5.1.4 Social security frameworks
Until 2002, social security system did not have any special body or structure for artists and creators. In exceptional cases, grants and pensions were regularly distributed to a few Tunisian artists within the framework of assistance program for creators and of their families, which started in 1999. The Ministry allocates annually 50,000 TND for this program and reached 39 beneficiaries in 2012.
Starting from 2002, artists, creators, and intellectuals benefited from a special regime in the social security system that provided social insurance (medical care) a retirement salary system and disability compensation for professional artists. The contribution rate was set to 11% of total revenues, while for independent artists the rate was 15% (Law 2002-104 of 30th December 2002, on the social security system for artists, creators and intellectuals). Artists receive additional financial support from the Social Fund of the Tunisian Organization for the protection of authors’ rights. The Fund is financed by contributions, applied tax on the manufacture and import of blank CDs, on recordings and a portion of generated revenues from the exploitation of cultural heritage. The social security system for creative artists and intellectuals is also partially funded by the multiple taxes imposed on ticket prices (festivals, shows and music concerts) and on contracts of foreign artists. The social security system for artists excludes amateur artists, as they do not have a professional license which is a criterion for eligibility. A special committee of the Ministry of Culture is responsible for the management of applications to the system.
An evaluation of this mechanism, ten years after its establishment, indicates deficiencies that led to low participation in this system. Where the number of potential beneficiaries was expected to be 10,000 culture sector artists and creators, only a total of 2228 artists/creators/intellectuals have applied. It was found that the eligibility criterion of continuous exercise of cultural activity has contributed to this situation and also the availability of other social security system coverage for most artists.