News from Italy / April 2021
Updated: Jun 20, 2021
In Italy, the restrictive measures due to Covid-19 prohibiting public performances are being extended. However, streaming performances are allowed and the most important foundations are organizing their opera and symphonic seasons in this direction. The lack of legislation in this sense is lamented, as this type of performance is unprecedented in Italy: the technical means of the theatres and the budget are such that there are a few days of rehearsals followed by a "live" première that is recorded, without any corrections, and repeated on the theatre's official channels in the following days. Therefore, from a qualitative point of view, the performance is always subject to risk, especially because the soloists have just come out of a long period of inactivity. From the point of view of remuneration, everything is left to the individual negotiations of the agencies: on average, a fee is paid for 2 performances and there are no fees for related rights for television broadcasting. From a health point of view, no contagions are recorded among the professionals involved, thanks to the very scrupulous health measures to which they are subjected and the use of protective equipment even during rehearsals.
Worrying news comes from Naples and Turin, where the new intendants (Lissner and Purchia), for different reasons, continue to cancel productions established by their predecessors with artistic contracts already signed and announce other titles to replace them but without relocating the artists left at home. Assolirica is following these colleagues through the legal department of a consulting lawyer and legal cases are starting. In the meantime, the Government has allocated funds for workers in the entertainment industry for the January-March 2021 quarter, amounting to €800 per month, provided that they did not earn more than €75,000 in 2020; it has also allocated other funds for freelancers who suffered a loss of earnings of at least 30% in 2020 compared to 2019. The two allowances are cumulative and do not constitute taxable income for contribution purposes.
RECENT WORK BY THE ASSOCIATION
Assolirica was recently invited by the Minister of Cultural Heritage to take part in a round table, together with other professional organizations in the performing arts. A proposal to reform the performing arts sector has been presented, including a "discontinuity income", based on the French model of the "Intermittence du spectacle" (whoever has accrued at least 51 days of work and contribution payments in the previous year is entitled to receive 80% of the average income of the previous two years, which becomes 85% if there are ≥ 80 days).
Assolirica set up a working table with ATIT (Association of Tradition Theatres) and ARIACS (Italian Association of Agencies) to draw up a "Document of Intent" since there is still a long way to go to renew the contract for the category. With this document, the theatre administrations commit themselves to:
- send the contracts already signed by the Intendant to the artists. For many people, this may seem logical and obvious, but in Italy, we can assure you that this signature usually arrives later, often on the very first day of rehearsals;
- the obligation of the engaged artist to return the countersigned contract within a short period, even electronically with an electronic signature;
- limitation of vexatious clauses still present in contracts, especially the one concerning cancellation due to Covid, which has been further tightened since the start of the pandemic;
- prohibition of the new intendants taking over, from changing the choice of titles and artistic scripts already established and made official by the previous intendants, to safeguard the workers already employed.
It should be emphasized that the Fondazione Arena di Verona has started to include in its employment contracts a per diem for rehearsals amounting to €100 per day. This is new for Italy and creates an important precedent to be used for the future, to partly protect the workers' compensation both in case of cancellations and illness. Furthermore, the Macerata Opera Festival has started to include in its contracts a compensation clause in case of cancellation due to covid, equal to the payment of one performance. This clause is possible for Theatres of Tradition such as Macerata, but not for the Lyric-Symphonic Foundations, which therefore have not granted any reimbursement in case of cancellation, since foundations are not allowed to pay for performances that did not take place, and if they did, they would be inspected by the Court of Auditors. There is a legislative vacuum that after one year of the pandemic has still not been filled. On the other hand, the lyrical-symphonic foundations have received ministerial subsidies for 2021 equal to those for 2020, even though they have carried out very little programming.