Rome Opera crisis: IAEA issues a protest letter

OPEN LETTER TO THE BOARD OF THE ROME OPERA THEATRE, THE MUNICIPALITY OF ROME AND THE GOVERNMENT OF ITALY

The three International Federations representing workers in the Arts and Entertainment sector call upon the Board of the Rome Opera Theatre to reverse its decision to dismiss all orchestra musicians and choir members.

The International Federation of Musicians (FIM), the International Federation of Actors (FIA), UNI – Media, Entertainment & Arts (UNI MEI) and their member organisations in more than 120 countries were extremely shocked to learn about the decision of the Board of the Rome Opera to terminate the contracts of all the orchestra musicians and choir members of this institution, in a disgraceful act of cultural vandalism. This decision is short-sighted, totally inappropriate from a management and labour point of view and extremely dangerous from an artistic perspective.

The three signatory federations wish to also vigorously denounce the wrongful assertions made by the Board to justify its decision. Contrary to its affirmations, no other European capital has made the mistake of outsourcing the artistic human resources of such an emblematic institution as the Rome Opera. It is common knowledge that the personality of an orchestra, its mastery of a vast repertoire with the required level of performance and, finally, its international reputation rely on its own, permanent artists as well as on years of daily collective and individual practice. No professional involved in opera or orchestra management can seriously recommend trading a permanent orchestra of international reputation against a non-existent, hypothetical, external entity.

What is at stake is not only the jobs of 182 skilled, dedicated artists and the livelihoods of their families. It is also about delivering a fundamental service of the highest possible quality to all music lovers in Italy and beyond. Decades of patient work are necessary to build a world-class institution like the Rome Opera. One wrong, hasty decision suffices to irrevocably break it. Italy gave the art of opera to the world. It would be a tragedy if the capital of opera’s homeland was to give up its own culture and unique heritage.

FIM, FIA and UNI MEI strongly believe that a different solution to the current crisis can be found. To this end, they urge the Rome Opera Board, the Municipality of Rome and the Italian Government to immediately announce the reinstatement of all dismissed artists and to enter into a genuine, professional and open-minded negotiation excluding any form of outsourcing. The international music community would not understand if the Italian Government, which currently holds the Presidency of the European Union, did not take all necessary measures to ensure that the brutal, anti-cultural decision of the Rome Opera Board be overturned.

Support to symphony and opera music, theatre, dance and ballet, which are a precious and fragile part of the world’s cultural heritage, is a prime responsibility of national, regional and local governments. The conscious, voluntary destruction of a pillar of Italian culture cannot be an option.

FIM, FIA and UNI MEI stand ready to facilitate the resumption of negotiations with a view to reaching a reasonable compromise, in the interest of all parties concerned.


Together, FIM, FIA, and UNI-MEI form the International Arts and Entertainment alliance (IAEA). This global sectoral alliance is a member of the Council of Global Unions and the ETUC and is a recognised European social partner organsation

Private copying – FIA, FIM and UNI-MEI contest the conclusions of the European mediator

FIA, FIM and UNI-MEI have reacted very negatively to the recommendations put forward on the 31 January 2013 by Mr. António Vitorino, the mediator chosen by the European Commission regarding the private copying issue.

In this document, Mr. Vitorino unexpectedly reflects the discourse of manufacturers and importers of recording media who want to avoid paying the levy which is currently required of them, regardless of the fact that, for many years, these multinationals have made considerable profits from the sale of blank media as a result of the countless acts of consumers copying protected contents.

In Spain, where these industries have recently obtained from Mr Rajoy’s government the replacement of the levy by a symbolic contribution from the State, the prices of supports have not dropped one iota, which means that consumers continue to pay the same amount, to the exclusive benefit of multinationals, while creative professionals are henceforth deprived of an essential source of income.

In our opinion, Mr. Vitorino’s proposals are based on a mistaken analysis of the existing mechanisms of compensation. Although certain questions such as double payment doubtless call for practical solutions to be found, their relatively marginal impact does not justify questioning a balanced compensation infrastructure which is at the core of creators’ rights and constitutes a legitimate portion of their revenues.


Download the FIA-FIM-UNI-MEI joint statement

First meeting of the IAEA programme of activities in India

The IAEA alliance’s programme of activities for the audiovisual sector in India started on the 25 and 26 March 2013, with a seminar in Mumbai which brought together a dozen or so unions representing different sector professions.

Coordinated on site by Mr. Opender Chanana, the programme is backed by LO-TCO (Sweden), which is also an IAEA partner for capacity-building activities in Africa and Latin America.

Despite the personal commitment of their leaders, all volunteers, trade unions in the live performance and audiovisual sectors are not in a position to promote the process of social dialogue which the sector needs. The already existing memorandum of understanding and legal provisions in the field of contracts are currently unheeded, doubtlessly in part because of the absence of professional permanent staff in these unions.

The programme will be continuing in 2013 with a more in-depth definition of the needs and priorities expressed by the unions concerned, with a view to giving concrete follow-up to these recommendations between 2014-2016, within the framework of a new project.

