The Motion Picture Assn., the Independent Film and TV Alliance and 10 other international orgs have protested the Spanish government’s 8% to 21% sales tax hike on admissions to cinema theaters, live music events and legit venues.

In an open letter to Spain’s government and European parliament members, the MPA and IFTA urged Prime Ministed Mariano Rajoy’s embattled government to recalibrate Spain’s Value Added Tax (VAT) for cultural content and services at 10% as part of its 2013 budget.

The European Coordination of Independent Producers, the Federation of European Film Directors, and the Intl. Federation of Film Producers Assns. also back the letter.

The letter slams the sales tax hike, introduced Sept. 1, for “damaging the cultural sectors concerned, which has led to reduced cultural diversity and increasing piracy in the case of the cinema sector.”

The letter cites Portugal where a cinema ticket VAT hike from 6% to 13% has helped spark a 13% attendance plunge. It compared that to the Netherlands where the decision to up VAT to 19% on a range of cultural tickets, excluding cinema, was recently rescinded.

Despite the increase in ticket prices in Spain, cinema box office shot up 28.6% from Oct. 1 to Nov. 25 on a year-to-year basis, said a Rentrak Spain Tweet.

That rise is attributed to a slate of strong films. Released Oct. 11, the biggest, “The Impossible,” has become the second highest-grossing film of all time in Spain, trailing only “Avatar,” with a $50.8 million trawl through Dec. 2.

For many Spaniards, the sales tax hike has helped consolidate cinemagoing as premium-price event entertainment: Non-event pics are its largest casualties.