“Working in the Arts”

the new regulations

By Marc Brion & Stijn Michielsen

The reform “Working in the Arts” responds to the European Parliament resolution of October 21, 2021 on the situation of artists and the cultural recovery in the EU (2020/2261(INI), in which the European Parliament calls on the Member States to ensure full access to social protection for artists and cultural workers, regardless of their employment status, including access to unemployment allowance, healthcare and pensions and urges the Member States and the Commission to take specific measures for the different categories of creative professions in order to tackle unstable income, unpaid work and job insecurity, and safeguard a minimum standard for their income.

This reform is partly the result of a digital participation process. Through the Belgium ‘Working in the Arts’ website, any interested individual could participate in this process by completing surveys, making proposals and taking part in debates. A technical working group was also established and supported by the Federal Public Service. In the past, the legislation focused exclusively on artists. From now on, individuals doing artistic-technical or artistic-support work in the arts will also have access to a set of benefit rules in social security. We will use the term art workers. For example, writers and illustrators, but also image and sound technicians, a casting director or a scenographer. The decisive element to be approved as an art worker is that you contribute in an essential way to an artistic creation or performance where the artistic, artistic-technical or artistic-supporting character prevails.

You apply for the recognition as an art worker to the working in the arts commission. This can be done on the digital working in the arts platform. The platform and the working in the arts website contain an accessible explanation with real examples of practices that may or may not be eligible for recognition. This information should enable the applicant to make a realistic estimation.

In the application, you have to prove a professional practice in the arts that must be sufficient to support part of your subsistence. In its evaluation, the working in the arts commission will take into consideration the received fees of the past five years, the investment of time and, where appropriate, the invisible work (search for grants, participation in casting, writing a book, etc).

The accreditation is delivered by the working in the arts commission in the form of a working in the arts certificate for a period of five years. There are three types of certificates (infra). Depending on the type of certificate, you must fulfil different minimum conditions.

The working in the arts commission is composed of representatives of the professional arts sector, federal administrations, employer and self-employed organisations and employee organisations. The professional arts sector has as many mandates as all other organisations together. This responds to the arts sector’s demand for a larger representation in the working in the arts commission. The motivation for the individual decisions is held into a living register. The register provides an overview of the various criteria used to evaluate concrete artistic, artistic-technical and artistic-supporting activities and a list of activities that can match with these criteria. This register allows an objective evaluation of professional artistic, artistic-technical and artistic-supporting activities within the fields of the arts. These are audiovisual arts, visual arts, music, literature, entertainment, theatre, choreography and comics. The living register is updated on the basis of an evolving interpretation by the working in the arts commission.


For the starting self-employed art worker in a main profession, there is the scheme for primo starters. They enjoy reduced social contributions for eight quarters.

The ‘article 1bis’ regulation allows non-independent art workers without an employment contract (people who do not work under the authority of an employer) to build up social rights such as holiday pay, unemployment benefits, health insurance and pension.

In addition to the primo starters and article 1bis scheme, the working in the arts certificate plus can also give access to the additional benefits as an artworker within the unemployment regulations, such as an artwork allowance.

For starting artworkers, there is the working in the arts certificate starter. This gives access to the same benefits as the working in the arts certificate plus but under reduced requirements.

To receive an artwork allowance, it suffices that you are holder of a working in the arts certificate plus or starter and that you can prove an income of 156 days of artistic or non-artistic services in a reference period of 24 months. You are entitled to this benefit for a period of three years. After this period, you submit an application for renewal. For this, you have to prove 78 days worked in a reference period of 36 months.

The allocation of the social contribution takes into consideration the atypical working conditions of the art workers. The alternation between visible and invisible activities coupled with periods of income and periods when he is relying on benefits.

  1. the art worker is exempted from the obligation to search for work in an active manner without being actively available during the entire period in which the derogation rules apply.
  2. To take invisible work into consideration, the conditions for access to benefits have been made easier. Among other things, by reducing the number of days required to benefit from the derogation scheme. Income from non-artistic activities is fully included in the calculation of the art work benefit.
  3. Freeze on degressivity: the artist retains the highest unemployment benefit rate for for the entire application period.
  4. The possibility of cumulation of art work benefits with income not subject to social security deductions to allow greater cumulation with copyright and related rights. Cumulation is allowed up to twice the maximum applicable to other unemployed persons, being an amount of €9.441.12.

Amateur Arts Allowance

The AAV is an expense allowance on which you owe no taxes or social security contributions. The AAV may only be used for ordered artistic performances. Artistic-technical or artistic-support activities cannot use it. Only natural persons can be paid with an AAV. Before making use of the amateur arts allowance, both the art worker and the client must create a profile on the online platform, “Working in the Arts”. The art worker registers as a performer. The commissioner registers as principal. Each performance must also be registered through the same platform.

Maximum 30 days per year and maximum seven consecutive days with the same client.

Minimum €45 and maximum €70 per day and per client (+max. €20 travel expenses).

Clients who paid more than €500 per calendar year via AAV also pay a solidarity contribution of 5% to the National Social Security Office.

some terms


Someone who makes a necessary artistic contribution to an artistic creation or performance: artistic, technical-artistic, or supporting-artistic

digital platform

The ‘Working in the Arts’ digital platform will mainly be used for:

  1. The delivery of the artwork certificate.
  2. The declaration of performances, applications for registration as a performer and applications for registration as a client within the framework of the amateur arts allowance.
  3. A portal where art workers can find all information for the development of a professional practice in the sector, with a focus on the socio-economic aspects.


Half of the ‘The Working in the Arts Commission’ is composed of experts in the arts appointed by the arts federations, the other half is made up of: representatives of the federal administration; representatives appointed by interprofessional trade unions; representatives of employers organisations or trade unions of self-employed workers. The Communities may also appoint a representative.
Some of the main roles of the commission are:

  1. Issuing a ‘working in the arts certificate’. Where necessary, it can also suspend or cancel this.
  2. Informing those working in the arts of their social security rights and obligations at their request.
  3. Acting as a centre of expertise and a contact point for all socio-economic aspects of working in the arts within the federal administration.
  4. Developing and maintaining a register of activities and criteria applied by the Commission

The Certificate

The ‘Working in the Arts Certificate’ delivered by the Working in the Arts commission to a natural person who makes an artistic or technical-artistic or artistic support contribution that is necessary for the creation or performance of an artistic work.

Article 1bis

Specific subjection rule. The purpose of article 1bis is to extend the application of the social security legislation for salaried workers to persons who do not work in a relationship of authority or legal subordination. Through this rule, artists are subject to the social security of salaried workers, which is more advantageous than that of the self-employed workers.

primostarter for self-employed

Extended primostarter measure: reduction of contributions for the self-employed who start a self-employed activity.