Report creation date: 14.10.2008 - 10:46
Countr(y/ies): Italy
Chapter(s): 1,2,21,22,23,24,241,242,243,244,245,246,3,31,32,33,4,41,42,421,422,423,424,425,426,427,428,429,4210,43,5,51,511,512,513,514,515,516,517,518,519,52,53,531,532,533,534,535,536,537,538,539,5310,6,61,62,63,64,7,71,72,73,8,81,811,812,813,82,821,822,83,831,832,84,841,842,9,91,92

Italy/ 1. Historical perspective: cultural policies and instruments

Italy is a comparatively young state, whose unification dates back only to 1860. The first laws pertaining to cultural matters were adopted by the Parliament in 1902 and 1909, focussing mainly on the protection of the heritage ("tutela"). In fact, given the unparalleled wealth of the multi-layered Italian historic and artistic assets and the considerable burden of its maintenance on the public purse, heritage has always represented the prevailing domain of public policy in the cultural sector.Rome

A noteworthy parenthesis to this longstanding trend was to be witnessed during the 1920s and 1930s under fascist rule, when Italy was one of the first countries to create a ministry specifically in charge of the cultural sector as a whole: the Ministry for Popular Culture, which actually soon became quite unpopular. Despite the negative implications of such a Ministry being created under a dictatorship - censorship, ideological propaganda, and the like - the farsightedness and the anticipatory view of the role of the state in the policies for culture of the fascist regime, as well as its understanding of the cultural institutional engineering, are by now generally acknowledged. A large part of Italian cultural legislation - not only on the protection of the heritage and landscape (Laws 1039 and 1042 of 1939), but also in support of artists and artistic creativity, such as the general Copyright Law (also extended to "droit de suite"), or the Law on "2% for the arts in public buildings" - date back to the late 1930s and early 1940s. The same is true for many of the major cultural institutions that continue to operate, such as the Institute for Restoration (for movable and immovable cultural goods), the first national broadcasting company (EIAR, later RAI), Cinecittà (the state owned film company), ETI (the theatre agency) and ENPALS (the social security institute specifically aimed at the protection of performing artists).

As in Germany, the Ministry for Popular Culture was immediately abolished after the war: yet, whereas cultural competencies were devolved to the Länder in the former case, in Italy they were instead retained by the state and split among several ministries. The "protection of heritage", "freedom of thought and of artistic expression", and the "promotion of cultural development" were the key cultural goals indicated by the Italian Constitution of 1947 (Articles 9, 21 and 33). However, only the first two goals were actively pursued from the outset, while the last one remained in the background for some decades. Support for contemporary creativity was no longer a priority, and access to the arts was still for the happy few. Widespread participation in cultural life, however, gradually gathered momentum through the fast-developing cultural industries, and notably through the high level of post-war film production and through the new mass medium: television.

A relevant turning point came in the 1970s, when many significant institutional reforms took place, innovating public policies in the cultural field. The process was started in 1972, when, according to the 1947 Constitution, the 15 ordinary regions were finally established. In particular, very active policies were undertaken by some of the regions (Lombardy, Toscana, Emilia Romagna...), soon becoming aware of the potential of culture and the arts as a positive assertion of their own identities. The municipalities followed this example and, around the mid 1970s, the promotion of culture and of broader participation in cultural life became widely debated national issues. Nevertheless, the demand for more cultural decentralisation remained unfulfilled, as the reallocation of competencies on heritage and the performing arts among the state, the regions and local authorities, which, according to Leg. Decree 616/1977, should have taken place within 1978, and was not enacted.

Other relevant institutional changes have seen the light in the second half of the 1970s, when the long lasting rationalisation process of the dispersed cultural responsibilities at the national level was finally started. The first step was the creation, in 1975, of a separate Ministry for Heritage, by regrouping responsibilities for museums and monuments, libraries, cultural institutions from the Ministry of Education, for archives from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and for book publishing from the Prime Minister's Office. The transfer of responsibilities for the performing arts to the new Ministry, which had been foreseen by Decree 803 1975, turned out to be premature, as the ghost of the Ministry for Popular Culture was evoked, both by the Ministry's own officials and by the media, in order to question the idea of a comprehensive ministry for culture. The prominence of the exceptionally relevant heritage as the cornerstone of Italy's cultural policy was thus emphasised; "protection" and "restoration" being the key functions absorbing most of the state's activities and financial resources allocated to the cultural field. Support for contemporary creativity and for wider access continued to be a low priority also for the new ministry: according to foreign cultural policy experts visiting the country in 1994, on the one hand "the philosophy of the historically based" and it "operates against the interests of a lively visual arts sector", while, on the other hand, "at the hint of any conflict between tutela and public access, the public were invariably the losers" (Council of Europe, 1995).

At the turn of the century, the new economic emphasis on the production of immaterial goods and services, and thus the central role acquired by cultural policies in the framework of development policies in Italy as in other industrialised countries, played a significant role in removing the last obstacles to a full rationalisation of the state cultural competencies. In 1998, the centre-left government extended the scope of the Ministry for Heritage to embrace responsibility for the performing arts and cinema, previously entrusted to the PrimeMinister's Office. Further responsibilities on copyright were added in 2000, when the reformed Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities had finally achieved the full status of a ministry for culture comparable to the ones of most European countries. Only responsibilities for support and regulation of the radio, television and the press, as well as artistic training and arts education, remain out of its reach.

The devolution problem, though, has not yet been solved (see 5.1.2). In fact, further legislation adopted in 1997 and 1998, aiming at decentralising additional cultural responsibilities to the regions and local authorities, subsequently endorsed by Constitutional Law 3/2001, has not been fully enacted yet and appeals to the Constitutional Court are quite frequent. Whatever kind of institutional reorganisation will finally be achieved, any devolution should necessarily be linked to the strengthening, at the national level, of the planning, co-ordination, evaluation and monitoring capabilities of the cultural field as a whole. A "different state" is actually needed for a positive outcome of the decentralisation process (Cammelli, 2003), and also in view of implementing policies and actions specifically aimed at overcoming the deeply rooted geographical and social imbalances still affecting Italy's cultural life.

The gap in cultural supply and demand between the rich and developed northern and central regions and southern Italy is a long lasting problem. According to the Rapporto sull'Economia della Cultura in Italia (Bodo, Spada, 2004), notwithstanding the significant thrust set in motion by the European Structural Funds to the Objective 1 regions, most cultural indicators show that this gap is growing even wider. In some regions of the economically underprivileged Mezzogiorno - an area extremely rich in cultural heritage and in artistic talents - arts policies are still endemically affected by the lack of public and private financial resources. Furthermore, the need to promote and safeguard not only the basic civic rights, but also the cultural rights of all those living in Italy, including the 3.5 million newcomers from the economically less developed areas of the world (see 4.2.1 and 4.2.3), has not yet been fully taken into account.

To guarantee equality of access to cultural life for all citizens - also as a means to strengthen social cohesion - should be considered an utmost priority. An urgent and well focused effort by the national community is needed to rise to this challenge.

Italy/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.1 Organisational structure (organigram)

Chart 1:  Institutional structure of government cultural organisation

As the Ministry for Heritage's organisational structure adopted through Decree 3/2004, implementing the reform of the Ministry introduced by the centre right government is about to undergo substantial changes, it will not be presented here. In fact the Budget Law for 2007 (Law 296/2006) provided for the suppression of the ministry's four departments and a return to the previous ministerial structure coordinated by a general secretariat. According to the draft regulation concerning the Ministry's reorganisation, adopted on the 15 June 2007 by the Council of Ministers - which has been sent for advice to the Parliament, the number of General Directorates will be reduced from ten to nine, with a partial reorganisation of their functions.

