Budget 2022: the arts and entertainment sectors needed more than ever: drivers for economic development, cultural recovery and social wellbeing. Since its foundation in August 2020, the Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association has been Malta’s leading voice for the recovery of the arts and entertainment sectors. An industry that employs 5,000 people, 73% of them working in the private sector, contributing to the 7.9% Gross Value Added generated by the cultural and creative sectors to Malta’s economy, the sectors must once again be considered as drivers for economic development. They are also needed more than ever because they provide unique content for Malta’s tourism sector and contribute to the overall wellbeing of Malta’s residents. Whereas the sectors exceed the direct contribution of the construction sector and the accommodation and food services sectors, they have barely featured in the post- COVID and tourism strategies and left out of Malta's 10 year economic vision. MEIA calls for more significant attention to be given to the arts and entertainment sectors across different strategies and for the 2022 Budget proposes the following COVID and non-COVID related measures:
COVID MEASURES 1. Events guarantee facility Producers and promoters need to be incentivised to consider presenting new events within the ongoing changing scenarios that will be created in the coming months. In order to incentivise the production of public events within the period of restrictions and after the recovery period, a guarantee facility is being proposed which will cover costs that cannot be recouped should the event be cancelled, postponed or redesigned due to COVID measures. This is due to the fact that no insurance covers this possible scenario which has now become our reality. 2.
Seat utilisation scheme
Producers should be compensated for each seat that cannot be sold due to restrictions. 3.
Incentivise cultural consumption
Vouchers provided for retail and restaurants were not redeemed for the arts since the sector was and remains mainly inoperative. The economic performance of the arts is highly dependent on consumption. With average quarterly expenditure in the domestic market declining by 69% in 2020 (equivalent to restaurants and hotels), we resubmit our proposal to provide 2 EUR10 vouchers to every resident in Malta, redeemable exclusively for arts and entertainment, over a 12 month period. This incentive should be created as part of a national audience development strategy aimed at bringing back audiences and developing new ones.
Double investment in the COVID scheme
The EUR 1million fund for COVID schemes should be doubled to address the significant demand of project support requested in 2020. The programmes should also retain the level of aid intensity and frequency. 5.
COVID wage supplement
Retain COVID wage supplement for 6 months after all restrictions are removed, since the arts and entertainment industry require sufficient time to plan and execute and cannot fully reopen immediately after all restrictions are lifted. 6.
Temporary Exemption on Fines for TAX & VAT arears during established Grace Period.
Keeping in mind the challenging times during the pandemic we need to be sensitive to the reality of cash flow of our industry. It’s strongly recommended to offer a temporary exemption on fines for VAT and TAX arrears to be settled in full within an established one-off grace period to facilitate and regulate further this battered industry.
NON-COVID MEASURES 1. Launch the process to develop a new creative economy strategy in collaboration with industry. 2. Introduce arts on prescription to support specific health conditions such as mental health, to enhance wellbeing and quality of life, including social engagement to lessen isolation and self-exclusion, especially in the aftermath of COVID. 3. Extend the 150% tax deduction for donations by companies to cultural NGOs and PCOs to projects by private operators in the Entertainment & Arts industry. 4. Implement the pending manifesto measure for reduced income tax rate for artists. This is was electoral promise and this is the last year to fulfil that promise. 5. Implement the pending manifesto measure for an income averaging mechanism. 6. Provide rent subsidies and incentives for creative spaces. Limited private spaces and lack of public sector spaces such as studios and workshops for production, rehearsals, storage and other activities by non-public operators in the arts and entertainment sectors continue to hinder activity in the sector. Sufficient incentives must be provided for industry to fill in the gap for this lack of infrastructure. 7. Introduce a rebate for purchases of works of art. 8. Re-introduce the film co-production fund. 9. Increase investment in the internationalisation of Malta’s arts and entertainment sectors. 10. Co-invest in a digitalisation platform to create professional digital content that may be distributed online. We also propose the setting up of a task force that seeks to deliver solutions on augmented reality and innovative digital platforms for arts and entertainment by bringing together experts from the arts and entertainment, technology and the digital economy. 11. In the absence of participation in the EU’s Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility (CCS GF) by Maltese banks, the government should intervene to support the provision of
loans and a guarantee facility for startups and business development in the cultural and creative sectors. Immediate measures for responsible and ethical actions by the public sector As the divide between the public and private sectors continues to widen, exacerbated during the pandemic, creating significant disadvantages for the private sector, MEIA calls upon the Government, especially in the run up to a general election, to follow stringent public administration protocols. The industry requires a firm public commitment that vacant positions in the public sector are always filled via public calls and new positions are only created, if and when necessary, to address the needs of the industry. We are concerned that the public sector will continue to unnecessarily poach talent from the private sector to address jobs for votes. In addition, procurement of services should be retrieved in a competitive manner from private operators without creating new publicly funded structures and systems that compete against the investments made by private operators. These malpractices must be addressed and obliterated once and for all.