Seven Councils of Ministers after the declaration of the state of alarm, and after strong pressure from workers and companies dedicated to culture, the first aid arrives to “guarantee the survival of cultural structures”. The total investment of the “extraordinary aid” item will be 76.4 million euros. The most urgent measure proposed by the Royal Decree that is currently scheduled to be elevated for the approval of the Government is the immediate injection of capital. Banking entities declare cultural companies insolvent and do not grant them public money ICO loans. The Ministry of Culture and Sports, in the draft, to which EL PAÍS has had and which may still be subject to change, acknowledges that the measures taken so far “have not been as effective as might have been expected, for not guaranteeing access to the necessary financing and liquidity ”. Sources in the film industry have thanked Vice President Carmen Calvo for her encouragement to move this aid package forward.
16.25 million euros are earmarked for loans to small and medium-sized companies in the sector, to be granted by the Reciprocal Audiovisual Finance Guarantee Society SGR, a credit mediation entity that was previously dedicated to audiovisuals and which will now serve as a cog for everything the cultural sector. In addition, 3.75 million euros are included to pay the cost of opening the loans. In total, 20 million euros for CREA SGR to enable up to 750 million euros of the ICO program to help finance, distributed in six lines: audiovisual, performing arts, music industry, book industry, fine arts and other companies in the sector. Each line will receive a contribution of 40 million euros minimum.
As EL PAÍS advanced, the loan of public money was not reached by cultural companies, because cultural companies are insolvent in the eyes of banks and, in the best of cases, granted loans at 3%, double the recommended amount. by the Government. The Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, recognized the sector, in its telematic meetings, “an endemic evil”. Several cultural agents warned the finance minister and the culture minister: they need a line of soft loans, with interest at 1.5% to meet the expenses.
This injection of capital ICO is essential to face the payment of their rents and suppliers, now that they have no income from the closure of their activities in mid-March and they do not have an opening forecast either. For weeks, the minister José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes had on the table the CREA SGR project for a credit line of 10 million euros, with which up to 3,000 cultural companies could be supported, as assured by Rafael Lambea , director of CREA SGR. According to the Central Business Directory (DIRCE), the number of cultural companies amounts to 122,673.
For the first time in this health crisis, the Ministry of Culture and Sports recognizes that culture among the economic sectors “especially affected”. The set of cultural and scenic spaces “has been absolutely paralyzed, which has led its professionals to a drastic loss of income and a critical situation, given their structural fragility,” they explain. Culture now assumes that the particularities of the sector require measures that complement those of a general nature. “These singularities often rendered the generalist forecasts ineffective, both for the protection of workers and for companies, especially the self-employed and SMEs, which, in addition to the loss of liquidity, added the lack of adequate access to financing,” they now declare. For the first time, in addition, Culture points out that the crisis caused by the covid-19 affects, “in a very relevant way, women in the cultural sector.” For the performing arts and music, 28.2 million euros in extraordinary grants are approved.
Audiovisual productions do not have direct financial aid, but producers will now be advanced up to 50% of the aid. The deadlines for fulfilling the obligations of the beneficiary films are also extended by the grants already approved before the covid-19. And an important measure demanded for years by the audiovisual industry: tax incentives for foreign and national production are increased and go to 30% in the first million euros. This has been done by modifying the Corporation Tax Law. Finally, the definition of “commercial premiere” of the films is adapted “temporarily” until the theaters are shown again: premieres will be considered, temporarily, those made by streaming on audiovisual platforms or on television channels. This way they will be able to access cinema grants.
The cinematographic exhibition rooms will enjoy direct aid, with a total of 13.2 million euros. The maximum contribution scale is determined by the number of screens available in each room and ranges from 8,000 euros for rooms with one screen to 32,000 euros for rooms with more than eight.
The book sector will also have extraordinary aid for independent bookstores with an amount of 5 million euros. Never has such a high amount been approved for bookstores, although there is no purchase of books for libraries as the sector has claimed. From the Spanish Confederation of Guilds and Booksellers Associations (CEGAL) they assure that it is an “effective step” and that it will help is “to be happy”. They also increase tax benefits by 5% in personal income tax, for citizens who decide to finance cultural projects.
As for show artists (those included in the Artist’s Statute), who are not in an ERTE or contract suspension, the conditions for receiving unemployment benefit change. In this way, “extraordinary access to unemployment benefit” is enabled. This measure has been highly requested by the sector, since most of the workers do not enter aid to the self-employed, because their work does not involve labor volatility, but intermittency. Taking into account the days worked in the previous year, if they have contributed from 20 to 54, they will receive a benefit of 120 days. From 55 onwards, you go to 180 days of aid.