Among the other main institutional innovations in the cultural sector introduced by the Budget Law for 2007, is the transfer of responsibilities for sport from the Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities to a newly created Ministry for Youth Policies and Sport Activities. Furthermore, it should be kept in mind that the Minister for Heritage, Francesco Rutelli, who also covers the position of Vice Prime Minister, is presently responsible for the Department for Tourism as well, which has been transferred from the Ministry for Economic Development to the Prime Minister's Office by Law 233/2006. This transfer, expressly requested by the Minister, confirms the constantly growing perception of the close links between culture and tourism in Italy, and the will to establish better synergies.

Chart 2: Regional structure for cultural organisation

Italy/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.2 Overall description of the system

In Italy, four levels of government - state, regions, provinces and municipalities - share responsibilities in the cultural field (see 2.1). Although important changes in the  governance structure of culture are under way (see 5.1.2), for the time being, the most important administrative and legislative functions still lie with the state, which is also responsible for the allocation of around half of the total government expenditure for culture (see 6.3).

The state

At the national level, the administrative functions in the cultural sector are carried out by 5 ministries, in particular by the Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities, which is responsible for heritage, libraries and archives, the visual and performing arts, cultural institutions and copyright. Coordination of the Ministry's functions is entrusted to a Secretary General, whereas, according to a new regulation soon to be adopted, nine General Directions will share responsibility for the above mentioned sectors, with the technical assistance of seven relatively autonomous high level scientific bodies, the Istituti, active in the fields of restoration, cataloguing, etc... The peripheral ministerial structure is provided for by the Regional Directions, which, unlike the French DRAC, are only responsible for heritage matters, and by the Sovrintendenze, the latter being techno-scientific structures active in the fields of fine arts and museums, architecture and landscape, and archives. In exercising its functions, the Ministry is assisted by three widely representative advisory bodies: the High Council for Heritage and Landscape, the "Consulta" for the Performing Arts, and the newly created advisory body for copyright.

Responsibility for information - radio, television and the press - is shared between the Prime Minister's Office, whose Department for Press and Publishing is in charge of financial support to the press and to special audiovisual services, and the Ministry for Communication, responsible for the regulatory functions on the information system as a whole, under the supervision of an independent body, the Authority for Guarantees in Communication. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is mostly responsible for international cultural cooperation, albeit in cooperation with the Ministry for Heritage, while artistic training is entrusted to the Ministry for Education.

State legislative functions in the cultural field lie with the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, and are notably exercised through their Cultural Commissions. The yearly adoption of the Budget Law also allows the Parliament to play a relevant role in the funding system, as the Parliamentary debates on this law often produce heated discussions on the pros and cons of public financing of culture, which sometimes lead to cuts in budget line items (subsidies to the performing arts are among the favourite targets).

Furthermore, budget laws have been often used by the government to introduce measures aimed at the integration of statutory cultural budgets with additional funding from other sources, e.g. lottery money (Budget Law for 1997) and the 3% of capital investments in the main national strategic infrastructures to be allocated for cultural purposes (Budget Law for 2004, see 5.1.3). As they must be adopted statutorily within December of the previous year, budget laws are becoming more and more exploited as shortcuts for partially anticipating reforms in the cultural sector, whose procedure is sometimes endlessly protracted, thereby accelerating their coming into force. This was the case for the Budget Law for 2007, which partially provided for the reorganisation of the Ministry for the Heritage, and of the draft Budget Law for 2008, adopted by the Council of Ministers at the end of September 2007, and presently being discussed by the Parliament. It is worth mentioning, among others, some articles anticipating fiscal incentives and other indirect support measures for the cinema industry foreseen in the draft laws for cinema (see 5.3.6), as well as other measures in the draft law for publishing, providing for more cogent strings to the state contributions system for the press, and making cuts (see 4.2.5 and 5.3.8). Moreover, another article aims at a more effective rationalisation of public-private partnerships in the "auxiliary services", for the management of museums and archaeological sites (see 4.2.9).

The regions

The twenty Italian Regions are all endowed with legislative powers, and with ad hoc administrative structures, mostly including regional departments for culture / assessorati regionali alla cultura, and are split into two groups (see 2.1):

Official representation of regional interests - in cultural, as in any other matter - is entrusted to the State-Regions Conference. Within this framework, the heads of the regional departments for culture regularly meet to discuss issues of common interest in the framework of two special coordination committees, the Interregional committee for cultural goods and the Interregional committee for the performing arts, also acting as lobbying organisations, pursuing institutional reforms towards a more federal governance structure in the cultural field (see 5.1.2).

The provinces

The 107 Italian Provinces are the level of government least involved in cultural policy (their average expenditure for culture is ten times less than the average amount of municipal expenditure: see 6.3).

Through their ad hoc departments for culture / assessorati provinciali alla cultura, the provinces are responsible for their own cultural institutions - mainly libraries and museums - often acting as a coordinating system for municipal public libraries as well. Moreover some of the regions entrust provinces, by law, with the role of intermediate bodies for the allocation of regional funds to the municipalities.

The municipalities

The 8 101 Italian municipalities are undoubtedly, after the state, the most prominent public actors on the cultural scene in Italy, and their ratio on public cultural expenditure - about 1/3 in 2000 - is constantly growing.

Through their municipal departments for culture / assessorati comunali alla cultura, they play a paramount role in the direct management of municipal cultural institutions, like museums and sites, archives, libraries, theatres, multifunctional cultural centres, etc.

Italian municipalities are also investing highly in the restoration and maintenance of their historic assets, albeit under the supervision of the Ministry, and in building cultural premises, with special attention given to capital investments in contemporary art museums and performing arts centres (the new three halls Auditorium in Rome by Renzo Piano was totally funded by the municipality). Municipalities also promote and support a wide range of cultural activities and events, actively contributing to the rich national supply of art exhibitions, performing arts festivals, literature festivals, street events, cultural minorities' celebrations, etc. Recently, the organisation of White Nights (Notti Bianche) during which free access to museums, exhibitions, theatres and all kinds of performances is provided, spread out from Rome (which was in turn inspired by Paris) to many other cities, such as Milan, Naples, Genoa...

Italy/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation

At a horizontal level, inter-ministerial co-operation has been traditionally pursued by the Ministry for Heritage with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the field of cultural relations abroad (see 2.4), and with the Ministry of Education for arts training and education in schools (see 8.3.1).

A key development in horizontal co-operation was the participation of the Ministry for Heritage in the Inter-ministerial Committee for Economic Planning (CIPE) of the Ministry for the Economy since 1999. Through involvement in this strategic Committee - which is also responsible for the allocation of EU Structural Funds - 2.7 billion euros (7.22% of the total available resources) had been allocated to the Objective 1 Regions in Southern Italy for capital investments in the "Priority Axis Culture", as specified in the 2000-2006 Plan within the Community Support Framework.

As for vertical co-operation among government levels, common problems between the state and the regions have always been dealt with in the framework of the State-Regions Conference, also acting as a sort of "clearing house" for any controversy. In recent years, though, two interesting developments for more rationally planned state / region cooperation should be singled out:

Italy/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends

In Italy, the early 2000s have seen a growing consciousness of the political and socio economic relevance of international cultural cooperation, along with a better understanding that the enhancement of the international image of Italy's rich and multilayered culture would represent a valuable means of foreign policy. On the other hand, the strong boost in cultural activities abroad took place in a more and more disperse institutional framework. This fragmentation in the government organisation of international cultural activities and events - once strongly in the hands of the Director General for Cultural Promotion and Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, albeit in collaboration with the Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities - has probably been one of the main institutional features characterising international cultural cooperation in recent times.

