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Focus: status of the artist and contracts


Dear Artists and Colleagues,

With the start of the new year we are sending you the current issue of the touring artists newsletter. With the focus set on status of the artist and contracts we are asking: “self-employment, liberal profession or business?” and are providing useful information sources on contract arrangements, labour law and more.

Additionally, we keep you updated on news related to international mobility: open calls, latest changes in German law, EU cultural policy, events and announcements. And of course, we’d like to share with you touring artists` very own news and activities.


3 experts ‒ 1 question
touring artists favourites
Good to know! and news

touring artists news

And there is more
Latest changes in law in Germany
EU cultural policy
calls for applications
events, dates, initiatives etc.

The touring artists editorial team wishes its partners, colleagues and friends a happy and exciting new year!



Sebastian Hoffmann (touring artists helpdesk service / SMartDe – Netzwerk für Kreative)
Sophie Logothetis (DutchCulture)
Martina Hájková (CzechMobility.Info / Arts and Theatre Institute)
Dear Sebastian, freelance artists who arrive in Germany need to register their self-employment with the local tax office (as long as they don’t have an employment contract with an employer). From your experience, what are the most relevant questions or difficulties that might appear? What do artists need to take care of?
Sebastian Hoffmann: It is crucial that there are two categories of self-employed work or freelancing in Germany: liberal professions (“freiberuflich” in German) and business/trade-style self-employment (“gewerblich” in German). In general, most artistic activities are classified as liberal professions – but not all. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy offers an overview of “types of new business“ and related questions.
It is often difficult to find good and clear translations into English for these two categories. The English word “freelance“ is often translated as and equated with “freiberuflich“. This can cause a problem if the person who sees himself/herself as a “freelancer“ (in the meaning of a liberal profession) actually conducts a business/trade-style self-employed activity, e.g. activities in the field of merchandising. This issue is especially relevant for third-country nationals residing in Germany with a long-term residence permit. Residence permits for self-employed artists are often limited to specific liberal professions. A visual artist holding a residence permit for a liberal profession-style activity is not allowed to sell art works at a market, for example. This would require an itinerant trading licence (“Reisegewerbekarte” in German) which can only be applied for when a business/trade-style self-employed activity was registered with the local tax office. The same applies to a musician (generally classified as a liberal profession) who wants to set up a record label – this is also classified as a business/trade-style activity. More information on this topic is provided on the touring artists website here.
Another important point is that there is a strict distinction between self-employment and employment in Germany. It is often assumed that working for multiple clients would automatically imply that one carries out “self-employed” activities. But this is not necessarily the case - instead, the individual relationship between contractor and client needs to be examined.  Based on specific criteria of this relationship it is decided whether the activity is to be considered “self-employment” or “employment”. “Scheinselbständigkeit“ (pseudo-self-employment) is presumed when the self-employed person is embedded in the client’s operational structures or is subject to directives. The information brochure "Worauf es bei der Vertragsgestaltung ankommt: Kriterien für die Abgrenzung von selbständiger und unselbständiger Tätigkeit" of the Performing Arts Programm (PAP) provides a good overview for the performing arts sector (in German only). The ver.di union compiled a list of criteria for music teachers (in German only).
Sebastian Hoffmann works as adviser for touring artists and is a concert organiser in Berlin.  

Dear Sophie, if an artist from abroad wishes to settle in the Netherlands and to work on a freelance basis, what are the most important aspects to consider? Is the system in the Netherlands – or are certain specificities – comparable to the German system?

