Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Businessweek
Pursuits

Spanish Theater Company Solves Tax Problem With Porn

Tucking tickets into porn mags is one way to protest a levy
Spanish Theater Company Solves Tax Problem With Porn
Photograph by Getty Images

In 2012, as part of drastic austerity measures put in place to curb Spain’s runaway budget deficit, the conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy raised sales taxes on sporting events, leisure activities, and personal services such as haircuts. Cinema and theater were among the hardest-hit industries, with levies on ticket prices for both movies and live shows almost tripling to 21 percent from 8 percent. The actor Javier Bardem joined protest marches through the streets of Madrid, and the director Pedro Almodóvar wrote op-eds accusing Rajoy of destroying the country’s movie industry.

Spain’s theater companies may have suffered the most. Audiences for performances have declined a third and revenues have fallen about 14 percent since the economy crashed in 2008, according to the Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers. The number of live performances is down 26 percent. Spain’s theater tax is the second-highest in Western Europe, behind Denmark at 25 percent, according to the European Commission.