The bulk of AVEK’s funding comes from the compensation for private copying, the level of which is decided in the state budget. In the Ministry of Finance’s draft budget published on Friday, the level of the compensation for private copying was proposed to be cut from €11 million to €7 million. This is despite the fact that the Ministry of Education and Culture proposed keeping the level of compensation unchanged.
Of the total amount of the compensation for private copying, approximately €2.5 million has been channelled through AVEK to the audiovisual industry each year. The money has been used to support the creation of new works, continuing education, internationalisation, festivals and events.
Works supported by AVEK that were completed last year include e.g. the documentary Aalto directed by Virpi Suutari, Antti Holma’s short film Kill Anneli and Maija Blåfield’s award-winning experimental documentary The Fantastic. Many of the films by Cannes-winner Juho Kuosmanen have also been supported by AVEK.
For AVEK’s operations, the proposed cut would mean that the funds distributed would be cut in half. Through AVEK, the impact extends to audiovisual production companies, authors, jobs and works.
‘Such a big cut in our support funds would mean cutting out some area of support altogether. We would no longer be able to cover the many areas that no one else has supported: emerging festivals, continuing education, and internationalisation of media artists, not to mention the many great applications for the creation of new works,’ says Ulla Simonen, Director of AVEK.
Audiovisual industry’s concerns fall on deaf ears
Over the summer, the future of AVEK has been a source of great concern for the audiovisual industry. The funds from the compensation for the current year were confirmed very late, only in mid-June, and the level of compensation for future years remains uncertain.
In June, AV-arkki and the Finnish Documentary Guild published a declaration on the future of AVEK, supported by more than 100 audiovisual operators. A petition was then opened to the public, which gathered almost a thousand signatures. The petitions were submitted to the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Education and Culture in early August. AVEK’s importance to the film and culture industry was also publicly defended by a number of industry professionals.
The declaration underlined the important role of AVEK in the scene of audiovisual culture: ‘AVEK operates with a flexible and artist-driven approach, and even the small individual grants awarded by it often enable the growth of major artistic projects and help open up international avenues.’ The petition also pleaded for AVEK’s funding for the coming years and beyond: ‘Continuity and predictability should be taken into account in the reform of the compensation for private copying and in next year’s state budget.’
‘We are extremely grateful and moved by the support we have received,’ says AVEK Director Simonen.
‘The Ministry of Finance’s budget plan shows that the voice of the audiovisual industry has not been heard. The dramatic cut in the compensation for private copying without reforming the system as promised in the government programme is incredibly short-sighted. We need continuity, predictability and a stable support system in order to allow audiovisual culture to develop in Finland. Fortunately, this shocking mistake can still be rectified in the budget session.’
The government’s budget session will take place on 7–9 September.