As the impact of the coronavirus continues to cause stress on national economies, the Swedish government is among those offering grants to professional artists suffering the economic impact of Covid lockdown restrictions, including cancelled shows. Eurovision stars Benjamin Ingrosso and Victor Crone are among the artists who have been awarded a grant.
Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reports that grants have gone to Eurovision stars Benjamin Ingrosso, Victor Crone and Jill Johnson. Melodifestivalen stars Oscar Zia, Mendez and Frida Öhrn have also received a grant, as have veteran performers Marika Lagercrantz and Pugh Rogefeldt, rock star Dregen and pop performer Sabina Ddumba, among others.
The so-called Krisstipendium (crisis stipend) is given to creative professionals who can prove they have lost income due to cancelled artistic performances that had been scheduled for some time between 12 March to 31 August 2020.
While Sweden is known for having less strict lockdown measures than many other countries, the Swedish government still has some restrictions in place. From 29 March, events of over 50 have been banned. This includes theatre performances and music concerts — which ordinarily are a major source of income for performing artists.
If a Swedish artist can prove they have missed out on earning at least 15,000 kronor (€1400) in that period, they were able to apply for a grant of 15,000, 30,000 (€2800) or 50,000 kronor (€4700).
Criticism of grants going to well-off artists
Aftonbladet notes some of the artists receiving the grants are well established and have built up substantial assets.
Anna Söderbäck, a representative of the Swedish Konstnärsnämnden (Artists’ Committee), explained that — as per the government’s rules — the grants were not means-tested. She also explained that most people applying for the grants had not previously received assistance from the Artists’ Committee.
She also pointed out that professional artists may find it easier to prove lost income from cancelled gigs as they are more likely to have had contracts in place.
A representative from Benjamin Ingrosso’s record label Ten Music confirmed that they had made the application on behalf of Ingrosso, after receiving advice from booking companies. They also say that the payment is only a small portion of the total lost income from planned summer tours.
What do you think? Should Eurovision stars without work receive assistance from their government? How can the performing arts industry survive coronavirus restrictions? Tell us your thoughts below!