The Portugal Fashion (PF) program continues without support from community funds and subsequent applications should only open at the end of the first quarter of next year. The event is therefore in danger of ending, as warned in the last three editions. “It is unlikely that the March 2024 edition will take place,” Alexandre Meirelles, president of the National Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE) which has been organizing Porto Fashion Week since 1995, told PÚBLICO.
The 53rd edition of the event takes place until Saturday, at the Museu do Carro Eléctrico, in Porto, financed solely by private investment, funds from ANJE and support from the Porto City Council, which has contributed €150,000 – The total budget amounted to 450 thousand euros. Since October last year, the fund has not been able to access European funds, “because there was a closed (Portugal 2020) funding cycle,” explains the person in charge.
The last three releases are not covered by any community framework, although ANJE reported this Support can be retroactive“If the spending is done correctly according to the competition rules.” There is already around €1.5 million the organization needs to raise to cover expenses, and this is paid for through other funding available to them – which also supports entrepreneurship, innovation and internationalisation, meaning they have access to other community funds.
“In terms of the treasury, we had to make an effort, but we couldn’t do it anymore,” says Alexandre Meirelles. “If applications open only in the first quarter, the March 2024 edition and perhaps even the October 2024 edition will be excluded,” he explains. “It is unbearable.” What the organization seeks is, “without causing any controversy, to find a solution with the government” for the next event. “Because so far we don’t see a way to make that happen.”
Alexander Meireles explains that since October last year, the National Bank of Greece has been in constant “conversation” with the Ministry of Economy. Then Minister Antonio Costa Silva promised to provide funds to continue the project. He added: “We believe we will have a solution, but we want to leave a warning half a year in advance, so that if the conditions are not there, everyone can prepare.” “The government considers this event of great importance,” he says.
From 2016 to 2022, while Portugal 2020 was in effect, ANJE received approx. 20 million euros” From European funds. “We are more than just Portuguese fashion,” he explains. However, the event is the “core project” of the association’s mission, and according to a study by the Portuguese Catholic University, each edition of the forum before the pandemic achieved an impact of around ten million euros and created around 400 jobs. In other words, in four years, the project created an impact of €45.4 million on Portuguese gross value added, he explains.
Since October 2022, the event has been carried out with half the original budget (it was 900 thousand euros, now 450 thousand) and this was reflected above all in the details, such as the locations of the parades, the absence of live broadcasts and the relocation or reduction of the number of hired models. “These are commitment releases, created thanks to the support of the Porto City Council.”
Another source of financing is the Canex project, financed by Afreximbank, with the aim of diversifying the destination markets for Portuguese fashion, creating a new opportunity for Africa, not only to export, but also for African creatives to produce here. “We have already attracted more than 70 designers,” he points out.
“The way forward is to achieve greater private sector involvement and external support,” sums up the person in charge, refusing to state that the National Bank of Egypt is in debt or at risk of bankruptcy. “This is not what is on the table. We are here to find solutions. We have made a final decision at the beginning of next year, but as of today there are no conditions for holding another edition,” he concluded.
Since 1995, Portugal Fashion has organized 53 Fashion Weeks in Porto, always in March and October, and is “home” to dozens of national designers such as Alexandra Moura, Miguel Vieira, Pedro Pedro or Susana Bettencourt. The project has always been characterized by an element of internationalization in Portuguese designer fashion, which distinguishes it from ModaLisboa, its sister event, in the capital.
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