans. Culture Minister Monika Grütters has said that “especially at the moment, artists are not just indispensable, they are vital.”

The BBK said that the large number of non-European Union artists working in Berlin cannot access the basic income currently on offer via unemployment benefits. It is demanding a professional basic income of €1,500 per month for artists with membership of the Künstlersozialkasse, the social security fund for self-employed artists.

The BBK estimates that around 10,000 visual artists live in Berlin. Previous studies have shown that their average amount of income from artistic activity is under €10,000 a year and a majority rely on other sources for income; fewer than a quarter can cover their living expenses through their art.