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‘Exhausted’ Italian live events sector welcomes VAT reprieve

Italy’s live entertainment sector has welcomed the suspension of VAT payments for the nation’s businesses as it attempts to absorb the impact of an estimated loss of €40m in a single month.

Assomusica, Italy’s association of organisers and producers of live music shows, said VAT changes outlined in the government’s Cura Italia Decree rescue package would be an immediate benefit for organisers.

The body made a series of requests of the authorities earlier this week as its members deal with the impact of the coronavirus which has decimated Italian society. VAT suspension from February 23 onwards was at the top of its wish list.

The Cura Italia Decree indicates VAT will be suspended for some companies during the month of March. Assomusica is investigating how far-reaching these plans will be for its members.

Assomusica has also suggested a 12-month stop on the payment of mortgage instalments and leases for the organisers of shows, through the guarantee of the state, and tax credits for the costs of organising cancelled or postponed concerts.

Assomusica also wants extraordinary support measures for workers and cooperatives operating in the live entertainment sector, including tax exemptions.

The list of policy ideas was sent to leading politicians and legislative groups including the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Economic Development.

“We, the organisers of contemporary popular music shows, are often forgotten and yet we make the cultural industry of the country walk,” said Vincenzo Spera, Assomusica’s president.

“We really hope that President Conte and Ministers Franceschini and Gualtieri can take into consideration measures of real help to the organisers of concerts and music shows, which are now exhausted, and above all do not consider that the live show is only the one financed by the Single Fund for Entertainment (FUS) with citizens’ money.”

Assomusica claims 3,000 concerts have been postponed or cancelled due to the impact of coronavirus and social distancing since the government banned public gatherings at the start of March. Some 17% of these have been scrapped altogether.

The group said this has cost the industry €40m between the start of the outbreak and April 3 and estimates a cost of €100m to the full ecosystem including suppliers.

Meanwhile, BDKV, Germany’s promoters’ association, has requested a 365-day grace period for promoters to reschedule an event before having to refund the ticket. It said this would assist with cash liquidity.

BDKV also recommended that promoters should be able to offer ticket holders a voucher, instead of owing a cash refund, in case a rescheduling of the event is not possible.

In total Germany has pledged a €600bn rescue package for individuals and businesses. BDKV and its members welcomed government plans unveiled last week including the flexibilisation of short-time work benefits, tax liquidity aids for companies and the creation of the conditions for easier access to credit.

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