Sophie Logothetis: When a self-employed artist from abroad wants to work in the Netherlands, he/she should first consider what kind of contract he/she wants. In the Netherlands there are three different kinds of contracts for artists: first the employee contract, which makes you an employee, not a self-employed person (zzp; zelfstandig zonder personeel in Dutch), secondly the “flex”-contract and third the freelancer-contract. In the Netherlands the latter is called “entrepreneur”, in legal terms the word freelancer does not exist.
In the first case social welfare are withheld from your salary, in some cases also health care, pension tax and tax income, which means you earn less money netto, but you don’t need to save money yourself either; the state does it for you. In the second case you might have the same benefits as with an employee contract, but in most cases you do not: working hours are usually not specified, and you do not have a permanent position. Moreover, you can get fired more easily.  After the economic crisis in Europe, this type of contract has become very popular with employers/clients, precisely because of its flexibility without any obligations tied to it - much to the disadvantage of the artist.
As far as the third type of contract is concerned, you must keep in mind that, although you earn more initially, you also have a number of things to take care of yourself: You need to have at least three clients per year, you have to be able to prove at least 1,225 working hours per year and you have to take into account for your hourly rate that you have to pay taxes, social benefits, etc. yourself. At the same time, you get many tax benefits. For example, when you buy a laptop for professional use, you can declare part of it to the tax administration and have it returned.
In short, it sounds very similar to the German situation, where the position of a freelancer (or entrepreneur) has grown in popularity (often out of necessity) because of the crisis, but at the same time, it is a very precarious situation with many insecurities.
Sophie Logothetis is Advisor within the programmes Europe for Citizens and Platform NL at DutchCulture - centre for international cooperation
If you have more questions on working as an artist in the Netherlands or if you need support within an international project with partners based in The Netherlands, you can contact the Mobility Info Point DutchCulture / TransArtists here.

Dear Martina, how does it work in the Czech Republic? What are the most important aspects to consider if an artist from abroad wishes to settle in the Czech Republic and wants to work on a freelance basis?

Martina Hájková: In the Czech Republic the system is very similar. From the viewpoint of the authorities in the Czech Republic, any free and independent activity, including a business enterprise, is collectively referred to as “self-employment”. They do not actually distinguish between independent free activity and entrepreneurship and consider both essentially the same. For independent artistic activities you do not need an official permission or license (I think you can compare it to the German "Freiberufler"), but certain types of enterprising – for example when an artist also carries out certain production works – require an official permission, a certain trade certificate (I think you can compare it to the German "Gewerbe").
In the Czech Republic, income from self-employment is subject to a tax rate of currently 15 percent of the tax base. If an artist’s independent activity reaches a certain scope or volume, the artist has to apply for a tax identification number (daňové identifikační číslo) with the local tax authority. Artists operating as self-employed are not entitled to any protection under the labour law.

With regards to the relation between the artist and the client it works the same in the Czech Republic: you have to carefully distinguish between self-employment and employment.

Martina Hájková works for the Arts and Theatre Institute in Prague and is coordinator of  CzechMobility.Info.
If you have more questions on working as an artist in the Czech Republic or if you need support within an international project with partners based there, you can contact the Mobility Info Point CzechMobilty.Info, run by the Czech Arts and Theatre Institute, here.


Liberal profession or business?
Watch the short video tutorial by the Munich Business Startup Office here.

Information brochure “Vertragsverhältnisse rechtssicher gestalten”
The information brochure for experts is a cooperation of the lawyer Sonja Laaser and the Performing Arts Programm (PAP) Berlin. It offers valuable information about contracts in the field of the independent performing arts (in German only).
#1: Kriterien für die Abgrenzung von selbständiger und unselbständiger Tätigkeit. (Criteria for distinguishing between self-employed and employed activities.)
#2: Ausfall der vereinbarten Aufführung; Kündigungsmöglichkeiten und Vertragsstrafen! (Cancellation of the agreed performance; cancellation options and contractual penalties!)

Short information about contract and employment laws:
Law Office Laaser
On her Website Sonja Laaser offers helpful and compact information regarding the following topics (in German only):

Guideline for foreign theatre professionals by GDBA
The union for theatre professionals "Genossenschaft Deutcsher Bühnen-Angehöriger (GDBA)" has published a guideline for foreign theatre professionals, who have a temporary job in Germany, with useful tipps around contracts, work permit, social security and taxes. Find the guideline here (in German only).

Tips on contracts and payment in DIE FIBEL - A Primer for Independent Theatre by the LAFT in Lower Saxony
The Association of Independent Theatre (LAFT) in Lower Saxony provides information on various topics in its Primer for Independent Theatre - in German, English and Arabic. In the brochure on Legal Basics you find tips on contracts and payment.

