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Factsheet for measure BG-2020-11/501 Updated – measures in Bulgaria

COVID-19: Assisting artists and freelancers

КОВИД - 19: Подпомагане на артистите и свободните професии

Country Bulgaria , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 13 March 2020 – 30 April 2021
Context COVID-19
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Income protection beyond short-time work
– Extensions of income support to workers not covered by any kind of protection scheme
Author Tsetomila Sabcheva and Luboslav Kostov (Citub)
Measure added 12 April 2020 (updated 13 July 2021)

Background information

Independent artists will be entitled to one minimum wage, together with social security contributions, for the period of emergency plus one month thereafter - that is, for three months. The money will be donated through the Culture Fund and will be applied for online and by mail.

Acceptance of applications and then disbursements should start by 15 April 2020. The idea is to support the most needy artists, who have relatively lower incomes compared to others in their industry.

More projects are being considered through the National Culture Fund, for example a drastic increase the budgets of these projects. So far, 10% of their value has been for administrative expenses. In addition, the duration of many cultural projects, which have been delayed by the pandemic, will be extended. In this way the ministry hopes to sustain art teams.

There are around 2,200 freelance artists in Bulgaria. According to preliminary estimates, at least 50% of them will be able to benefit from the measure.

Content of measure

Freelance artists can receive a creative scholarship in the amount of the minimum wage BGN 720 (€360) per month for a period of three months. The measure aims to provide income for the artist who have been affected by the pandemic measures between March and June 2020.

Only artists who had average monthly incomes of less than BGN 1,000 (€500) last year could benefit from the support. The measure will cost BGN 2.7 million (€1.35 million) to the budget of the Ministry of Culture.

A further requirement is that applicants have not received an interest-free loan or other financial support on another basis under a financial assistance measure in the conditions of the COVID-19 epidemic.


The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

10 March 2021

The government approved additional expenditures from the budget of the Ministry of Culture in the amount of BGN 4,267,250 for financial support of programs and projects to support individual performers practicing free professions in the field of music.

11 May 2020

The individual measure has not been prolonged, but the Ministry of Culture provides additional BGN 5 million (€2.5 million) for new cultural projects and their popularisation. The funds are targeted at independent artists and have the aim to support the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Use of measure

Some 1,028 applications were submitted during the application period from 21 to 30 April 2020.

However, on 17 June 2020, artists gathered to protest in front of Ministry of Culture as only 323 independent artists have been approved to receive the aid. Nevertheless, many of the approved applicants did not receive the aid up until end of June 2020, although the programme has been announced in March.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Particular professions
Workers in non-standard forms of employment
Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Consulted Unknown
Form Unknown Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


The measure has been proposed after a group of freelance artists sent a letter to the minister of Culture affairs with the request to be supported during the state of emergency. The letter was signed by artists engaged in several cultural projects like 'Sofia Film Fest', 'Derrida Dance Center', 'ONE for Art Culture' Foundation, organising 'One Dance Week', 'Bulgarian Music Association', 'ACT Association for Free Theatre' and many others small theatre companies, producers and independent artists.

Views and reactions

The measure was implemented after negotiations with representatives of artists' federation. However, most of the artists did not approve the income requirements and organised a protest in front of the Ministry in June 2020 with a request to amend the programme and support independent artists with a monthly income higher than BGN 1,000 (€500) as well.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      R - Arts, Entertainment And Recreation R90 Creative, arts and entertainment activities
      R93 Sports activities and amusement and recreation activities
    • Occupation (ISCO level 2)
      Legal, social and cultural professionals


  • 18 March 2020: Independent artists want compensation from the state (
  • 10 April 2020: Мерки за творци и организациите в областта на културат (
  • 05 May 2020: An additional BGN 5 million for freelance artists (
  • 10 March 2021: Отпускат 4,2 млн. лв. помощ за артистите на свободна практика (


Eurofound (2020), COVID-19: Assisting artists and freelancers, measure BG-2020-11/501 (measures in Bulgaria), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.