Participants at the Mumbai seminar unanimously adopted a declaration demanding rapid ratification by the Indian government of the Beijing Treaty protecting audiovisual performances.


Download the Mumbai declaration

Artists’ peaceful protest march harshly repressed in Yaoundé (Cameroon)

Anne-Marie Nzié

In agreement with right holders (performers, authors and composers), the Cameroonian Government recently decided the creation of a special deposit account allowing copyright users to pay royalties before the such royalties are transferred to the duly authorized collective management organisations.

Meanwhile, the Port of Douala, which had so far been refusing to proceed to any payment for the use of copyright and neighboring rights, suddenly decided to send those payments to the former management of the Cameroon Music Corporation, which is no longer legally authorized to collect these monies. In protest against this violation of the Government’s decisions, the Musicians Trade Union of Cameroon (SYCAMU) duly informed the authorities about its intention to demonstrate.

On Nov. 8th, 2012, SYCAMU thus organized a peaceful march, which was harshly repressed by several hundreds of police members and elite troops ESIR, by order of the Delegate General to national security. More than 500 artists were thrown to the ground and beaten as if they were dangerous criminals, including 85 year-old female singer Anne-Marie Nzié (see picture). 63 of them were detained in custody for more than 7 hours without being charged.

A number of SYCAMU representatives were brutalized and are still under threat today. In particular, Mr Roméo Dika, SYCAMU President and FIM Vice-President, is still accused in some media of having attempted an insurrection, which may be sentenced by life imprisonment or death penalty.

We call upon all musicians and their trade unions around the world to write to Mr Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon, so that he makes sure that the artists concerned are not subject to any further violence and that the provisions aiming at guaranteeing that artists receive their legitimate payments are fully respected.

Please sign the petition!

Social partners issue joint opinion on EU Audiovisual Observartory

Social partners in the audiovisual sector issue a joint opinion highlighting the needs of the film and TV industry for reliable and updated statistics on economy and employment market.

At its meeting today the EU social partners in the European audiovisual sector adopted a joint opinion on the role of the European Audiovisual Observatory. Employers and unions call on the Observatory and its stakeholders including the European Commission, Member States to endeavour to add economic and employment statistics to the Observatory’s range of statistical and data aggregation activities.

The AV SDC recognises the pivotal role of the European Audiovisual Observatory in providing reliable and independent statistics for the benefit of the EU audiovisual sector as well as for public authorities. The AV SDC also wishes to stress the potential contribution of such statistics in throwing light on the elements at stake in current and future European political debates affecting the audiovisual sector.

Download the joint opinion

World Public Service Day

The value of public service broadcasting and public support for culture

On this important World Day of Public Services, the International Arts and Entertainment Alliance (IAEA – the Global Union Federation for the Arts and Entertainment sector) reiterates the value of public support for cultural services and institutions, as well as for public service broadcasting, as a vital means to bring cultural content to the public.

Public investment in, and support for, cultural services and institutions fostering cultural traditions and allowing them to continue to flourish, develop and evolve in new directions through the creation of new works and performances. Maintaining high standards of excellence in the cultural field requires public investment to allow ambitious production. It equally creates the scope to allow the performing arts to continue to function as a cradle for experimentation, creativity and innovation, as the vital core of the cultural and creative industry sector. It is a fundamental right of citizens to have access to and to participate in the vibrant cultural life of their societies. This means maintaining a high level of quality cultural services, reflecting the cultural, linguistic, territorial differences of the country where it is made, and ensuring that accessible to all of society. Decent employment and working conditions are a vital part of ensuring that the sector will be sustainable and attractive in the long-term.

Public broadcasting has an important role in providing access and participation in public life. For many people the public service broadcaster in their country is the main source of information about politics, cultural events and wider society. UNESCO is committed to supporting and promoting public broadcasting to serve the interests of the people as citizens and not as consumers. Public service broadcasters reach much of the population and also minority groups, thus contributing to social inclusion and the improvement of civil society. Therefore, the public broadcaster should have the following functions: Universality, diversity, independence and impartiality, innovation, wide coverage, high technical quality, and high production levels. The public broadcaster should make programmes which reflect the cultural, linguistic, territorial differences of the country in which it broadcasts.

The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, argues that the signatories “may take measures to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions within their territory”, including through actions to “provide opportunities for domestic cultural activities, goods and services among all those available within the national territory for the creation, production, dissemination, distribution and enjoyment of such domestic cultural activities, goods and services”; as well as “to promote the diversity of media, including through public service broadcasting principles” The IAEA firmly believes that these principles and their value should be strongly recalled in the context of reflection on the wider value of public services.

Public services including public service broadcasting and cultural services in many countries have suffered serious cuts as response to the financial and sovereign debt crisis. Governments and the International Monetary Fund bring about stringent austerity policies programs in many countries. The failures of the international financial markets, the key players as well as austerity policies harm employment, creativity, access to quality cultural production, cultural diversity, pluralistic information and democracy.

