VAT increase threatens exhibition sector
by Sergio Ríos Pérez
20/07/2012 - At least this time, the Spanish sector is not protesting on its own. The country’s entire cultural sector has responded to a brutal VAT increase on cinema tickets, as well as tickets for the theatre and other shows, from the reduced rate of 8% to the normal one of 21%, with surprise and worry, but also indignation, to the cry of “Culture is not a luxury.”
It looks like there is no end to the Spanish film sector’s annus horribilis. After cuts in public aid to the sector (read more), a drop in cinema attendance, and the usual almost total lack of defence against piracy, the industry’s situation is starting to look vaguely apocalyptic with this new VAT increase, to which an already very afflicted exhibition sector will surely have trouble adjusting. The latter's great spokesperson, Juan Ramón Gómez Fabra, the president of the FECE (Spanish Cinema Federation), has told the newspaper El País that the measure is tantamount to closing down the sector. “It’s impossible to take on. If prices increase, 70% of cinemas will close down the next day, and nobody will go to the cinema at all.”
With this measure, Spain has the dubious honour of becoming the only country in the Eurozone without reduced VAT for cinema tickets.
An initial idea to go on general strike has been dismissed by the FECE, as “the only thing it would achieve is to make the situation even worse and it would be detrimental to cinema-goers.” The situation has therefore evolved to “direct dialogue with the finance ministry, to convey to them what this change in VAT rates would mean for the exhibition sector.” The consequences would be “the closure of companies, and job losses,” as well as an increase in piracy as a result of “making the legal supply of films more expensive.”
(Translated from Spanish)