The various stages of this fragmentation into a variety of institutional actors can be synthesised as follows:

Italy/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

The main problem with such a plurality of actors involved in international cultural cooperation is that, within the state administration, no one has a comprehensive view of such a complex and articulated picture. Furthermore, again unlike in other countries (France, Sweden, ), no exhaustive research, monitoring or analysing of all the multifaceted aspects of Italian cultural policy abroad has ever been carried out, assisting in the reassessment of issues in a rapidly changing world. Information in this profile, therefore, is focused on the cultural cooperation activities of what is still the main institutional actor in this field: the DG for Cultural Promotion of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The DG for Cultural Promotion and Cooperation

The main areas of activity of this DG - also responsible for cooperation in educational and scientific matters - in the cultural field, lie in bilateral cultural co-operation, which is carried out through the Italian Cultural Institutes Abroad, through bilateral cultural agreements, and through the joint organisation of full scale yearly cultural events.

The Italian network of Cultural Institutes Abroad - whose mission is the promotion of Italian culture in foreign countries - has been in operation since the 1930s, and has gradually become more extensive: it presently operates in 90 institutes, 53% of which are located in Europe. Notwithstanding the fact that their organisation has been rationalised by Law 401/1990, the institutes are again under scrutiny. In fact, it is generally felt that this precious asset for international cultural cooperation and dialogue does not keep up with its great potential, and that a new legislative reform is needed. Some of the weakest points of the institutes are considered the following:

1.      a lack of autonomy as, unlike some foreign counterparts, such as the Goethe Institutes, they are (informally) submissive to the Ministry's control, and thus subject to the changing moods of the different political majorities;

2.      shortages in financial resources, as the institutes are underfinanced, and their yearly global financial allowance of 18 000 euro (not including salaries) is mostly absorbed by ordinary activities (libraries, teaching of the Italian language, small scale internal cultural events) rather than by wide ranging development and outreach programs; and

3.      problems in the recruiting and training of personnel, who are not always trained in the complex interdisciplinary tasks involved in international cultural cooperation.

There is also a need to rationalise the network, by shifting its balance from Europe to other areas of the world (the Middle East, the Pacific Ocean region...). The idea of increasing local synergies with the institutes of the other EU members in some of the strategically more relevant countries, to better promote European culture as a means of intercultural dialogue, is also under consideration.

About seventy bilateral cultural agreements with other countries are also in force, dealing with a whole range of activities: exchanges of scholars, artists, performances and artistic events, archaeological missions, etc...,. However, with some exceptions - like the agreements dealing with cinema co-productions and heritage - the bilateral agreements are no longer considered, by the DG for Cultural Promotion and Co-operation, as the most effective instrument for international cultural cooperation. In fact, they tend to be gradually integrated and / or replaced by better focused technical agreements of a more limited scope.

The latest bilateral endeavour, in which the DG for Cultural Promotion and Co-operation has engaged, is the joint organisation of full scale yearly cultural events in given countries, selected according to foreign policy priority criteria. The first of these events was Italia-Giappone (2001), followed by Italia-Russia (2004-2005), and by Italia in Cina (2006). These "years" host a whole range of cultural activities - from block buster exhibitions, to touring of major theatre companies and opera houses, from film festivals to scientific conferences and seminars - which are aimed at giving the widest possible representation of the highlights of Italian cultural and artistic life. During the same years, or immediately after, reciprocal cultural and artistic representation is made to the Italian public by the partner countries. Besides the exchanges of performances, exhibitions and events, some artistic co-productions also take place. Given the limited financial resources of the DG's budget (134 million euro in 2003, more than half of which absorbed by the costs of its educational and scientific activities), other ministries and the regions, along with Savings Banks Foundations and corporate sponsors (including FIAT, Ferrari, etc...) have been contributing to the costs of these events.

It should be added that an enhanced promotion of the Italian language abroad - with a particular focus on the Americas, and on countries with huge Italian Diasporas - has also been pursued with some success by the DG in recent years. An encouraging increase in the number of students learning the Italian language in the Italian Cultural Institutes Abroad (+38% between 1995 and 2000) was highlighted in a survey carried out in 2003 by the Ministry (T. De Mauro, 2003). Nevertheless, the same study reported that the supply of Italian language teaching is not able to satisfy a much increased demand and that more efforts should be made to remedy this situation.

Regarding multilateral cultural co-operation, since the loss of competency for cultural activities related to the EU and the Council of Europe after the 2000 reform (see above), the DG's main competency for co-operating with international organisations relates to UNESCO, where the focus of Italian activities has mostly been on heritage (support to the World Heritage Centre, archaeological missions, etc...), (see also 2.4.3).

Italy/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.3 European / international actors and programmes

Italy has always been actively involved in European joint cultural programmes with the Council of Europe and the European Union. As far as the latter are concerned, it should be mentioned that, according to the recent comprehensive list of Culture 2000 programmes released by the European Commission - further analysed by the "Budapest Cultural Observatory" - Italy has been the most frequent winner of the 1 078 programmes financed by the EU in the years 2000-2006, with a 20% share, and led the list in each of the seven years. It is also worth mentioning that this has been the case not only for the heritage field, for which Italy has an acknowledged bias, but for the other cultural fields as well.

The DG for Cultural promotion and Co-operation is responsible for monitoring, in collaboration with the Ministry for Heritage, the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and the closely related UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, both adopted by Italy, respectively, in February and September 2007.

Italy/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.4 Direct professional co-operation

The projects of professional international cooperation in the arts and culture in which Italy has recently engaged are countless, and a comprehensive picture cannot be drawn, given the extreme fragmentation of the actors involved (see 2.4.2). This chapter will therefore focus, by way of example, on a specific project first experimentally initiated by the drama critic Franco Quadri, in cooperation with a wide range of internationally well known theatre professionals, in the framework of ETI / Ente Teatrale Italiano, the national arm's length theatre institute (see 3.1 and 5.3.2).

Ecole des Maitres, currently renamed the Thierry Salmon Project after the name of the late Belgian theatre director, is an innovative multi-annual educational and artistic project dating back to the 1990s. Led by theatre professionals, it is aimed at putting in contact a chosen number of young professional actors from various European countries (Belgium, France and Italy, later joined by Portugal and Spain), with differing artistic approaches to the most important and innovative international stage masters: from Grotowsky to Ronconi, from Peter Stein to Lev Dodin, from Lassalle to Vassiliev, and from Dario Fo to Nekrosius.

The experiment has been developed in travelling workshops, in several languages, taking place each year in different countries, generally ending with a final public performance, when not in a full-fledged professional show.

In its 12 years of life, it has been supported, under alias, by the ministries for culture of Italy, France, Belgium, Portugal, and by the Moscow Drama School. Given its acknowledged contribution to the creation of a common, transnational European theatrical culture, it has also often benefited from the financial support of the European Commission through Culture 2000.

