What We Need Now Is Systemic Change

A panel discussion on freelancing in the arts without an EU-passport during the Corona crisis. Thursday, July 9th 2020, 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.


On the Situation of Freelance Art Workers with Limited Residence Permits in the EU during the Corona Pandemic: Germany + the Netherlands

Thursday, July 9, 2020, 4 – 6:30 p.m.
Video conversation
Online, Onsite, Live



Jeremy Bierbach, attorney, specialized in non-asylum immigration to the Netherlands, Franssen Advocaten, Amsterdam
Iris Dressler, director of the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart
Sepp Eckenhaussen, Platform BK
Sebastian Hoffmann, touring artists help desk service, Berlin
Katia Krupennikova, freelance curator, Amsterdam

To support the freelancers in the Netherlands, the Dutch government created a temporary subsidy for freelancers (Tijdelijke overbruggingsregeling zelfstandig ondernemers, or Tozo) on March 17, 2020. This subsidy consists of monthly payments of 1,000 euros for an individual and 1,500 euros for a partnership/family. This support was originally meant for freelancers who are EU citizens or who are non-EU citizens holding a permanent residence permit. Not until a month later, and after several open letters and petitions calling for urgent action, was it finally also extended to those who hold non-permanent residence permits for the purpose of self-employment.

However, another unsettling aspect remains undefined. By Dutch law, non-EU freelancers must earn over 15,000 euros per person each year (1,270.08 euros a month, as of July 2020) to keep their legal status in the country. The risk of not meeting the income requirements of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) is that a non-permanent residence permit for the purpose of self-employment might not be renewed, and the freelancer would have to leave the country. The Dutch government has still not communicated any policy on this issue.

The Württembergischer Kunstverein, within the framework of its Shutdown Program and the series What We Now Need Is Systemic Change, will address the special challenges that freelancers from non-EU countries are facing during the corona pandemic in Europe. In concrete terms, this will be discussed by example of the Netherlands and Germany. In the latter case, the legal situation varies in the different German states. The State Office for Immigration in Berlin, for example, has issued general rulings, which are only valid for non-EU nationals registered in Berlin and which concern issues such as the access to basic social security (ALG II).

Participants in the discussion, which will be moderated by Iris Dressler and Katia Krupennikova, are Jeremy Bierbach, Sepp Eckenhaussen, and Sebastian Hoffmann.

Jeremy Bierbach is an attorney in Amsterdam specialized in non-asylum immigration to the Netherlands. He is associated with the niche law firm Franssen Advocaten, advises expats (many of them from the cultural field) concerning their rights as immigrants in the Netherlands, and supports them in changing their immigration status to obtain stronger rights. He will outline the position of the non-EU freelancers in the Netherlands and will specifically focus on the problematic policies during the current pandemic period.

Sepp Eckenhaussen is the co-director of Platform BK, an association of cultural workers in the Netherlands. He will speak about the working conditions and the fee system for cultural freelancers in the Netherlands, and also about the role of Platform BK and unions in taking action.

Sebastian Hoffmann works for touring artists, an information portal for all artists and creatives working internationally. It provides comprehensive information on visas / residency, artist status and contracts, transport / customs, taxes, social security, other insurance, and copyright law.

As a starting point of our discussion, we will speak about the working conditions of freelance art workers, especially from non-EU states, in Germany and the Netherlands. We will extend the conversation to current activities of Platform BK, Franssen Advocaten, and touring artists regarding immigration policies in the cultural field.

The event will take place on Thursday, July 9, 2020, starting at 4 p.m., in collaboration with the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, online and onsite at both locations.

An event by
Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart
Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam


Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, Schlossplatz 2, 70173 Stuttgart
Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Sarphatistraat 470, 1018GW, Amsterdam

Limited number of participants
Online: 50 / Onsite: 20 at each venue

Registration at
(Bitte geben Sie an, ob Sie Online oder Onsite teilnehmen möchten)



Jeremy Bierbach, Franssen Advocaten
Jeremy Bierbach (1975) is originally from Pittsburgh in the United States. Jeremy graduated from Georgetown University in Washington in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in linguistics. After working for several years as an ICT specialist, Jeremy emigrated to the Netherlands in 2001. In 2003, Jeremy changed his career direction and started studying law at the University of Amsterdam, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in law (Dutch law) in 2006 and a master’s degree in constitutional and administrative law. He worked as a legal advisor on immigration law at Avocado Legal. On January 8, 2014 he was sworn in as a lawyer at Franssen Advocaten, and on September 2, 2015, he obtained his PhD at the University of Amsterdam for his dissertation on EU citizenship. His book, Frontiers of Equality in the Development of EU and US Citizenship, was published by TMC Asser Press in 2017. Jeremy is a member of both the Working Group on Legal Aid in Immigration Affairs and the Specialist Association for Migration Lawyers. His specialty is invoking standards of international law, in particular EU law, as a source of protection for members of minorities who are unrepresented or underrepresented in the democratic process, such as EU citizens, their family members and other immigrants to the Netherlands are not EU citizens. He acted as agent of two non-EU citizens, P. and S., in a lawsuit against the Dutch state about the fines they were threatened with if they failed to pass the civic integration examination in time. The underlying legal issues of EU law were ultimately referred to and answered by the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2015, since then the Netherlands may not simply impose a fine for failing to pass the integration exam without all personal circumstances in to consider.

Platform BK, Amsterdam
Platform BK is an association of cultural workers in the Netherlands, that researches the role of art in society and takes action for a better art policy. It represents artists, curators, designers, critics and other cultural producers.

Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam
The Rijksakademie is a residency programme for contemporary visual artists from all continents.  In the two-year residency program 50 artists have access to an extensive arsenal of facilities and network, and work on research, experiment and production of new work. A unique community at the forefront of the visual arts, making an important contribution to the cultural field.

touring artists, Berlin
touring artists is a joint project of the Internationale Gesellschaft der Bildenden Künste (IGBK), the International Theatre Institute in Germany (ITI), the German Dance Association (Dachverband Tanz), initiated and supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM). With the project “International Artists Information Berlin”, touring artists provides additional information and orientation about the German cultural landscape as well as information on the legal framework for artistic practice in Germany and the necessary prerequisites to work here as an artist or creative – especially for artists from countries outside of the EU. touring artists provides a free help desk service for individual consultations (in cooperation with SMartDe – Netzwerk für Kreative e. V.). touring artists primarily maps the circumstances, legal regulations, and administrative procedures in Germany – for foreign artists and creatives who work here temporarily and for German artists/creatives or artists/creatives who live in Germany and who work abroad for a limited time. It also considers the perspective of Germany-based organizers. The website is available in English and German.

About Platform BK

Platform BK researches the role of art in society and takes action for a better art policy. We represent artists, curators, designers, critics and other cultural producers.