ProKunsT 5 Handbuch Bildende Kunst. Steuern - Verträge - Rechtsfragen
Meanwhile in its 5th edition the Bundesverband Bildender Künstlerinnen und Künstler BBK (Federal Association of Visual Artists) provides its handbook with a collection of texts on the professional practice of visual artists. The rich information source includes model contracts as well as tips for contract negotiations. The handbook is available as printed edition in German, information is available here.  


Itinerant Trade License
An Itinerant Trade License is required by anyone who offers others goods on a commercial basis outside his/her commercial establishment (place of business) or without a place of business, visits others without a previous order and offers them goods or services or wishes to accept orders. Examples are carnies, traders with stalls, traders visiting apartments. The Itinerant Trade License is valid nationwide.
More information here.

What’s a reasonable fee?
If artists or creatives are to calculate a price for a performance or work, they are often left to deal with the matter alone. Having to balance one’s own requirements and the assumptions and expectations of the client(s) makes it hard to come up with an offer for one’s own work.

The Ratgeber Selbstständige published by mediafon GmbH (in German), for example, provides some useful recommendations on how to deal with these questions.
In Germany, there are several publications that provide hints as well as a basis for argumentation as to what constitutes an appropriate fee in a certain situation, a.o.

- Bundesverband Bildender Künstlerinnen und Künstler BBK (Federal Association of Visual Artists), Leitlinie zur Vergütung von Leistungen Bildender Künstlerinnen und Künstler im Rahmen von - Ausstellungen (guideline for compensation of services of visual artists at exhibitions, German language)

- ver.di Fachgruppe Bildende Kunst (professional group visual art), exhibition fee (German language)

- LAFT Berlin (Berlin State Association for the Independent Performing Arts), recommendation of a minimum fee (German language)

Reader “Exhibition Remuneration Right in Europe 2018“
In November 2018, a symposium on Exhibition Remuneration Right in Europe took place in Brussels, organized by IGBK, the International Association of Art (IAA) Europe, VG Bild-Kunst and the organization European Visual Artists (EVA).
A reader has been released in preparation of the event. It provides an overview of national and regional models of exhibition remuneration that have already been successfully put into practice, as well as guidelines and campaigns on exhibition fees in Europe. The Reader is available free of charge on the IGBK website.

Good to know: exhibition remuneration – exhibition fee
In Germany a distinction is made between exhibition remuneration and exhibition fee: an exhibition fee is a payment of an exhibitor made to the owner of an artwork - in most cases the artist - so that the artwork can be presented in an exhibition. Therefore the exhibition fee is an agreed compensation between the owner and the exhibitor for a (temporary) transfer.
One refers to exhibition remuneration when a statutory remuneration claim for exhibitions exists. An exhibition remuneration is then relevant in any case, without any further contract negotiations, as it is regulated by law. In Germany there is no statutory claim! – but it is again and again up to discussions.
These terms are often mixed-up ... and this already applies for Germany. But what’s the case in other countries or if artists and exhibition organisers from different countries are negotiating contracts? An interesting issue to be followed.

Good to know: "Pseudo-self-employment"
Frequently, fee contracts are concluded even though the contractual relationship involves employment subject to compulsory insurance (also "pseudo-self-employment). The contracting parties involved often prefer to conclude fee contracts in order to avoid having to pay their share of the social security contributions. If an audit by the pension insurance or health insurance bodies leads to the conclusion that an employment contract should have been concluded, the employer may be liable for substantial back payments and even face criminal charges in individual cases.
Note: Even if one has multiple clients, this does not automatically mean that an employment relationship cannot be classified as "pseudo-self-employment." The category of “pseudo-self-employment” applies if someone who is officially self-employed is being treated just the way an employee in a regular employment relationship would be treated. More information on the distinction between the status of self-employed and employed can be found at touring artists under Status of the Artist and contracts.
Further information is provided by the Deutsche Rentenversicherung (German Pension Insurance) here and here (in German language only).

Model contracts at touring artists
In the section Status of the Artist and Contracts touring artists provides model contracts for the visual arts field (purchase, loan and license agreement) and shortly for the performing arts field as well. The contracts include tips and comments relevant for the conclusion of a contract between partners based in different countries.


