IMPALA starts MIDEM with a new management board, new priorities and a private meeting with the EC Commissioner for Culture, Jan Figel

With former President Patrick Zelnik and Chairman Martin Mills standing down by rotation, the board decided to change its management structure, promoting current Secretary General Helen Smith to Executive Chair and electing three Presidents - Michel Lambot Co-Chairman PIAS Entertainment Group,  Patrick Zelnik President Naïve and Horst Weidenmüller CEO !K7. Jonas Sjostrom, Edel remains treasurer.

The board also reviewed its strategy in response to the need to ensure continued political and commercial results.

Europe’s leaders recognise that small cultural and creative companies are vital to Europe's innovation, jobs and growth. They also acknowledge that specific support is needed.

IMPALA will adopt a new action plan to be published next month to identify the practical measures needed built around three key elements:

Ministerial Lunch

Left to Right: Michel Lambot (PIAS), Helen Smith (IMPALA), Jan Figel (European Commissioner for Culture), Horst Weidenmüller (!K7), Patrick Zelnik (Naïve) and Martin Mills (Beggars Group)

1. financial package with tax benefits, new investment measures and lower VAT, to ensure long term viability.
2. digital package with full ISP responsibility and measures to address Europe's slow digital take up.
3. market access package with new competition guidelines and preferential treatment to counter chronic concentration and allow SMEs to compete on their own merits.

The action plan will be addressed to the EC and all member states at a critical time. The EU is pursuing a new Agenda for Culture, which will seek to respond to SME needs as one of its priorities for developing Europe's cultural industries. In addition, all EU member states will start formally reviewing their national policies on a regular basis.

IMPALA believes that their three-pronged plan will demand urgent adoption in 2008. They look to the French presidency to take a leadership role.

The roll out of the new IMPALA got off to a good start on MIDEM's first day, when IMPALA had a private breakfast with European Commissioner for Culture Jan Figel, to discuss the concrete issues that affect independents all over Europe.  Later in the day Michel Lambot also highlighted IMPALA's priorities to national culture ministers during lunch.

Horst Weidenmueller, CEO !K7 and IMPALA President said: "IMPALA is now ready not only to address the problems of the music industry but to come up with the solutions for the market."

EC Culture Commissioner Jan Figel said: "Cultural and creative SMEs are vital to Europe's innovation, diversity, growth and employment.  It is important for me to be able to have direct dialogue with organisations such as IMPALA to better understand what market conditions music SMEs need in order to flourish. ”

IMPALA President, Michel Lambot, said “Having the opportunity of a private meeting with Mr Figel the European Commissioner for Culture demonstrates the value that is placed on cultural SMEs. Through continued action at European and national level we can achieve real progress. ”

Patrick Zelnik, President of Naive and President of Impala added: " I'm delighted to be re-elected as IMPALA president.  My priority will be to put culture at the heart of Europe."

Helen Smith, IMPALA Chair, added: "I am delighted to step up to the role of Executive Chair. IMPALA seeks to bring clarity for decision makers and reinforce the actors who focus on what really matters - music and fans. If we succeed with our action plan the future will be bright."