Virus and high rents, Venetian artisans cry for help: “We cannot go on this way”

De Checchi: “The City must intervene decisively”. Chairman Costalonga: “Ready to open a roundtable”

By Vera Mantengoli

28 October 2020

VENEZIA. Coronavirus and high rents are for Confartigianato (the artisan’s association) a lethal mix, delivering the final blow to Venice. The script is always this: zero tourists, employees with no future, owners who don’t lower the rent.  This finale is what they seek to change: Chairman Sebastiano Costalonga has agreed to open a roundtable for talks with Confartigianato to try and find a solution, above all for the rents, which also involves private owners.

However, Confartigianato maintains that the City administration should intervene more clearly, through the nomination of the heads of the former Ipab Ire and Elemosiniere, lowering the rents of properties it owns. “Glass, masks, gift items, but also gold work, typography and even roasters are dealing with the very serious repercussions of the pandemic, which is producing drastic drops in sales” explained Secretary Gianni De Checci.

“The average is a -38.6% reduction in income, but this is distorted by the resilience of home sales, construction, electricians, plumbers, and painters. When these categories are removed the situation is much worse. The picture is now completely clear: without strong aid soon, century-old stores and businesses risk disappearing from the city”.

One example is Franco Scalabrin, 55 years old, for 33 years a craftsman of masks and glass. For a couple of weeks now Scalabrin has gone around with a clown nose and a mask with the Joker’s sneer painted on it: “It is in a small way my protest against a government of clowns that does not understand how to help us” said Scalabrin, who has a shop in calle de la Pescaria, near Riva degli Schiavoni.

“For 33 years I have always paid the rent. My owner cancelled the rent in the last months of the lockdown, but then everything went back to as it was before. Too bad that, apart from some weekends, the city is empty and there are no longer tourists from the cruise ships, who often sleep in a hotel close to the store, neither are there those from Punta Sabbioni, nor the Americans”.

For Scalabrin it would require a decree to force owners to halve or even cancel the rent, or find a way to overcome this nightmare.

For Confartigianato, Venice is drowning because 75% of the crafts businesses in the historic city are now at their limits. “Those who hoped to try and recover clients and sales in the Christmas season have had a cold shower” explains De Checci. “With this scenario the unresolved problem of high rents continues to weigh like a stone”.

Confartigianato has launched an appeal to the owners to request controlled prices to support productive businesses, but the majority of landlords have not even considered the request. “High rents don’t concern only private landlords, but also the Fondazioni Veneziane ex Ipab Ire ed Elemosiniere, which should operate in the market in a different spirit” said De Checchi.

“They hold significant residential and commercial assets, including the stores of many artisans. And here the Mayor has a say and responsibility, because the appointments are guided by the Mayor and the directions are given by him, but so far a dialogue has not existed”. “I have agreed to open a roundtable” said Costalonga. “The City has already reduced rents, now together we can understand how to proceed in order to save this city”.


Source: La Nuova Venezia

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