Coronacrisis: important issues for the cultural sector

On Thursday 12 March 2020, far-reaching measures were announced by the Dutch government to further prevent the spread of the coronavirus. One of the measures with a major impact on cultural institutions is the decision to cancel all events involving more than 100 people. Consequently, many theatres and museums were forced to close down. Smaller cultural institutions have also closed their doors for the time being, in order to proactively contribute to the safety of the public, participants and employees. A heavy blow for a vulnerable sector.

On 17 March 2020, the Cabinet announced an additional package of measures. What consequences does the coronavirus have for your cultural institution? And what measures can you take?


Many subsidy providers and private funds have indicated that they will not cut their contributions if the performance indicators are not achieved due to the (forced) closure. Others delay the implementation of the project or event. It is important to contact the subsidy providers and/or private funds in good time about the impact the measures will have on their contribution.


Employment Bridging Emergency Fund (NOW) is the temporary measure replacing the short-time working scheme (Wtv; Werktijdverkorting). NOW is applicable for a situation where the applicant expects a loss of turnover of at least 20%. With the application, the employer commits himself in advance to the obligation not to apply for dismissal for his employees for commercial reasons during the period for which the compensation is received.

The application is valid for a period of three months, which may be extended once for a further three months (further conditions may be attached to the extension).

On the basis of your application, the UWV will provide an advance payment equal to 80% of the expected compensation. The final determination of the compensation is subject to an adjustment where there has been a reduction in the wage bill (this may lead to the obligation to reimburse).


The cultural sector is highly dependent on self-employed persons (ZZP). Self-employed persons do not employ any staff and cannot make use of the short-time working scheme. If they run into problems as a result of the coronavirus, they can appeal to the Besluit bijstandsverlening zelfstandigen 2004 (Bbz; Decree on Assistance for the Self-employed 2004). Individuals who meet the conditions for this scheme must apply to the municipality in which they are registered.


In order to ensure employers can overcome liquidity problems, they have the option to submit a request for a special deferment of payment of income tax, corporate income tax, sales tax (VAT) and wage tax. The Tax Administration will automatically grant a postponement of payment for three months if the entrepreneur justifies in writing that he is in trouble because of the coronacrisis. As soon as the Tax Administration receives the request, they will suspend the collection. Individual assessment of the request will take place at a later stage. This arrangement is subject to the condition that a declaration has been made and an assessment has been received.


The measure introduced on 1 January of this year for a high unemployment act (WW) premium for flexible contracts will be adjusted. Employers who have applied the low WW premium while, at the end of the financial year, it turns out that the employee in question worked 30% more hours than agreed in the agreement, will not be faced with a high premium.


If an assessment is not paid on time, 4% recovery interest must usually be paid, counting from the moment the payment term has expired. In order to facilitate business owners' applications for easy deferment of payment, the Cabinet will temporarily reduce the recovery interest rate from 4% to 0.01% for all tax debts from 23 March 2020.

The percentage of tax interest will also be temporarily reduced to 0.01% for all taxes for which tax interest is payable (currently 8% for corporate income tax and 4% for other taxes). This reduction will take effect from 1 June 2020 for all taxes, except for income tax. For income tax, the reduction will take effect from 1 July 2020.


The levy of the energy tax and/or the levy of Renewable Energy Storage (ODE; Opslag Duurzame Energie) for companies in the second, third and fourth tax brackets has been temporarily postponed.


In addition to the external possibilities, it is also important to look at what can and must be done within the organisation. Of course, cost awareness will have to be raised and it will have to be investigated which contracts (e.g. hired staff) could possibly be (temporarily) scaled down. Above all, however, it is also important to get a good picture of the current financial situation in the short term and to pay extra attention to liquidity planning, taking into account different scenarios. This information is important in order to be able to determine the right steps and is often also necessary in order to be able to claim facilities from the government and/or the bank.

Once the most important emergency measures have been taken, it is then important to look ahead strategically quickly. Should there perhaps be a change of course?

Want to know more?

Would you like more information on this subject? Then please contact Egon de Prouw via e-mail or by phone: +31 (0)88 277 10 24. He would be happy to assist you. 

Want to know more?