Magazine article Screen International

Locarno Sponsor to Pull out after 15 Years

Magazine article Screen International

Locarno Sponsor to Pull out after 15 Years

Article excerpt

The decision by the local energy concern Azienda Elettrica Ticinese (AET) to pull the plug on its sponsorship after this year's edition of the Locarno Film Festival (Aug 3-13) is "a disaster", according to festival president Marco Solari.

A report by local news outlet Ticinonews suggested that, although the sponsors' contributions are not made public, "a rapid calculation" would translate into a "weighty particpation" in the six digit range.

In a statement, AET's CEO Roberto Pronini explained that "the deep structural changes affecting Europe's electric energy market and the ensuing difficulties based in Switzerland" had forced AET into "a drastic downsizing" of its sponsorship policy.

AET had been one of Locarno's four main sponsors for 15 consecutive editions since 2002.

The energy concern is also pulling out of sponsoring hockey clubs in Lugano and Ambri-Piotta and the annual JazzAscona festival.

Speaking exclusively to Screen, Locarno's head of sponsorship Raphaël Brunschwig admitted that it will "not be easy" to find a replacement for AET as main sponsor, but he is "confident" that this will be achieved in good time before the festival's 70th edition next year.

He confirmed that two of the other main sponsors - department store chain MANOR and UBS bank - have extended their financial commitment until 2019.

A spokesperson for the remaining main sponsor Swisscom - which has sponsored the festival for the past 20 years - commented that "our commitment is an important statement for Ticino and we are happy with the partnership," adding that "for strategic reasons, we prefer not to comment on the extent and duration of ongoing partnerships".

However, Screen understands that the festival has a letter of intent from Swisscom for the period until 2019.

In addition, Raphaël Brunschwig noted that the sponsors again provide around 30% of the festival's budget of $13m (CHF13m) this year, and confirmed that Switzerland's Federal Office of Culture (BAK) will be allocating $1.55m (CHF1.51m) annually between 2017-2020 to Locarno from its $3.46m (CHF3.38m) festival budget.

This autumn will see the festival overseeing the refurbishment of the town's historic cinema Ex*Rex as it is transformed into the new GranRex with $820,000 (CHF800,000) support from the Leopard Club and $102,000(CHF100,000) from an investor. …

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