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Working together pays off

Pearle* director Anita Debaere highlights the benefits of belonging to an organisation that represents more than 7,000 institutions in the live sector

08 Nov 2016

Anita Debaere, Pearle*

Today we use technology to channel almost every form of communication and interaction. This might lead you to think that associations are anachronistic, belonging firmly to the past. But you would be wrong. In our world of ever more complex politics and regulations, trade associations are increasingly proving their worth as platforms where like-minded people can congregate.

At meeting places like the ILMC, professionals have the opportunities they need to discuss common issues, learn from experts, share ideas for new projects, create business partnerships and much more.

Peers will often agree on the causes of problems that hamper business operations, and usually find consensus on a to-do list of what should change, and how. Any solution that can be found quickly may naturally be used at once. But if discussion reveals that only a change at European level would contribute a satisfactory solution – and this is not an unusual occurrence – then the European association is best placed to wave a magic wand to raise such matters to be discussed amongst peers at a higher level in a more important arena.

This prompts major companies and national associations to join European and international associations and federations, with a view to achieving progress by influencing high-level policy makers in order to determine strategies for the right way to do business.

Pearle*-Live Performance Europe is one such European federation. It represents the interests of its members in international institutional discussions, steadfastly upholding its mission to create a sustainable environment for the live performance industry in Europe.

In an increasingly complex institutional environment where it is lawyers and policy advisers who draft the frameworks and regulations in which our society and economies operate, it is essential to have a Brussels-based office to monitor the situation and be present at meetings where decisions are taken that will be felt right down to the grassroots level.

Pearle has so far identified around 150 regulations that impact the live performance sector in 20 different policy areas. Some are of general nature, applicable to any part of economy, such as the directives for SEPA and late payments; the huge volume of EU legislation governing the employment, health and safety of workers; and the goal of zero emissions for buildings.

Brexit or not, we are still working to create a sustainable environment across Europe in which the live performance sector may thrive and prosper

Other areas particularly affect the live performance sector, and here Pearle has successfully intervened to achieve (or is still working towards) specific exemptions and special rules for our sector. These areas include: a general block exemption regulation permitting governments to provide state aid for cultural activities (eg the UK’s tax relief system) and direct subsidies to the cultural sector; copyright; VAT (reduced rates for culture in member states may continue); taxation (towards the reduction of double taxation); social security; posting of workers; logistics of cross-border travel with musical instruments; visas for artists visiting Europe or for European artists touring the USA; online ticketing; wireless microphones and radio spectrum, etc.

All these activities represent an important part of Pearle’s work in Brussels. As a European federation it also examines transnational domains of common interest such as: education and skills, cultural policy, experience economy, digital agenda, (alternative) sources of financing, cross-sectorial cooperation, external relations and internationalisation, to name a few. At their meetings, Pearle members can report on current developments in their respective countries, attend technical seminars and workshops, and also discuss services and activities delivered by the associations that they represent.

Among the advantages of belonging to an association like Pearle is the access it gives to high-quality information, and a true picture of the interests of the live performance sector, plus participation in its actions targeting new achievements. If you represent a national or European association, you are most welcome to join us at one of our forthcoming conferences.

It feels rather strange to be writing this article for the next IQ issue in the new post-Brexit era, almost like arguing the devil’s point of view. We have become so accustomed to life in the international context being smoothed out, thanks to a certain degree of European harmonisation. But we have learned to tread with caution, having so often seen member states reverse this process by introducing additional layers of red tape.

Yet we are still here, 25 years after the creation of Pearle by the CEOs of live performance sector associations in five EU countries: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Brexit or not, we are still working to create a sustainable environment across Europe in which the live performance sector may thrive and prosper.


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