Confindustria Cultura calls on the government for urgent measures to support culture. Here are the suggested interventions

Confindustria Cultura Italia (CCI), the Italian cultural industry federation that brings together the associations of publishing (AIE), music (AFI, FIMI, PMI), cinema and audiovisual (ANICA, APA, UNIVIDEO), and cultural heritage services (AICC), is calling on the government for urgent and immediate measures to support the entire cultural sector in the wake of the coronavirus emergency. Ignazio Cipolletta, president of Confidustria Cultura, sent a letter addressed to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and sent to the premier, Economy and Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri, Cultural Heritage Minister Dario Franceschini and Economic Development Minister Stefano Patuanelli.

The measures are made urgent given the data that keeps coming in. Beyond the fact that museums, cinemas and theaters are, as is well known, completely at a standstill as a result of the March 8 decree imposing the closure of all activities where gatherings of all kinds take place, there are cancellations of online bookings for exhibitions and museums in the order of 70 percent, and the cancellation of as many as 7,400 live shows (which translates into losses of revenue of 10.5 million euros for musical events alone). What’s more, sales declines of 25 percent for books (with spikes of 70 percent in the areas most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak) and a 75 percent collapse in movie receipts over the last opening weekend (324,000 people barely went to the movies).

However, the damage is of a different order: we are not only talking about lost receipts. As far as the cinema is concerned, there are the economic ones related to the exit from the market of products already made, those resulting from the suspension, or cancellation, of imminent and important releases, there is the blocking of existing productions as a result of orders to close locations where sets are planned, with damage from rising costs on filmmaking expenses caused by indefinable delays, there is the inability to plan and start productions planned for later in the year. As for the distribution sector, there is the loss of investments already established and made for the launching of the release of national and international films, there are costs for advertising promotion, for the production of theatrical communication materials, for the creation and sending of digital media suitable for reproduction in cinemas, both for future films and for those already in distribution and affected by the current situation. For technical companies, the damages concern the lack of services, which are also slowing down the dubbing activity, due to the blocking of existing productions and the inability to plan and start the productions planned for later in the year.

What could be the interventions? Confidustria Cultura suggests some: measures to ensure liquidity for companies, such as the suspension of the payment of social security contributions and taxes, and greater attention by the banking system for access, to credit; redundancy funds for workers of companies in the sector even where not already provided for; certainty of prompt payments by the public administration. These general interventions, Confidustria further argues, must be combined with urgent specific measures to support the demand for cultural products to avert the risk that contingent changes in consumption behavior will become structural once the emergency is over.

Individual associations that are members of Confidustria also suggest several other measures. AICC, for example, points out as priority interventions the recognition of a state of crisis for the sector, the layoff fund for workers in companies in the sector, the temporary abolition of VAT non-deductibility mechanisms, the suspension of the payment of taxes and contributions due to reduced receipts from museums, exhibitions and activities cultural activities (not only in the red zones, not only in the regions affected by the ordinances, but all over the country where cancellations and missed bookings are being recorded due to the effect induced by the crown virus emergency), postponement of payments of receipts to public principals to cope with refunds of admission and reservation fees from both domestic and foreign users, the of current tenders and blocking of new ones until the market situation has stabilized. The film associations suggest suspension of social security contribution obligations, recognition of an economic allowance for self-employed workers not protected by income support tools, introduction of the Wage Guarantee Fund as an exception to the current regulations, covering all companies and all employees not recipients of the ordinary income support tools, suspension of tax and levy payments, non-refundable contribution to distributions for investments already made and planned for released and soon-to-be-released films, non-repayable contribution (or in the form of investment support) to compensate for the slump in box office at movie theaters.

“The effects of the spread of the virus on companies and workers in the sector,” Cipolletta wrote in the letter addressed to Conte, Gualtieri, Franceschini, and Patuanelli, “is significant and worrying. The drastic drop in sales of cultural products, books, music, and DVDs, the cancellation of concerts, the cancellation of exhibitions and cultural visits with museum attendances not reaching 20 percent of those normally registered, the cancellation of festivals and fair events, the closure of movie theaters, the suspension of national and international audiovisual productions, and in general the freezing of activities or initiatives already planned are in fact generating very significant economic damage throughout the country, disrupting investments and development of the industries for this year and, probably, for those to come as well, and generating a liquidity crisis for companies in the sector.”

“What the cultural enterprises are facing,” the president of Confidustria Cultura continues, “now has the character of a real calamity, on a par with what is happening to many other enterprises operating in Italy, which could produce structural damage with the risk of bending a system of enterprises that is strategic for the future of the country, for the preservation of its heritage, and the dissemination of culture, which is essential not only for the Italian economy but for the very quality of life. This part of the crisis that the Italian system is going through must also be addressed in an emergency logic, with urgent interventions to contain its effects in the short and medium term.”

Pictured: Parma, the Teatro Regio

Confindustria Cultura calls on the government for urgent measures to support culture. Here are the suggested interventions
Confindustria Cultura calls on the government for urgent measures to support culture. Here are the suggested interventions

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