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CANNES 2018 Industria

Be Creative, Talk to the Bank!

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- CANNES 2018 (In inglese): Lucía Recalde ha aperto una conferenza all'European Film Forum dedicata alla ricerca della giusta combinazione tra fonti di finanziamento tradizionali e innovative

Be Creative, Talk to the Bank!
Gunnar Mai (a sinistra) e Florence Aviles

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

“I would like to start by quoting Albert Einstein: ‘Logic will get you from A to B; imagination will take you everywhere’,” said Creative Europe MEDIA’s head of unit, Lucia Recalde, explaining the rather mischievous title of the round-table discussion “Be Creative, Talk to the Bank!”, which was held with the participation of Gunnar Mai, head of division at the EU Guarantee Facilities of the European Investment Fund (EIF); Caroline Norbury, chief executive of Creative EnglandFlorence Aviles of IFCICPhilippe Alessandri, founder and CEO of Watchnextmedia; and Philippe Kernfounder and CEO of KEA. “That’s one of the reasons why the Cultural and Creative Sector Guarantee Facility was first established.”

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A major innovation in the public support for the cultural and creative sectors, which are usually based on grants and subsidies, the Cultural and Creative Sector Guarantee Facility was created to increase the number of loans available and to unlock brand-new funding opportunities. With a total budget of over €180 million, it aims to generate over €1 billion of additional funding for the cultural and creative industries.

“It works in a way that the Commission provides us with a certain amount of money, which the EIF earmarks for transactions with financial institutions. We can support banks in better understanding the sectors they would like to invest in, and it also allows institutions that are comfortable working in the sector to scale up,” explained Mai. Still, one of the fundamental issues in trying to increase financing is all about raising awareness.

“Investing in culture is a social investment – local people want to hear local stories and recognise local talents. In addition to creating economic roles and employment, it actually enables a better society. But economically, the cultural sector is branded as high-risk, populated by people with no business plan. We have to attack this image,” observed Kern. “The industry itself is not good at promoting itself as an industry that is good at making money. Europe is extremely competitive creatively, but we lack infrastructure. Setting up these financial instruments can help.” One of the reasons why the sector is still considered risky is the slow start involved, as it takes years to develop any given film project.

“New companies start to be profitable after five years, and then you start selling rights to other countries and other markets. Because of this slow start, some successes are unpredictable, but they do exist: take this small British company [Astley Baker Davies] that produced a show called Peppa Pig,” explained Alessandri.

“I think it’s all about changing people’s perception about returns,” added Norbury. “There is much to be done about making the case for a long-term investment that not only benefits individual investors, but also actually grows opportunities for the whole sector. Our interest and expertise lie in working with companies that are quite young. It could be through loans, or it could be through equity investments or gap financing – the outcome that we are looking for is to have this company grow. But for many investors, there is this appetite for a quick return. Which, as Philippe said, is often difficult in this type of business.”

However, as pointed out by Alessandri, VoD platforms, which have emerged in the last five years, are already changing the market. And they are doing so in a positive way. “Netflix is investing a lot, as are Amazon and Apple. Public television channels are still investing in Europe, and private networks are, too; co-productions are still alive and kicking. There is a growth in the industry, and I think it will attract the investors. But first of all, we need to explain to them that this sector is not only about growth, but is also about making hits. It’s better to have one film that is a hit, rather than 20 titles in your catalogue that don’t sell.” And avoid limiting oneself to one option.

“All of these policies can be complementary,” said Aviles, of IFCIC, the benchmark credit institution in France for the financing of cultural industries. “It’s not about one or the other, because having a whole range of tools available is much better. Each one makes the other much more efficient.” As pointed out by Marjorie Paillon, who moderated the event, the answer seems to be clear: be it in fashion or financial strategies, ultimately it’s all about mixing and matching.

(Tradotto dall'inglese)

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