Coin among culture minister's top concerns

MADRID — Lawyer Carmen Calvo was sworn in Sunday as Spain’s culture minister for socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s government. Now the Spanish film industry is asking what she can achieve.

Calvo is determined to shake things up at the Culture Ministry.

And, as a battle-seasoned culture councilor for eight years in the Andalusian regional government, Calvo undertook bold moves such as inaugurating a Picasso museum in Malaga and bringing one of the European Union’s biggest film and TV training initiatives, the Media Business School, to Ronda.

Before the March 14 elections, Zapatero promised to make culture a priority if he gained power.

Spain’s powerful Fapae producers lobby is demanding a near doubling of Spain’s Fondo de Proteccion film subsidy fund to an annual e60 million ($72.2 million); an increase of film and TV tax breaks from 5% to 20%; the creation of completion bond companies; and the launch of state-driven investment funds targeting film and TV.

Most industryites expect Calvo’s first initiative to be a hike in Spain’s Fondo de Proteccion: Last year state film subsidies in Spain were a tenth of those in France and half those of Italy.

“To pursue an efficient culture policy, she’ll need to increase the culture ministry’s budget,” producer Andres Vicente Gomez told Daily Variety.

Introducing meaningful tax breaks could be a harder call with the decision lying with Spain’s new finance minister, the former European Union monetary affairs commissioner Pedro Solbes.

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