In 2019 touring artists will be again part of the fellowship programme “Weltoffenes Berlin”
As part of the fellowship programme “Weltoffenes Berlin” (sub-programme “Beratung, Unterstützung und Vernetzung für transnationale Kunst-, Medien- und Kulturschaffende“) touring artists started to expand its helpdesk service in 2018: artists and culture professionals from countries affected by crisis and residing in Germany are now especially welcomed. Provided are individual consultations on international projects as well as on questions on how to achieve a future career in Germany. Culture professionals can also obtain information on the Berlin job market in particular. Moreover, the helpdesk service addresses cultural institutions in Berlin that are collaborating with arriving artists.
In cooperation with the Berlin Career College der Universität der Künste Berlin touring artists also started to further develop its online information service for refugee artists, media and culture professionals in Germany.
The Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe supports the professional integration of artists, media professionals and cultural workers who have to or want to leave their countries of residence in order to find a professional perspective in Berlin's art and cultural scene.
More information on the fellowship programme “Weltoffenes Berlin” can be found here.



German Artists’ Social Security Fund: contribution rate remains at 4.2% in 2019
The contribution rate for the German Artists’ Social Security Fund will remain 4.2 % in 2019 and will remain stable. The Künstlersozialabgabe-Verordnung 2019 was published in August 2018 in the Federal Law Gazette of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Companies that use and exploit artistic or journalistic services must, under certain conditions, pay the artist's social contribution. Information can be found here at touring artists.
Statutory health insurance – contributions 2019
As of January 1, 2019, employers and employees are paying contributions to the statutory health insurance in equal parts again. This applies to both, the general contribution rate as well as the mandatory extra premium: The extra premium will now be paid by the insured person and by the employer or rather the Künstlersozialkasse in equal parts. Furthermore, the minimum contribution for self-employed persons whose membership in a statutory health insurance fund is voluntary will be lower in 2019 (informations in German).

Foreign travel costs: current lump sums from January 2019
An up-to-date overview of the tax treatment of travel expenses and reimbursements for business-related and professional trips abroad from 1 Januar, 2019 can be found here.
(Changes to the version from 2018 are printed in bold.)

New stipulation of foreign Per Diem and travel allowances 2019
As of 1 January 2019, new rates for per diems and accommodation allowances for foreign travel apply. They can be found in the current administrative regulation “Allgemeine Verwaltungsvorschrift über die Neufestsetzung der Auslandstage- und Auslandsübernachtungsgelder”: ARVVwV.
They apply in the context of publicly funded projects, which must be billed according to the Bundesreisekostengesetz (BRKG; English: German Travel Expenses Act).
More on the BRKG here.

Minimum wage increases in 2019 and 2020
The statutory minimum wage in Germany will increase in two steps: From January 2019 it will be 9.19 EUR per hour and from 2020 9.35 EUR per hour.
In Germany the statutory minimum wage has been applying without restriction from January 1, 2018. Information as well as on the regulations for interns can be found at touring artists here.

Reduced VAT rate for e-books
With the EU Directive 2018/1713 of 6 November 2018 coming into force, the reduced VAT rate for e-books can also be introduced in Germany. The Federal Government is in the process of transposing new European regulations into national law. Here you can read the directive.

Social security agreement between Germany and Ukraine
Germany and Ukraine signed an agreement on social security in November 2018. It includes regulations in order to avoid double insurance in both countries and is based on principles that are valid within the EU: A mobile worker is subject to the laws of the country in which he/she is actually employed or self-employed. In case of a temporary activity of up to 24 months in the other state, he/she remains insured under the social insurance system of the previous state of employment (principle of posting). In addition, the agreement provides for the unlimited transfer of pensions as well as within the field of accident insurance to the other contracting state.
The agreement has to be ratified by the parliaments of both countries before it finally comes into force after signing. Agreement as pdf (German language).

