Today I aired my support for Filipino artists who are demanding that the producer of the Phantom of the Opera musical pay the proper equity fees for displacing local talents.
The Alliance of Working Artists for Rights and Equity (Aware) wants the producer to pay P5,000 as equity for every foreign actor brought in for the show. Under a memorandum of agreement between the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM), the equity fee is used to provide medical assistance and other benefits to homegrown singers and artists displaced by foreign productions.
The local artists also want the BI to revoke the special working permit it gave the foreign cast and crew of the musical. The bureau classified the said foreign actors as non-singers and therefore exempted from equity fees.
The position of our Filipino artists is justified. The Phantom’s stage actors are also singers. Besides, whatever their classification, they displace local talents and thus should be made to pay equity.
However, I think that funds from the equity payments should be managed to benefit not just singers but theatre performers and other artists as well. It should also be used not simply for medical expenses and other pesonal benefits but to uplift the rights and welfare of the sector in general.
In fact, maybe its about time we craft legislation on this matter to ensure fairness and clear parametes for all stakeholders.
By the way, I filed House Bill 3787 or the Local Music Industry Incentive Act which was already approved by the House in August last year. The bill seeks to exempt concerts featuring original Filipino artists and compositions from amusement taxes.
This bill would encourage more live concerts by local artists and will benefit producers and artists already burdened by multiple taxes, from VAT paid for services and materials to income taxes.
We are trying to encourage and promote the creation of original Filipino music and provide support to make the industry locally viable and internationally competitive, but the government itself is biased for foreign acts and this should be corrected. We have nothing against foreign productions but government should ensure that such productions also help support our local artists. #