Italy/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.5 Cross-border intercultural dialogue and co-operation

As already mentioned (see 2.4.1), cross border cooperation in technical assistance and managerial and manpower training in the heritage field have acquired a growing relevance since the end of the 1990s, also due to an internationally acknowledged Italian leadership in these matters. These initiatives are carried out by the DG for Cooperation and Development or by the DG for Cultural Promotion and Cooperation, with the technical and scientific assistance of the Ministry for Heritage, and in some cases with the financial support of UNESCO and / or the World Bank. Other cultural cooperation initiatives by the Ministry for Heritage, in particular in the Mediterranean region, take place in the framework of the European Union programmes, like EUROMED.

These kinds of cooperation programmes, mainly dealing with an organic technical assistance in the rescue of archaeological sites and historical city centres, are particularly favoured, not only for their undoubted support to a sustainable economic development and in providing qualified occupations, but also - last but not least - for their great potential in promoting intercultural dialogue. Close cooperation in the conservation and re-appropriation of their country's heritage and identity is acknowledged as the Italian way to contribute to better mutual comprehension and understanding.

Whereas, up to the 1990s, Italian heritage cooperation programmes have mainly benefited the Mediterranean countries, in the subsequent years, there has been an extension towards Latin America (Cuba, Equador...) and towards key troubled countries of the Middle East. In Iran, and, in particular, in post war Afghanistan and in Iraq, Italian archaeological missions and restoration teams are actively engaged in the rescue of dispersed and damaged heritage artefacts and in the support and fostering of infringed cultural identities.

In the past few years, close cooperation has been established by the Ministry for Heritage also with China, with fruitful common work for the installation of the new Xian Museum, for the restoration of parts of the Great Wall, the Sublime Harmony Pavilion of the Prohibited City, etc. Plans for creating a joint poly-functional Chinese Italian Centre for Heritage Protection, in Beijing, are presently under way, with a view to pursuing new advanced research partnerships and pilot projects in the field of digital cataloguing and the application of satellite technologies for archaeological prospects.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section

Italy/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.6 Other relevant issues

Information is currently not available.

Italy/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.1 Main elements of the current cultural policy model

The Italian cultural policy model may be considered from an administrative and from an economic point of view.

The administrative model has traditionally been one of direct intervention and involvement of public administration in the support of cultural activities, and, in many cases, in the management of cultural institutions (museums, sites, theatres, etc.), through national ministries or regional, provincial and municipal ad hoc departments ("assessorati alla cultura"). A few quasi-independent (arm's length) public bodies do exist - for instance, at national level, the Venice Biennale, ETI (the Italian Theatre Institute), the Supervisory Authority for Communication, etc. - but they are the exception and not the rule.

The economic model is closely connected to a mixed economy system, with the public sector historically being the primary funding source for heritage, museums, archives and libraries, and, to a certain extent, for the performing arts. The cultural industries - with the exception of RAI - are mainly supported by the marketplace, although supplemented by public subsidies, in case of poor market performance. State support for the press, in particular, increased tremendously during the 1990s, to make up for a loss of income in sales. However, due to heavy constraints on the national budget, in the past few years governments have been strenuously promoting a more direct involvement of the private sector. Sponsors, donors, and last but not least, the marketplace, are strongly encouraged to increase their funding to both the cultural industries and the fields of heritage and the performing arts(see also 5.3, 7.2, and 7.3).

Italy/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.2 National definition of culture

In Italy there is no official definition of "culture", nor are the boundaries of the cultural field clearly outlined by government action. The fairly recent rationalisation of most of the cultural competencies under one single ministry was, in fact, the outcome of a very long and fairly empirical process (see also 1).

On the other hand, Italy has always been actively involved in the theoretical work carried out by international organisations aimed at establishing a common definition of culture, which is considered a precondition for pursuing statistical harmonisation and comparability among the countries involved (action was undertaken first by UNESCO, through its Framework for Cultural Statistics, and subsequently by the EU, through the Eurostat Working Group on Cultural statistics)

The present Eurostat definition of the cultural sector, agreed upon by the Italian government as well as by the other EU governments, covers the following domains: heritage; archives; libraries; visual arts and architecture; performing arts; books and the press; cinema and the audiovisual sector.

Italy/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.3 Cultural policy objectives

Within the broader framework of the cultural objectives pursued by the Italian Constitution (see 1), the following more detailed objectives are defined by Leg. Decree 368/1998, by which the new Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities was created:

Although there is no automatic correlation of these objectives with the cultural policy principles of the Council of Europe, it should be suggested that objective a) appears to be strictly connected with identity issues, whereas objectives c), d) and e) are related to creativity issues. On the other hand, the other two more socially relevant cultural policy principles of the Council of Europe - i.e. diversity and participation in cultural life - have not been mentioned by Decree 368 among the Ministry's objectives. In fact, there seems to be some enduring delay in pursuing strategies to overcome the country's strong social and geographical imbalances regarding access to cultural life, as well as in acknowledging the potentially relevant role of culture in fostering social cohesion and mutual understanding in an increasingly multicultural society. It is no coincidence if, unlike in other countries, no administrative units are entrusted with these matters within the ministry responsible for culture.

Italy/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

Three different government coalitions followed one another in the past ten years.

The main priorities of the centre-left coalition in the years 1995-2001 - set out first by Minister Walter Veltroni and then by Minister Giovanna Melandri - can be outlined as follows:

As far as the centre-right government (2001-2006) was concerned, the need for a comprehensive Ministry for Culture and an enhanced role for culture in economic development has been endorsed. However, Minister Giuliano Urbani and Minister Rocco Buttiglione's cultural priorities have been more coherent with a neo-liberal ideological approach. Far-reaching innovations in cultural legislation were adopted in 2004 (see 5), notably inspired by the following principles:

These extensive and profound changes in legislation, dealing with issues at the core of arts and culture as well as of information and communication policies, were accompanied by heated debates in Parliament as well as in the press and in society at large.

As for the priorities of the centre-left government which took office in May 2006, besides the emphasis put by Minister Francesco Rutelli on "culture as a public mission" and on the role of culture in fostering Italian national identity, other policy priorities are outlined in a Plan drafted by the Inter-ministerial Study Commission for the problems of cultural financing, with the joint participation of experts from the Ministries for Heritage and for the Economy:

Additional priorities can be singled out from the Ministry's 2007 General Direction for Administrative Action:

Italy/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.1 Cultural minorities, groups and communities

The issue of cultural minorities has become a very important issue in Italy in recent times. It is necessary, however, to distinguish between autochthonous minorities, established in Italy centuries ago, and eterochthonous minorities: that is, the constantly growing number of migrants from Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

On the one hand, the rights of the autochthonous, officially recognised cultural minorities (Germans and Ladins in Bolzano, Slovenians and Croatians in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Greeks and Albanians in Southern Italy and Sicily, Catalans in Sardinia) have been well safeguarded through national and regional legislation (most notably by Law 482/1999), and guaranteed by Article 6 of the Constitution. They all enjoy citizen status and the related civic and cultural rights, particularly on language matters.

The only exception is represented by the Roma community, still significantly segregated, although 70 000 out of the 160 000 Roma and Sinti living in Italy enjoy citizen status. Following new migrations from Romania and the Balkans since the late 1990s, and following the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU in January 2007, this community has expanded significantly. In fact, unlike other European countries (e.g. France, Germany, Spain and UK), Italy has not envisaged any temporary restriction to arrivals from new members states, which has caused tensions around swelling nomad camps and growing crime. As this led, in turn, to an increase in acts of violence against and discrimination of the Roma, Italy (along with 13 other EU countries) was rebuked by the European Commission in the summer of 2007 for not complying with its directive against discrimination, concerning not only to the labour market, but also social security, education, housing, etc.... Partly in response to this controversy, the Ministry of Social Solidarity has allocated 3 million euro to an integration project for Roma in five Italian cities (e.g. dismantling of nomad ghetto-camps, education programmes for children, creation of job opportunities for adults). Furthermore, a new bill is being drafted by the Ministry of the Interior, aimed at recognising Roma and Sinti as a linguistic minority; at granting citizenship to stateless individuals; and at engaging minors.