New regulations for the ESTA application for the USA
Applications are now only possible up to 72 hours before departure and will continue to be approved within 24 hours.
ESTA: electronic entry permit for the USA for citizens of certain countries, including Germany; valid for max. two years, entitles to stays of up to 90 days per entry (max. 180 days per year); for tourist stays, trade fair visits, training courses, business meetings, etc.


Pearle and EAEA: Joint statement on European Parliament vote on Visa
The European social partners of the live performance sector, represented by EAEA and Pearle* Live Performance Europe welcome the vote on the European Commission proposal for a revision of the Visa Code in the European Parliament. Attention is paid to the specific issues and needs of artists and cultural professionals. Read the statement here.

Culture Action Europe: Appeal for the European Elections 2019
Without the explicit recognition of its cultural dimension, the future of the European Union as a common endeavour is difficult to imagine. CAE encourages its members, partners and friends to actively participate in the 2019 European elections and in turn to encourage others to celebrate democracy at this crucial time for Europe. It also appeals to all political forces to approach cultural issues constructively and respectfully within the European elections. Find more information and the appeal here.

European Capitals of Culture 2019: Matera and Plovdiv
Matera (Italy) and Plovdiv (Bulgaria) are the 2019 European Capitals of Culture. Plovdiv is the first Bulgarian city chosen to be European Capital of Culture. Follow all the activities here. The official webpage of Matera’s activities can be found here.

Brexit: Registration form for British citizens living in Berlin

The Berlin Foreigners Registration Office has put a registration form online for British citizens living in Berlin. This can be used to apply for a residence permit.


8th Colombo International Theater Festival 2019 (Sri Lanka)
International Theatre Festival in Sri Lanka,  from June 5 to 11, 2019.
Deadline: January 15, 2019 - information

Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen: Exhibition support und Artists' contact programme
Exhibition support: exhibitions in non commercial organisations abroad; travel and transportation support for German artists or artists based in Germany.
Artists' contact programme: cooperation between German actors and cultural practitioners from transition and developing countries;  support of travel and subsistence expenses.
Next deadline for both programmes: January 31, 2019 - information

NPN-Funding: International Guest Performance Fund for Dance
For Companies/artists located in Germany whose dance production is invited to perform in a foreign country; co-financing of production costs.
Deadlines: January 31, 2019 (1st round) and April 15, 2019 (2nd round) - information

Roberto Cimetta Fund: General Fund for Mobility
General Fund for Artistic and Cultural Mobility in the Euro-Arab-Middle East region for artists and cultural operators living and working in Europe, North Africa and Middle East; priority is given to mobility from the South and East of this region.
Deadline: January 31, 2019 - information

The Festival Academy: Application for Atelier for Young Festival Managers
The Festival Academy (initiative of the European Festivals Association - EFA) calls for application for the 16th edition of the Atelier for Young Festival Managers, to take place from 13-19 November 2019 in the Eurometropolis region (Belgium/ France), organised in partnership with NEXT Festival.
At the heart of the Atelier: the sharing of experience and enabling a global conversation.
Deadline: January 31, 2019 - information

Fondazione Internazionale per la Scultura: Scholarships (Switzerland)
Five art scholarships for artists dedicated to three-dimensional work for 2020 (May to October); monthly scholarship, studio, workshops, apartment.
Deadline: March 31, 2019 - information

Helsinki International Artist Programme: Villa Eläintarha residency (Finland)
Short-term production residencies, thematic focus on performing arts and projects in public spaces for professionals from all fields of culture; minimum duration 1 week, maximum 2 months.
Deadline: Applications are now possible for the year 2019 - information

Open calls that support international mobility of artists and cultural professionals are always available at the webpage of On the Move, Cultural Mobility Information Network. OTM’s monthly newsletter is sent out in five languages.

Internship: The Association for Dance in Germany is looking for support
The Association for Dance in Germany has been working since 2006 as a nationwide platform for artistic dance in Germany. From now on it is again possible to apply for a three-month internship (30 hours per week, remuneration 300 EUR per month). More information here (German only).


