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Lack of support could see almost 100 Belgian cinemas close

Credits: Belga

Following a difficult year for the industry, and with no relief in sight, the Federation of Cinemas of Belgium (FCB) has urged the government to increase financial support, warning this crisis is a threat to 1,250 jobs.

In an open letter signed by 113 leaders in the sector, the FCB alerted ministers that the corona crisis has had “catastrophic consequences” for Belgian cinemas, as it had forced them to close their doors to the public for a total of 6,5 months so far.

The loss to the cinema industry so far in 2020 has been estimated at around €210 million, with an additional €25 million being added per closing month.

“The economic consequences are dramatic: many jobs, both direct and indirect, are threatened, and the sector was already in a vulnerable position,” said Thierry Laermans, the secretary-general of the FCB.

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In total, the industry received €3 million in support from the government. In comparison, French and German cinemas received €125.8 million and €90 million respectively, whilst the Dutch government made €55 million available to the sector, according to Laermans.

The letter highlighted that, without governmental support, 98 affiliated cinemas are in danger of bankruptcy.

Players from across the sector, from cinema directors to actors from the Belgian big screen, came together to convey this message to Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, the Minister-Presidents of the different country Regions, several ministers in charge of the Economy, Francophone Culture Minister Bénédicte Linard, as well as Federal Ministers for Health, Frank Vandenbroucke, and the Interior, Annelies Verlinden.

“Our entire sector now has its back to the wall,” Laermans emphasised. “But it’s not only our sector but also all affiliated activities that depend on the cinemas: cafes, restaurants, shops, nightclubs,… are affected by this closure. During this period of crisis, cultural and social activities are more than essential.”

He concluded: “It is a part of Belgian culture that is in danger.”

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times