On July 22 2020, PROA organized the second meeting with the stakeholders from the Spanish animation industry. Representatives of the Catalan Institute of Cultural Industries (ICEC), the Spanish Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts (ICAA) and animation producers (members of ProAnimats -Animation producers association, federated to PROA-) joined this special session. It was an opportunity to review the emergency measures undertaken by the Spanish and the Catalan governments to facilitate production amid the coronavirus crisis and discuss how to best support the animation industry in the near future.
National emergency measures
In 2019, the ICAA had already identified animation as a strategic sector to develop and mandated that its feature films program dedicate a minimum allocation of 8% to animated films. It also explored the possibility of reopening funding programs dedicated to animated series and started to promote Spanish talent in global markets. This strategy led to promotional actions at international animation festivals in Europe, and initiatives to build the presence of the Spanish animated content in Latin America. Although the pandemic has disrupted the initial plans, close collaboration with the stakeholders from the animation sector, economic and cultural public agencies has continued.
During the crisis, the Institute offered flexibility to production companies with regards to applications rules, deadlines and eligibility criteria and has enhanced tax incentives to promote investment in the audiovisual sector. The amendment to the Corporate Tax Act now allows investors to claim up to 30% tax deduction subject to a maximum of €10M with a minimum inversion of €200,000 for pre- and post- production services in animation and VFX. Certain productions, labelled as difficult, can benefit from public support exceeding 50% of their production costs. These productions include animated projects of less than €2.5M.
Regional emergency measures
In 2020, the ICEC granted €17.2 M in total to the audiovisual sector, through 12 different funding programs. To support audiovisual companies during the crisis, it created the “ICF Cultura Liquiditat Line”, a €10M emergency fund available through 80%-guaranteed loans. Efforts are being made to increase the fund to €20 M and create a line to cover bank charges. Furthermore, the ICEC enhanced its programs to support short films, international distribution, and created a fund dedicated to minority co-productions of feature films. A special €8M subsidy program has been opened to help companies from the culture sector cover structural costs incurred because of the pandemic. Flexibility has been granted to projects funded and future applicants.
For animation, the ICEC increased the production funds available from €1.3M to almost €2.5M and extended the delay for completion of funded projects from 2 to 3 years. New rules are applicable to facilitate the access of animated projects to the recently increased €200,000 development program.
The creation of two new programs, jointly funded by the ICEC and the CCMA (The Catalan Public Broadcaster) and supporting the production of fictional series and the promotion of cultural programs, was announced during the meeting. On the day of the meeting, the Parliament of Catalonia had just approved the “2020 Social Protection and Economic Reactivation Plan" to boost the audiovisual sector with the injection of €122.95M between 2021 and 2025.
Animation companies from ProAnimats report that ICAA’s and ICEC’s special measures proved very helpful to compensate for the reduced productivity and cover unexpected costs. The increase in funding and tax incentives allowed Spanish producers to improve their competitiveness vis-à-vis their co-producer partners. ICEC’s new funding program for minority international co-productions has been much appreciated.
Yet, the sector is asking ICAA to reactivate the aid for the production of animated series and the line for projects in development, which were both ended in 2011. State support is crucial to strengthen the position of Spanish companies in partnerships, be able to create and retain IP, and promote Spanish content internationally. PROA proposes to explore further international initiatives, including carrying out the Spotlight on Spain at Cartoon Forum 2022 in a mixt collaboration with ICAA and ICEC and conducting commercial missions to promote Spanish production close international partnerships.
The participants stressed the importance of maintaining on-going collaboration between all the institutions concerned to ensure coherence in initiatives and efficiently support co-production. The meeting sent a hopeful message that the governing agencies are willing to join efforts to support the audiovisual sector. Public funding to the industry is likely to increase further in 2021 and ALICE, through PROA, is now part of the decision making at a national level.