As for the cultural integration of new migrant communities, Italy is only now starting to deal with the issue of developing innovative policies. Immigration from the less developed areas is a relatively new phenomenon in our country. It gradually gained momentum after the 1970s, with the number of regular foreign residents virtually doubling every 10 years, and further accelerating after 2000. According to the latest data, foreign residents in Italy amounted to 3 012 000 in 2006; considering the number of illegal immigrants (around 760 000), the actual amount could be about 3 800 000, accounting for nearly 7% of the total Italian population

Figure 1:    Foreign residents with a regular residence permit, years 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2005
Sources:    Caritas Migrantes, ISTAT, Fondazione ISMU, 2007.

This increase is mostly due to our country's rapidly ageing population and the consequent demand for and immigrant labour force, as well as to Italy's geographical position at the crossroads between the African and the Asian continent, and at the doorstep of Eastern Europe. In fact, immigration from the latter has grown exponentially in recent years.

Table 1:     Foreign residents with a regular residence permit: most represented nationalities, 2005

Country of origin



271 491


256 916


239 728


115 087


114 165


74 987


73 191


61 540

Serbia and Montenegro

52 272


51 832


48 717


47 085


46 834


45 156


45 006

Total 15 countries

1 544 007

Source:      ISTAT elaboration on data by the Ministry of the Interior, 2007.

Table 1 shows that Romanians are the biggest European immigrant community, followed by Albanians and Ukrainians; migrants from African countries still mainly come from Morocco. As for Asia, the Chinese community has known a sharp increase in the past decade, outweighing the Filipinos who arrived in Italy with the first migratory waves; the highest percentage of foreigners from Latin America comes from Peru and Ecuador.

The most recent evolution in the socio-demographic makeup of Italy's population is particularly evident in schools: according to Fondazione ISMU (2007), foreign students increased more than eight-fold in the past decade, and now account for around 4.8% of the overall school population.

Table 2:     Foreign students in Italian schools: 2000-2006

School year


% of the overall
school population


147 406



181 767



232 766



282 683



361 576



424 683


Source:      Fondazione ISMU elaboration on data by the Ministry of Education, 2006.

The impact of this constantly growing migratory wave on the Italian society cannot be fully understood without taking into account the huge and painful Diaspora experienced by our country mainly between the late 19th and the early 20th century, estimated today at around 60 million people of Italian origin scattered in five continents. This abrupt shift from being a country of emigration to becoming a country of immigration took Italy by surprise: unlike post-colonial countries such as Great Britain, and France our nation had first to deal with emergency issues such as welcoming and assisting the growing wave of newcomers, and establishing a legal framework to regulate this new phenomenon. In fact, legislation dealing with immigration adopted since the 1990s may be described as a work in progress, still lurching from integration to expulsion, subject also to the shifting political viewpoints of the state and local governments.

Law 39/1990 was the first piece of legislation to deal with the issue of integrating the newcomers, besides giving amnesty to immigrants who had arrived in Italy before 1989, and trying to regulate further access to the country. Subsequently, while the migratory influx coming from the Balkans gained further momentum, Leg. Decree 286/1998 put immigration on a more legal footing, by also providing entitlements to basic social services. A new Law 189/2002 was adopted when the influx of illegal migrants grew to inexorable levels and xenophobic pressures came from the Northern League (one of the political parties forming the past centre right coalition). While tightening border controls, making access to Italian citizenship more difficult, and introducing a highly restrictive immigration regime, Law 189 paradoxically produced the biggest amnesty of illegal immigrants ever witnessed in Italy (703 000 between 2002 and 2004). Although this amnesty has helped to regularise the pre-existing situation, it has made residence permits far more difficult to obtain and to renew, and caused a sharp increase in the number of expulsions: 120 000 between 2002 and 2004.

With the newly elected centre-left coalition, a shift in policy has once again occurred, with the integration of "new minorities" ranking high among political priorities. One of the first measures endorsed by Giuliano Amato, Minister of the Interior, has in fact been a draft Law on Citizenship (August 2006), which has been passed by the Council of Ministers in the spring of 2007 and is now facing parliamentary debate. The key points of the proposal are the following: the minimum required length of legal residence in Italy to apply for citizenship is halved to 5 years; ius soli (citizenship acquired by birth in a given territory) is introduced for foreign children born in Italy from (at least) one parent who has been regularly living in our country for the past 5 years; immigrants applying for citizenship will have to pass a test (adequate knowledge of the Italian language and culture) and swear an oath; and finally, the foreigner's «effective degree of integration should be ascertained». To fully understand the potential impact of this draft law, it is worth noting that today around 30% of immigrants with a regular residence permit have been living in Italy for at least 5 years; no wonder the proposal has met fierce opposition from traditionally xenophobic parties like the Northern League, although similar rules apply in several countries with a long tradition of immigration, like France, Great Britain, the Netherlands and the U.S.

Alongside this important measure on citizenship, a new Law on Immigration has been drafted by the Ministries of the Interior and Social Solidarity. The draft law, now facing a heated debate in Parliament, is meant to promote "regular immigration" by planning migratory flows to match the growing demand for an immigrant labour force on a three-yearly basis; grant longer residence permits based on the typology of labour contract; create employment lists abroad, with preferential access for individuals with high professional skills. Another key innovation will be the right for regular immigrant residents for at least five years to vote in administrative elections.

Whatever the outcome of parliamentary debate on the draft laws on citizenship and immigration, both legal and illegal migrants are already entitled to the basic welfare measures enjoyed by all Italian citizens, in particular the right to education, social security, and national healthcare services. On the other hand, their fundamental right to culture and freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the Constitution, has not yet been recognised and explicitly promoted by the state administration with adequate legislative measures.

This gap has been only partly filled by recent measures at the regional and local level. There are now several regional laws on the social integration of migrant residents, aimed at supporting, among other things, "intercultural education and communication" and the "safeguard of cultural identities" (e.g. Emilia Romagna's Regional Law 5/2004, Friuli Venezia Giulia's Regional Law 5/2005, Liguria's Regional Law 7/2007). However, it should be noted that - as it still often happens, not only in Italy, but elsewhere in Europe - cultural matters concerning immigrant communities are automatically assigned to social policy and do not seem to concern cultural administrators / institutions and the arts sector as a whole.

One exception to the rule is the "Porto Franco" project, promoted by the DG Education, Heritage and Cultural Activities of Regione Toscana. Since 1999, the idea of Tuscany as a "free port" open to all kind of diversities (genre, age, cultural background, etc.) has taken shape in a network involving the regional administration, Tuscany's 10 Provinces, more than 200 city councils and nearly 100 public and private "intercultural centres", through a bottom-up and a top-down process simultaneously. The themes underlying the project range from culture to town-planning and from health to the environment. To support intercultural strategies, Regional Law 29/2000 and Regional Law 33/2005 have been issued, the latter conceiving intercultural practices as a key foundation for the development of contemporary culture.

At the local level, the City of Rome stands out for its innovative attitude towards civic integration of immigrant communities. A Special Councillor for Multi-ethnic Policies has been appointed in 2001, four Assistant City Councillors elected by migrant residents, and a great effort placed on the creation of a network of formal and informal representative bodies, including the Foreign Citizens' Council of Representatives and the Council of Religions, in charge of promoting ethnic, spiritual and cultural pluralism.

