Arts and entertainment sector dissatisfied with Budget 2021

Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association: Budget did not address ways in which sector can recover and recoup from major losses it incurred

The sector employs 5,000 people
The sector employs 5,000 people

The Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association (MEIA) was disappointed by the lack of measures specifically referencing the arts and entertainment sector in the 2021 budget. 

Posting their response to social media, the MEIA said that the arts and entertainment sectors would not settle for crumbs. 

“The industry employs 5,000 people in arts, entertainment, film and TV, amongst others. 77% of them work in the private sector and contribute to the 7.9% Gross Value Added generated by the cultural and creative sectors to Malta’s economy, exceeding the direct contribution of the construction sector and the accommodation and food services sector,” the association said.

We’re sorry for the long post but this is our official position as sent in today’s Press Release: Budget 2021: the arts...

Posted by MEIA - Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association on Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The association said while the budget is rich on social measures, it does not consider the arts and entertainment sector as drivers of economic development in a time of recovery. They said it also does not address ways in which the sector can recover in the coming three years and recoup the major losses incurred.

“The extension of the wage supplement scheme will remain an important immediate measure for our members and we reaffirm our position for the return to a full wage supplement to operators in the arts and entertainment industries,” the association said.

MEIA said that it welcomed measures for a plan to attract the digital and innovative economy such as virtual and augmented reality which underpin new areas of development for the arts and entertainment. As well as the reintroduction of the voucher scheme, however, stressed that most of their sectors remain shut down with very limited content to provide to audiences.

The association said it was concerned that the only sector-specific measures announced in the budget was a €1 million cultural assistance fund, which they said was meant to address the multiple challenges resulting from COVID-19.

“Since April 2020, numerous European countries announced significant recovery plans and funds have been rolled out weeks later. Malta’s plan has yet to be announced and Maltese artists, producers and entertainment organisers have to wait till 2021 for any possible disbursements from the cultural assistance fund. This situation continues to extend the period of uncertainty that our sector has experienced since March 2020,” they said.

The MEIA said that overall government expenditure for the cultural and creative sectors for 2021 has remained at 1.6% of the total government budget - with only a very small share in additional funding and no new sector-specific incentives announced, it said that the government was “merely providing lip service to a sector that is currently in difficulty, whilst safeguarding only its own institutions.”

The association said that if the government truly understood the importance of the creative economy, specific tax incentives such as reduced income tax rate for artists and income averaging mechanisms, as promised in the electoral manifesto, would have been announced.

“As a new association safeguarding the interests of hundreds of professionals in the arts and entertainment sectors, we reaffirm our position that the sector will not settle for crumbs,” they said.

MEIA will be calling an extraordinary general meeting on the 27 October.

More in Budget 2021