On April 10, the Ministry of Culture reiterated that the movie theater industry will be considered as "closed" for the sake of relief efforts due to the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that they are not only eligible for already enacted relief subsidies, but also for the upcoming "Arts and Culture Relief 2.0 (藝文紓困2.0)" package. This package includes a new subsidy plan for staff pay and operating costs in the performing arts, cinema, publishing, and music performance industries, focusing especially on operators suffering more than 50% losses in turnover or being rendered unable to continue operations.
This plan is built on the ministerial cooperation principle that underpins the Executive Yuan's "100 Billion to Support Employment (千億挺就業)" project. As long as there are no layoffs, no unpaid leave, and no more than 20% in pay cuts, 40% of employee pay will be subsidized each month up to a cap of NT$20,000. This financial assistance will continue for three months, and also includes a one-time operating capital subsidy for the business itself. The Ministry of Culture stressed that the staff and their families should be a priority consideration for relief subsidies, and it is hoped that businesses will do all they can to take care of their employees during these trying times.
Regarding the request of some in the movie theater industry for the government to order their closure, the Ministry of Culture said that in accordance with the "Special Statute For Prevention, Relief And Restoration For Severe Pneumonia With Novel Pathogens (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例)," the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) will do what it must, and that at present theaters are required to work within CECC response guidelines. Local governments may also, per the "Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法)," set restrictions on mass assemblies.
While the CECC guidelines have focused on risk assessment for indoor public gatherings of 100 or more people, restricting audience numbers to within 100 is essentially the same as being unable to function, according to movie theater operators. As such, the Ministry of Culture will consider theaters closed due to the pandemic for relief efforts.
Under the "Arts and Culture Relief 1.0 (藝文紓困1.0)" plan, the Ministry of Culture had won the inclusion of the arts and culture sectors in the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Small and Medium Enterprise Administration's relief loan and interest subsidy scheme, providing extensions for businesses with existing loans, loans to assist with operating capital and stimulus measures, and interest payment subsidies.
However, the original NT$80-million upper limit for this scheme is no longer able to meet the needs of movie theaters. As such, in the proposed 2.0 plan, the Ministry of Culture has opened up the inclusion of larger enterprises in culture and the arts under the Ministry of Economic Affairs' "Inter-Ministerial Funding Guarantee for NT$80 million+ (跨部會八千萬元以上大型融資保證提撥)" program.
Apart from including movie theaters and the cinema industry in relief plans, the Ministry of Culture hopes to establish a consultation mechanism focusing on made-in-Taiwan films and their screening opportunities after the current crisis has passed.
This would include a boost in domestic film screenings from the current 10% to 20% within three years, along with regular negotiations over the next two or three years with industry representatives on how to revitalize the Taiwanese film market. Should domestic film production dip below a certain quota, new negotiations could take place the following year.
Read the original press release here.