Since March 2020, GEMA has been supporting members and customers who were economically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with various measures. In May 2021, GEMA was presented with the German Arts Sponsorship Award (Deutscher Kulturförderpreis) for its spirited, quick and unbureaucratic action. Dr. Harald Heker, CEO and Chairman of the Managing Committee, provided an overview of the aid and support given so far and of new initiatives during his report to the GEMA General Assembly.
Abstract from the report of GEMA CEO Dr. Harald Heker, GEMA AGM 10/June/2021:
“COVID-19 affected the existence of many music creators. And the threat is still there, as we all know. Right from the beginning, GEMA has been trying to cushion the financial impact for its members. With the ‘protective shield live’ programme and the ‘corona relief fund’, we managed to provide financial support to more than 4,000 members at short notice and in an unbureaucratic manner. More than 8 million euros were paid out from both of these aid programmes, as advance payments or even as direct assistance.
GEMA is going to build a new financial protective shield for the current year. After all, revenues from daily business have, of course, decreased sharply, which is going to affect the pay-outs this year in turn. After the pay-out dates for the live and broadcast sector, GEMA is therefore going to open up the possibility to ask for lump sum advance payments again next month. This time, other categories will be included apart from the live categories, such as the music playback sector. On top of that, if you are a publisher, you can now also ask for advance payments if your GEMA pay-outs collapsed due to the pandemic. Details are on our website and on the Online Portal.
Another aid measure is also just about to be launched: Support for creators and performers via a grants programme. A programme which is to be implemented by GEMA and other collective management organisations. We initiated it and have lobbied the government heavily. We highlighted time and again that other programmes do not help many solo creatives and that creative professionals find themselves in a special situation. We had already pointed out early that the loss of music uses last year will only have tough consequences for many music creators this year, during this year’s pay-outs.
Our arguments were persuasive and the Federal Government listened to them, especially State Minister Grütters. She supported this programme very much. As such, GEMA can soon pay out 30 million euros in grants. This amount will enable up to 6,000 music creators to enjoy a 4-month stipend of 5,000 euros.*
I had already told you in my report last year that GEMA also supports its customers during the pandemic. Right from the start, we offered support to our customers whose businesses had to stay closed due to official administrative orders: We have let contracts rest and refunded already made advance payments. These measures were extended until the end of May this year.
Part of the support for our customers was also that GEMA took on the coordination of the so-called “venue programme” of the Federal Government in 2020, as part of the rescue and future programme NEUSTART KULTUR. First, 30 million euros were available for the venues so that they could comply with COVID-19 rules. GEMA, aware of its duties to the entire music business, did not hesitate when asked whether it wanted to take over the allocation of the monies in question. And this is how mobile stages, IT equipment, additional hygienic concepts, protective installations, Plexiglas panes, contactless payment systems, online tickets and better ventilation found their way to about 600 venues. From Backstage to Rock am Ring, from Schloss Moritzburg to Gretchen in Berlin. The earlier a venue equips itself in line with COVID-19 regulations, the faster we will be able to listen to live music there.
The amount of 30 million euros has, due to the very high demand, been increased several times to nearly 70 million euros in order to also include music clubs, performance venues and festivals in the support scheme. And, not without being rather proud of our staff, I can state that GEMA managed to pay out millions of these financial aids and subsidies nearly without a sound. I put this hypothesis out there that our vigour and our readiness to help others improved our image among the public and among politicians, and I am sure that this in turn contributed to us being able to ‘lobby for’ 30 million euros in grants for our members.
*Details on the grants programme will be available soon on www.gema.de