Italy/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.2 Language issues and policies

Legislation relating to minority languages issues is described in 5.1.9.

One of the most important public cultural institutions supporting minority languages is the Slovenian Theatre in Trieste (Slovensko Stalno Gledalishe), created by the autonomous region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, and presently one of the 15 "teatri stabili", the category of drama theatres most subsidised by the Italian state.

In sharp contrast with the safeguard enjoyed by historic linguistic minorities, it must be noted that none of the main languages spoken by the over 3 million foreigners presently living in Italy (see 4.2.1) have so far been officially recognised nor taught in schools, consequently raising the serious problem of maintaining the cultural identity of migrant communities for the sake of future generations. In Rome, the Chinese community has long been asking in vain for the establishment of a Chinese school. In 2005 and 2006, there was repeated turmoil in Milan about whether to officially recognise an Islamic school using the Arab language; recognition was denied for ideological rather than linguistic reasons and the school temporarily closed down, but finally re-opened.

However, sporadic initiatives for the teaching of migrant communities' native languages have recently been taken by some regional, provincial and local administrations.

As far as the media are concerned, the new minority languages have no access to national TV and radio networks, although there are private local radio stations broadcasting in the respective languages. On the other hand, minority languages are broadly catered for by the press; 28 newspapers are published in 20 languages in Rome alone. It is worth noting that 14 out of these 28 newspapers are published by Stranieri in Italia, with financial support from advertising revenues generated from Western Union, the company which runs most of the financial transactions for migrants' money transfers to their homeland.

Italy/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.3 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

As Italy tends to deal with the most recent migratory waves in terms of a "socio-economic emergency" (see 4.2.1), it is hardly surprising that no clear vision of the policy challenges posed by the "new" forms of cultural diversity has been developed, nor any comprehensive cultural policy document drafted, most notably at a national level.

Public actors

The state

Due to its relatively short history as a country of immigration and to the constantly shifting moods of political coalitions (it is quite revealing that the latest Caritas / Migrantes dossier on immigration has been entitled "Beyond alternate government"), Italy's "model of integration" is more difficult to pinpoint than in other European countries. The prevailing trend at the state level has, so far, been to devise policies promoting a balance between the safeguarding of identity and integration: the creation of a Council for Italian Islam (see below) is a case in point, aiming at a "harmonious incorporation" of the Muslim component - which is recognised and accepted - within Italian society.

In Italy, "intercultural dialogue" has been primarily entrusted to the Ministry of the Interior, which is also the main body responsible for the government's legislative initiatives (see 4.2.1). Moreover, the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration is responsible for the safeguarding of civil rights with regard to: immigration, asylum, citizenship, religious faiths and "historical" linguistic minorities. In 2005, the Ministry set up a Council for Italian Islam, to gain advice on policies regarding Muslim immigration in Italy and civil rights issues, by "promoting an institutional dialogue with Muslim communities living in Italy ..... in order to identify the most adequate solutions for an harmonious incorporation of such communities in Italian society, in line with the Constitution and the Italian law".

In April 2007, the Ministry also presented the Charter of Values, Rights and Integration. Initially promoted to address the growing controversy caused within the Council by its Muslim Brotherhood component, the Charter concerns not only Muslim communities, but any immigrant wishing to apply for citizenship. Key themes of the document are the rejection of the concept of "holy war", the respect for freedom of conscience, the freedom to choose one's religion, and gender equality. According to Minister Amato, the document will not have a binding value, but «may provide useful guidelines for the integration process and the path toward citizenship of immigrant communities».

Another key actor is the Ministry of Social Solidarity, which is responsible, alongside the planning of migrant workers' flows, for the coordination of policies aimed at promoting the integration of migrant communities (e.g. cultural mediation activities, language courses, courses on Italian culture and civics).

As the steady increase of migratory flows, in recent years, has had its most dramatic impact on the make-up of the school population (see 4.2.1), it is not surprising that the Ministry of Education is a third key player in the promotion of intercultural dialogue in Italy. Its Memorandum entitled "Intercultural dialogue and democratic coexistence" was a groundbreaking document when it was drafted (1994), and today still provides the clearest guidelines in Italy for understanding intercultural education as a dialogical and transformative process (see 8.3.2).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is responsible for international cultural co-operation, as well as for supporting the restoration and enhancement of the cultural heritage in several countries (notably in Africa and Asia), through its Department for Cooperation and Development, also plays a relevant role (see 2.4).

More recently, the Ministry for Youth Policies and Sports Activities has become a new public actor for intercultural dialogue in Italy. Its integration policy is inspired by the constitutional principle of "pluralism", and aims at providing spaces / opportunities for an open and constructive dialogue between youths with different cultural and religious backgrounds. Together with the Ministry of the Interior, in 2007 the Ministry for Youth Policies has established a Youth Council for Religious and Cultural Pluralism, an advisory body "for the exchange of ideas... to define the key features and contents of a new notion of citizenship".

Lastly, the Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities has just started to engage in promoting broader access and participation of immigrant communities in the country's cultural life. A deputy minister has been recently entrusted with a proxy on cultural diversity, actively contributing, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the ratification of both the UNESCO Conventions on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (February 2007), and on the Protection of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (September 2007). The Ministry is also Italy's National Coordination Body for the European Union's "2008 Year of Intercultural Dialogue" (see the project on intercultural education in museums promoted with the National Ethnographic Museum "Pigorini" in Rome, involving immigrant communities in the mounting of an interactive exhibition).

Regional, Provincial and Local Authorities

The most interesting cultural programmes and pilot projects in Italy to foster intercultural dialogue are being undertaken at the local level, through the initiative of particular configurations of local authorities, non-governmental institutions and civil society.

The City of Turin, for instance, has set up in 2004 a Department for Heritage Education which is strongly committed to exploring new models of intercultural communication in museums. The programme "Heritage for all" has been specifically developed by the Department (in partnership with several centres for adult education and training, local museums and associations) to carry out research on immigrant communities' participation patterns in the city's cultural life, and to increase the intercultural competence of museum educators through training opportunities.

Some examples of regional legislation to promote intercultural dialogue are provided in 4.2.1. Intercultural education is at the heart of several programmes and activities carried out by individual schools and Intercultural Centres; although the latter term is used to describe a range of very different organisations, the prevailing typology is represented by documentation centres, set up by provincial and local administrations and primarily targeted at teachers and educators (for an updated map of intercultural centres in Italy see

In the past five years or so, several Regions and Provinces across Northern and Central Italy have also created Observatories on Immigration with the twofold purpose of monitoring the migratory flows and of assisting the regional and local administrations in devising sensible immigration policies. These bodies, however, tend to address the typical issues of first reception, employment, housing, healthcare and formal education, and do not consider culture as an area of concern. Fondazione ISMU, Regione Lombardia's partner in the Osservatorio Regionale per l'Integrazione e la Multietnicità, is one interesting exception, as it has been developing a new area of research and training since 2005, aimed at exploring the potential contribution of heritage institutions in promoting a better integration of migrant communities (S. Bodo, Cantù, Mascheroni 2007).

Private actors

Fondazione ISMU's case history also introduces us to the role of private actors (foundations, associations, charities and NGOs) in addressing the issue of intercultural dialogue, which has grown significantly in the past decade in Italy.

