Spanish theatre company swaps tickets for porn magazines to avoid 'scandalous' tax hike

Theatre tickets are subjected to 23 per cent tax, but magazines are taxed only 4 per cent in comparison under the government's latest budget cuts

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The Independent Culture

A Madrid theatre company struggling to stay afloat under heavy taxes has come up with a novel solution: pornography.

Theatre group Primas de Riesgo, or Risk Premium, has exchanged selling tickets for back issues of pornography magazine Gente Libre, or Free People.

The radical change was prompted by the Spanish government’s decision to slash subsidies for the culture sector, hiking tax on theatres and cinemas from 8 per cent to 21 per cent.

In comparison the ruling right-wing party kept tax for magazines – from high class glossies to pornography – remained at the previous 4 per cent.

Director Karina Garantivá, 33, said: “It is two figures and two products that the public can compare. A porn magazine, which offers a service I won’t question, and Calderón – our heritage – the Spanish Shakespeare.”

“It’s scandalous when cultural heritage is being taxed at 21% and porn at only at 4%. Something is wrong,” Ms Garantivá told the Guardian.

Since November the group has sold the magazines, which date back to the 80s and 90s, for $16 each and come with a ‘free’ ticket of the group’s latest production El Mágico Prodigioso, a 17th-century drama by Pedro Calderón de la Barca.

For the opening night last night, Primas de Riesgo managed to give away 180 tickets.

Newspaper vendor Jose Francisco Asensio Gonzalez said: “I benefit from selling magazines with a low tax rate so I can see how they will also benefit in exactly the same way.”

One theatre goer said: “We want to see shows but we don’t have enough money, so I definitely support them.”

Another member of the audience said: “At least it’s different, it is creative.”

While undoubtedly the most eye-catching, Primas de Riesgo isn’t the first theatre troop to have this idea. In Catalan a theatre company sold carrots – taxed at 4 per cent - for $13 and threw in a free theatre ticket.

Spain cultural elite have condemned the government for its steep tax rises, but the country’s finance minster Cristóbal Montoro has defended the hikes, claiming his office needed to be “left alone” to  work.

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