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Switzerland sets aside 280 million francs for culture


- The Federal Council has made public its support measures for culture and some special measures for the film industry

Switzerland sets aside 280 million francs for culture

Professionals from the cultural industries were eagerly awaiting the decisions of the Federal Council, conscious of being in a situation of extreme fragility and precariousness in this historic moment of crisis due to the Coronavirus pandemic. “Culture isn’t forgotten” assures the Federal Council, as if to reassure a sector that fears for its future after the cancellation of numerous artistic and cultural events (including cinema). A first wave of aid estimated at 280 million francs has been made available to the cultural industries for the next two months: cinema, performing arts, design, visual arts, literature, music and museums. The situation will be reassessed at the end of this period.

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The general measures, which can be applied to many film productions, include first of all partial unemployment for CDDs and employees, which has been extended and whose application procedures have been facilitated. This measure is aimed at people who have seen their work time reduced due to the cancellation or postponement of an ongoing or future production. Not only are employees in CDI eligible, but also employees in CDD and employers themselves (with a flat rate of 3,320 francs for a full time job with 100% indemnity). Freelancers can instead access the compensation for loss of earnings calculated on the basis of Old Age and Survivors Insurance payments. The daily allowances are capped at 196 francs per day, a figure considered by AROPA (French-Speaking Association of Audiovisual Production) to be very low. Many independents from the audiovisual sector also carry out other waged jobs in parallel with their artistic activity but will not have the right to accumulate allowances.

In the event that companies encounter financial difficulties to pay wages and invoices, the Confederation has also unlocked a 20 billion fund to facilitate low interest loans (0% interest up to 500,000 CHF and 0.5% between 500,000 and CHF 20 million) and for cash advances. Loans are subjected to a brief analysis of the company's financial situation and capped at 10% of the turnover. The Confederation has also blocked criminal prosecutions and suspended a certain number of taxes and fees (for example, TVA) to encourage companies' liquidity.

Among the specific aids to culture, the Confederation has entrusted Suisseculture Sociale with the mission of assigning emergency aid to artists and cultural actors in difficulty. In the cultural sphere, complementary loans are provided for up to 30% of the turnover. Among the planned measures, financial difficulties suffered due to the cancellation of a festival or the interruption of a production, for example, will be compensated up to 80% of the damage. Each canton will decide on the implementation of this aid. The OFC (Federal Office of Culture), the SRG SSR and regional foundations (Cinéforom, ZFS, etc.) have also agreed on complementary funding for projects modified due to the pandemic. The SSA and Suissimage are looking for complementary solutions to unlock funds that incorporate losses not covered by the measures already in place.

As for cinemas, Edna Epelbaum, president of the Swiss Cinema Association (ASC) claims that losses can be estimated at 60 million for the period from March to the end of May. Distributors and managers propose making films available online. Independent Lausanne distributor Outside the Box continues to release its films every Wednesday in a theatrical VOD version for 10 CHF per ticket (50% goes to the distributor and 50% to the cinema chosen by the person who purchased the ticket). The future should see more mixed releases: in cinemas and in VOD.

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(Translated from Italian)

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