Catholic charities such as Caritas Italiana make a significant contribution, both in providing assistance and services to the "new citizens" and in disseminating knowledge on migration patterns and key issues affecting the country. With its yearly Dossier statistico sull'immigrazione, Caritas' Centre of Studies and Documentation is one of the most reliable and comprehensive sources of information on immigration in Italy. In the past ten years, Caritas Diocesana of Rome has been promoting the Forum per l'Intercultura, one of Italy's main intercultural education programmes, which explores different aspects of the immigrant communities' cultures, including art, cinema and literature.

Several documentation centres (mostly created by NGOs and Catholic or lay associations) also make an important contribution to intercultural awareness-building by offering scholars and researchers, operators and ordinary citizens materials on the history, sociology, politics and culture of the migrant communities' countries of origin, as well as on multicultural society at large. The Documentation Centre of the Rome-based Archivio dell'Immigrazione, for example, gives access to a huge, regularly updated, audiovisual archive on the issues of immigration, racism and political asylum, a rich library with the most significant publications on migration, a collection of immigration laws, and conference proceedings, etc. The Archive also promotes intercultural education courses and publishes the quarterly review Caffè, devoted to migrant literatures.

An increasingly important role in promoting immigrant communities' cultures in the host country, as well as the accessibility of Italian culture for foreign residents, is played by associations, both foreign and Italian. It is not easy to provide a reliable estimate on the number of such associations: some are nation-based; some were established to co-ordinate initiatives aimed at communities belonging to the same continent, or at promoting inter-community relationships. Across Italy there is a growing demand for formal recognition (and increased legitimacy) of these representative bodies of migrant communities, for example through the creation of a register of associations.

Last but not least, places of worship (such as churches, temples and mosques) provide key spaces and opportunities for social and cultural interaction, where language courses, cultural and sport events, theatre and music performances are organised alongside catechism, sung masses and religious festivities.

Strategies and programmes

While witnessing the growing interest of both public and private actors in the issue of intercultural dialogue, many programmes and initiatives undertaken in Italy also reveal some inconsistencies in the understanding of "intercultural dialogue" and "cultural integration" There are, in fact, two main senses in which the above terms are being used.

The first refers to "cultural integration" in a broader sense, emphasising the need to promote meaningful civic participation and political representation of immigrant communities, separately from social protection measures aimed at satisfying the most basic and immediate needs, (see, for example, the initiatives of the City of Rome described in 4.2.1). Few of the initiatives promoted as part of this strategy, however, focus on culture as a specific vehicle of integration.

The second understanding of "cultural integration" refers to culture as a policy domain (e.g. heritage, museums and exhibitions, performing and visual arts, cinema and literature, the media, etc.) and implies that there is a specific challenge to reflect the country's growing cultural diversity in civic life and identity. In this respect, local authorities (with a few notable exceptions) are only just beginning to explore the true potential of their cultural policies, institutions and activities, and there is still an evident tendency to consider the cultural life of immigrant communities as a domain of "socio-culture", if not an "option" for cultural policy makers.

The field in which cultural institutions in Italy have been more active in supporting cultural diversity is the promotion of a better understanding and greater recognition of other cultures, most notably through the organisation of festivals (e.g. world culture festivals at the Auditorium-Music Park in Rome; "Suq" Festival in Genoa; African, Asian and Latin American Film Festival in Milan) or the mounting of blockbuster exhibitions. What distinguishes most of these initiatives, however, is not so much a will to encourage attendance and participation on the part of local immigrant communities, as to promote a "knowledge-oriented multiculturalism" directed principally at the Italian public.

In fact, the key issues of allowing immigrants to safeguard their own identity by not losing contact with their homeland, language and culture, increasing the accessibility of Italian culture for foreign residents, and promoting meaningful crossovers and hybridisation between different cultures, do not seem to have received much attention by local authorities. Private organisations, on the other hand, play a vital role in this respect.

Indeed, it is thanks to the lobbying of associations and NGOs that the issue of public meeting spaces for immigrant communities, where cultural exchange and interaction can happen, has become one of the key challenges acknowledged by local authorities in many Italian cities. Examples of this type of initiative are the two Houses of Cultures that are currently being planned in Rome, both by the Province and by the City; not to mention the ongoing debate surrounding the future use of the Cinema Apollo in the Esquilino neighbourhood, the city's multiethnic heart. Another House of Cultures, promoted by the Province of Milan's Department for Culture, Cultures and Integration, will open in 2008. Although quite a few "intercultural centres" and "houses of cultures" have already been established across Italy, they have been mainly devoted to providing to immigrant social and educational services, while Rome and Milan's organisations will presumably focus on culture as a specific policy domain, and provide a much needed shared public space for genuine participation and interaction between the cities' different communities.

Another feature of the programmes and activities so far carried out throughout Italy is that "intercultural dialogue" is often simplistically mistaken with the assimilation of "new citizens" into mainstream culture. Such initiatives typically include guided tours to museums and heritage sites targeted at specific communities, often only partially successful due to the lack of consistent communication and outreach policies.

As for the emergence of innovative intercultural forms, "social theatre" is by far the most interesting and experimental field on the Italian cultural scene, with well-established companies such as Teatro dell'Angolo in Turin, Teatro delle Albe in Ravenna, Teatro di Nascosto in Volterra (see 4.2.4).

"Migrant literature" in Italian language is being promoted through specialist book publishers (e.g. Sinnos Editrice in Rome), websites (e.g. El Ghibli), anthologies and awards (e.g. Mantua-based "Eks&tra" and "Tracce diverse" in Napoli). A few examples of groundbreaking intercultural work may also be highlighted in the museum field, in spite of the highly conservative nature of this sector (see Fondazione ISMU's website "Patrimonio e Intercultura",

An interesting example of trans-border intercultural dialogue is Fondazione Pistoletto's "Love Difference - Artistic Movement for an Inter Mediterranean Politic", aiming to bring together people and institutions of the Mediterranean regions interested in opening new areas of thinking on multiculturalism.

For more information, see:
Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue and our Intercultural Dialogue section.

For more information on the government's National Strategy for the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue please see:

Italy/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.4 Social cohesion and cultural policies

The Italian response to the new public policy awareness of the multidimensional and interdependent nature of social exclusion- which is leading, in some member states of the EU, to a growing recognition of the potential impact of culture on the other dimensions of exclusion (economic, social, political) - is somewhat mixed.

Very little in the way of central government social policy focuses on culture as a specific issue which might be important to social inclusion; the first two National Action Plans for social inclusion (2001-2003 and 2003-2005) only vaguely mention the need to guarantee equal opportunities of access to services (cultural services included).

Likewise, there is hardly any explicit policy on the part of the Ministry for Heritage to promote social cohesion, as it clearly emerged from a transnational study carried out by the University of Northumbria on behalf of the DG for Employment and Social Affairs (Gordon et al., 2004). This is hardly surprising, as Italian cultural policies have long seen heritage protection as their main and unquestioned purpose, and have paid very scant attention to issues of access, participation and cultural diversity. The only notable exception with regard to the development of "socially inclusive" policies is the Ministry for Heritage's involvement in the implementation of the "Single Programming Document 2000-2006" on Italian Objective 1 regions (the economically, socially and culturally deprived regions of Mezzogiorno, see also 1), which singles out "culture" (linked to economic and social development) as one of the six priority themes.