Therefore, the trade unions, representing workers in the arts and entertainment sector across the world, endorse the importance of public funding for culture and of public service broadcasting for democracy and for our societies. We therefore ask that all countries commit themselves to the defence of these sectors, ensuring adequate funds to fulfil the objectives that we have set out above. It must be a fundamental right of citizenship to have access to a rich and diverse cultural offers, as well as a pluralistic media with many opinions and voices. Otherwise, if these are allowed to wither away through lack of funding, we will lose an important voice in society. A plurality of voices is important for an open democratic country.

We call on the citizens of the world to:

  • Resist all attempts to destroy publicly funded cultural institutions and services; public television, radio and the internet.
  • Cherish and Support the cultural sector and the cultural tradition and its accessibility to all in their own country
  • Cherish and Support public broadcaster in their own country and see it as a valuable service providing information and cultural entertainment for all
  • Embrace and support these vital sectors
  • Think that democracy is never enough. Fight for more
  • Realize that every conquered democratic right is useful to the struggle for more democracy.
  •  

Iran – Stop the execution of Abdolreza Ghanbari

Abdolreza Ghanbari

Abdolreza Ghanbari, a 44-year-old lecturer of Payam e Nour University, was arrested at his home in Pakdasht on 4 January 2010. He was charged with Moharebeh (enmity towards God) for receiving unsolicited emails from an armed opposition group, to which he does not belong. While in detention at the notorious Evin Prison, Prof. Ghanbari was interrogated for 25 days in a row and forced to confess under duress to unproven charges. Nasrin Sotoudeh was his lawyer until he was himself condemned to a six year sentence in Evin prison for “propaganda against the regime” and “acting against national security”.

In 2007, Prof. Ghanbari had already been detained for 120 days and sentenced to a six-month suspension from teaching and exiled from Sari to Pakdasht. Prof. Ghanbari has no known political connections. He was previously involved in teacher union activities until his union ITTA was dissolved in 2007.

Prof. Ghanbari’s death sentence has been confirmed by Tehran’s Appeal Court, Branch 36 in April 2010. He has since been waiting on death row. A request for pardon was rejected on February 28 by the Commission of Justice in Tehran. It means that authorities are allowed to proceed with the execution.

The Education International calls on the Iranian authorities to stay the execution of Prof. Abdolreza Ghanbari and revoke the death sentence; to drop all charges against all detained trade unionists and release them immediately; to comply with the international labour standards and respect the rights of Iranian workers to freedom of association, assembly and expression.

Sign the petition!

URGENT CALL FOR SOLIDARITY

URGENT: SIGN THE PETITION IN SOLIDARITY WITH IRANIAN ACTRESS MARZIEH VAFAMEHR

Dear colleagues,

You may have recently read in the press about Marzieh Vafamehr.

Marzieh is an actress in her own country, Iran. She was sentenced to one year in jail and 90 lashes for playing in a feature film the role of an young actress living in Teheran whose show is banned by authorities and who, in order to continue to express herself artistically, is condemned to live an underground existence. The film clearly denounces the hurdles and humiliation that artists regularly have to face in Iran to express their opinion against the establishment. We understand that many in Iran watched the film through informal channels as the government had not authorised its screening.

The film, an Australian-Iranian coproduction, was strongly criticized by the conservative press and led to imprisonment of Marzieh Vafamehr and recently to this sentence, which she is determined to appeal.

We are trying to collect as many signatures as possible for a petition to Mr. Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We would be grateful if you could encourage your members to join this petition, thus supporting this campaign for freedom of expression and human rights.

The petition is available on line at: http://www.equityfoundation.org.au/newsbites/actors-equity-calls-for-the-release-of-marzieh-vafamehr.html

We thank you in advance for your help and support.

European Directive extending performers’ rights adopted by European Council

After several years of uncertainty and series of fresh developments, the European Directive extending the term of protection for performers’ rights in respect to sound recordings has finally just been adopted by the European Council on Monday 12 September 2011.

Against an international backdrop which is largely unfavourable to copyright issues, this initiative has, for several years, had to face often radical opposition from various lobbies, often underlain by arguments that were either inconsistent or simply in bad faith. FIM’s lobbying efforts also encountered resistance from the industry when it came to ensuring that the text really benefitted musicians and not just record producers.

The text adopted represents an historic step forward. It does not just extend the term of protection of neighbouring rights from 50 to 70 years but also includes provisions aimed at correcting imbalances affecting contractual relationships between performers and producers. From this point of view, the text is firmly innovative and, may, we hope, provide a basis for further headway.

All FIM European members are invited to get closely involved in the process of transposing the directive into national legislations. Trade unions from other regions are also encouraged to draw inspiration from the text’s most favourable provisions in order to continue to make worldwide headway where musicians’ rights are concerned.

EAEA replies to EC consultation on the Enforcement Directive

Download EAEA contribution to EC consultation (pdf)