Starting January 1, 2024, the Belgian arts sector will see significant improvements in social protection for its workforce, aiming to streamline processes and reduce administrative burdens.

"Finally, we're being acknowledged as a fully integrated sector," emphasized Michaël Pas from the Belgian Actors Guild in an interview with VRT NWS.

Replacing the existing artist status, the new 'work certificate' will serve as a gateway to various social benefits for individuals engaged in artistic, artistic-technical, or artistic-supporting roles in the arts, whether on stage or behind the scenes.

This certification offers tailored advantages within the realm of social security, such as ensuring income continuity during periods of unemployment between projects—a frequent occurrence for artists navigating from one engagement to another. To maintain eligibility, individuals will now be required to submit a dossier every five years.

Simplicity and efficiency are at the core of these reforms. Social Affairs Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) highlighted the need for the government to acknowledge the distinct contribution of artists in a swiftly evolving landscape. He described the work certificate as a model for modern social security, emphasizing its adaptability and tailored support for evolving artistic practices.

Crucially, these reforms were shaped in collaboration with artists themselves, who contributed insights, identifying issues and proposing solutions through an online platform.

Expressing contentment with the revamped system, actor and president of the actors' guild, Michaël Pas, summarized the change as a move toward simplification. "It's now more accessible and transparent for everyone involved—be it the artist applying for unemployment benefits or the evaluators handling the cases."

Moreover, the benefits extend beyond artists to encompass individuals working behind the scenes, such as lighting and set designers. Even those pursuing artistic careers as self-employed individuals will enjoy the advantages of certification, including a temporary reduction in social security contributions. Photo by Frood, Wikimedia commons.