CREATIVE EUROPE - CULTURE: After the deadline is before the deadline!
In 2019, we will once again offer one-day information seminars on cultural promotion in the EU as Creative Europe Desk CULTURE. Register now for the participation in our seminars in Bonn or Berlin:
The seminars provide an introduction to the complex topic of EU cultural promotion and its objectives. In terms of content, the focus will be on the subprogramme CULTURE in CREATIVE EUROPE, which aims to work together in a European context, thereby supporting the professionalisation of cultural workers and their mobility, as well as opening up new audiences.
Seminar dates 2019: 19./20. March in Bonn; 02/03. April in Berlin
Information and registration here.


visumPOINT: Newsletter
News on visa and residence rules as well as on current issues related to relocation/global mobility are regularly shared via the visumPOINT newsletter (German only). Information is available here.

Digital debate #Freepost: Arts and Politics – How political should artists be today?
Contemporary art in Europe is socially relevant. But how does it shield itself from political appropriation? Joseph Young, sound artist, belit sağ, video artist, and Via Lewandowsky, visual artist, are discussing these questions – together with you! Join the debate at, on Facebook or Twitter (#freepost).
#Portofrei (#Freepost) is a project of the Goethe-Institut; the current edition takes place in cooperation with IGBK.

European Dance Passport
Following the final event of the European project Dance Futures – Creating Transition Schemes for Dancers and Promoting Sustainable Mobility in the Dance Sector in Rotterdam on 6 November 2018, the European group of the International Federation of Actors (FIA) has launched its new Dance Passport. The Dance Passport is a union solidarity network, which allows dancers, who are paid-up union members in their home country, to access local union support while working for a short period in any European country where there is a participating union. More info on the Dance Passport here.

Artist Training for Professionals / Film
The project ARTIST TRAINING for Professionals is a qualification opportunity offered by the Berlin Career College aiming to the qualification, consulting and networking of artists in exile. During the three editions of the project from July 2018 to March 2020, in addition to an introductory course, four complementary modules provide information and contacts on the following four fields: music, fine arts, performing arts and film. The next module Film (21 to 25 January 2019) offers information on the film sector and allows networking with the Berlin cultural and creative industries. More information here.

German Centre of the International Theatre Institute has published the Yearbook 2018
Each yearbook edition of the German Centre of the International Theatre Institute is dedicated to a specific focus or theme, with theatre-makers and cultural workers from different disciplines and different countries providing insights into their work and experiences on this topic. The yearbook 2018 is focussed on "Working together – Co_Laboration". Against the background of mobility, we especially recommend the article "Entry, Duration of stay and guarantee of return" by Jens Van Lathem (CultuurLoket), in which he sheds light on the administrative problems and hurdles of artistic cooperation across national borders with examples such as work permit, social insurance and taxes explained. You can read the yearbook online.

FestivalFinder.EU is online - register now!

Information on festivals of all disciplines in 45 European countries is provided by the database which was launched by the European Festival Association (EFA). It ambitions to be Europe’s up-to-date, insightful, and complete searchable database that brings the arts to the attention of audiences worldwide. And: Registration at FestivalFinder.EU is easy and free of charge.

New OTM Cultural Mobility Funding Guides: Latin America and the Caribbean region, Portugal, Greece
On the Move together with Arquetopia Foundation (Mexico) is pleased to share the cultural mobility funding guide for Latin America and the Caribbean region, thanks to the support of the Ministry of Culture - France.
And two new guides were supported by the Asia-Europe Foundation: guides are now available for Portugal and Greece.

Compendium of cultural policies & trends: Cultural policy profiles from the Arab region
Culture Resource initiated a research project in 2009 aimed at identifying the main cultural policy features of several Arab countries which resulted in a variety of cultural policy profiles. Profiles of Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia are now available on the Compendium website.

Report and webinar
Julie’s Bicycle: Environmental Report 2017/18
Julie’s Bicycle, together with Arts Council England, has released the “Sustaining Great Art and Culture Environmental Report 2017/18“, which acknowledges the efforts of the English cultural sector to improve environmental practices. Read the full and summary report here.
Webinar in February: “Effective Environmental Policies In Action“ – There is no one-size-fits-all approach for environmental policies. The webinar will help to develop an environmental policy and action plan, which both are tailored to the needs of one’s organisation and activities. Find out more here.