The local level, where tradition and practice are well-rooted, has in fact turned out to be the natural arena for co-operation between social and cultural agendas. Explicit references to the promotion of cultural access and participation, as well as to the safeguard of "cultural identity", may be found in many Regional Social Plans; and there is quite an impressive range of successful programmes and activities linking culture with social inclusion being developed on the ground, although they are often undermined by the discontinuity of resources made available at both national and local level.

A growing body of evidence is available on such projects, thanks to the above mentioned study of the University of Northumbria and a number of research projects recently carried out by ETI / Ente Teatrale Italiano (ETI et al., 2003), and by Rome-based European Centre for Cultural Organisation and Management (Da Milano, De Luca, 2005; ECCOM, 2006) Most of the activities documented in these research projects are planned and implemented through more or less structured partnerships between cultural institutions and social, welfare, health and learning agencies. It is worth noting, however, that the tradition of "social theatre" in Italy is by far more established and well-rooted than is the case with heritage institutions, which have only recently started to explore their potential contribution towards combating social exclusion. This different degree of "maturity" is also reflected in inter-institutional agreements such as the joint protocols signed by ETI and the Ministry of Justice for the rehabilitation of young offenders (1996) and the creation of a "National Centre for Theatre and Prisons" (2000). More recently (April 2006) a joint protocol has been signed by the Ministry for Heritage and the Ministry of Justice for the rehabilitation of offenders through performing arts programmes aimed at providing them with professional skills and re-employment opportunities.

The above mentioned surveys also show that the emphasis is placed on a few well-established areas of intervention (in particular physical and mental disability and, in the performing arts sector, prisons), while other aspects of social exclusion remain largely unexplored (e.g. the cultural rights of immigrant communities). Moreover, in the heritage sector, a further limit is represented by the clear priority given to developing physical access, at the expense of cultural access, participation and representation of minority and / or disadvantaged groups.

On the whole, however, it is possible to identify a number of consolidated best practices, and this shows how, in spite of the lack of an adequate institutional, legislative and policy-making framework, the work jointly carried out at a local level by cultural and social operators to combat exclusion can be both fruitful and creative.

Italy/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.5 Media pluralism and content diversity

Notwithstanding the adoption, since the 1980s, of an Antitrust Law concerning the press (Law 416/1981), followed by two other Laws - 223/1990 and 249/1997 - concerning both radio television and the press, subsequently modified by Law 112/2004 (for a more detailed description of antitrust legislation see 5.3.8), the high degree of mass media concentration in Italy appears to have been and to be unparalleled in Europe.

As Italy was the first country in our continent to have broken the monopoly of the national broadcasting corporation in 1976, during the following years the Italian television system gradually took the shape of a substantial duopoly, dominated by three public networks (RAI) - which draw their resources both from license fees and advertising - and three private ones (Mediaset), financed through advertising. These six (out of seven) national networks, which coexist with hundreds of local TV stations, jointly accounted for more than 90% of the audience. The fact that Law 112/2004 on Television, the so-called "Gasparri Law" (see 5.3.8), practically endorsed the existing duopoly, and that the former Prime Minister (being the private owner of Mediaset) has been in control, for five years, of both the public and private national networks, has given rise to much heated debates about the non existence of pluralism in the television field in Italy. The adoption of Law 215/2004 on the regulation of conflicts of interest - which forbids the Prime Minister and other official's direct involvement in the management of corporations, albeit allowing them not to give up ownership - has not appeased criticism.

Duopoly in the broadcasting system has subsequently been matched by monopoly in Pay TV in 2004, when the two companies - Stream and Telepiu - have been bought by Rupert Murdoch's satellite Pay TV Sky Italia (4 million subscribers in 2006). On the other hand, content diversity has improved greatly thanks to the myriad of diversified satellite channels.

Pluralism in information and freedom of expression in the media, however, are still not fully guaranteed in Italy, as the existent duopoly has succeeded in hampering the accesses of new broadcasting companies and / or in not allowing them to grow. In summer 2007, the European Commission warned Italy, threatening a heavy fine if it would persist in not emending legislation so as to bring to an end a monopolistic situation endangering the development of a free and competitive market in the media field. Draft reform laws of television and the audiovisual system elaborated by the Minister of Communication in order to modify the Gasparri Law, should soon be discussed by the Parliament (see 5.3.8), in a climate of much heated debate.

Concentration appears to be less appalling but, nevertheless, quite noteworthy also for the publishing industry, considering that the publishing of newspapers and periodicals is mainly in the hands of an industrial oligopoly, and that three newspapers, and the largest publishing company of books and periodicals in the country - Mondadori - as well as Einaudi, Bompiani, Electa, etc., are presently also owned by Mediaset.

As for the share of domestic vs. foreign media programmes, Italy is heavily dependent on imports, although official data on this phenomenon are not available. However, it should be noted that the production of Italian TV fiction - having become recently more appealing to domestic audiences than imported fiction - underwent a quite substantial increase in the past few years. Regarding cinema, the market share of Italian films (co-productions included) in the past few years has ranged from 22.2% in 2002 to 24.8% in 2006: that is, lower than in France, but nevertheless higher than in most European countries.

Italy/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.6 Culture industries: policies and programmes

Although there is no official definition of cultural industries in Italy, what is generally understood under this term are those cultural goods and services which can be "technically reproduced" (Walter Benjamin), or "industrially produced and commercially sold" (Edgar Morin): books, the press, radio- television, cinema, recorded music, and the new media.

The 1990s was a problematic and challenging period for the Italian cultural industries. Compared with the positive economic and financial trends in the heritage field and in artistic and cultural activities, the development trend in the cultural industries lagged behind (Rapporto sull' economia della cultura in Italia 1990-2000). Regarding financial resources, while advertising, though less dynamic than in the previous decade, did quite well, overall stagnation in household expenditure hindered this sector (see 6). This economic crisis especially affected the press: as Italians read less and less newspapers, a loss of 21% in income from sales could not be compensated by a substantial increase in advertising, in a country where most of the financial revenue from advertising is drawn by television. This resulted in an increased state support for the press (see 5.3.8): from 439 million euro in 2000, to 492 million in 2006 (+12%), as stated by a recent report on Daily, periodical and multimedia publishing (2007), issued by the Authority for Guarantees in Communications. The report is critical of the support system of the press deemed by the Court of Accounts as characterised by "a stratification of heterogeneous direct and indirect measures... where it is not easy to single out an organic and well planned underlying strategy aimed at the protection of pluralism".

As for the once thriving Italian cinema industry, the production of films fell to an unprecedented low level around the mid 1990s - from 136 national films in 1991 to 77 films in 1995 - to rise to 101 films in 2000, with a parallel increase in audience figures, and thus in income. Further increases occurred subsequently - 138 films were produced in 2004 - partly due to the implementation of an important regulatory measure, Law 122/1996, which provided for a reallocation of part of the financial resources collected by major television companies - no less than 20% of licence fee revenues for RAI, or 10% of advertising revenues for national commercial networks (Mediaset) - to the production and acquisition of Italian and European films and audiovisual programmes. Despite some controversy on the criteria of its implementation, the law has given a strong boost to the new production of films and TV programmes, as well as to the employment opportunities for actors and audiovisual professionals.

In 2005, production decreased to only 98 films, as a result of conflict between the state and the regions over the new Law 28/2005 on Cinema (see chapter 5.3), and rose again to 116 film in 2006. These ups and downs, so closely linked to legislation, show the relative importance of public subsidies, as compared with market revenues, as a determinant to the level of film production in Italy.

As for specific professional training programmes available in Italy for cultural industry professionals, there has been a boom in university courses in recent years. The dozen university faculties on "communication" - the most well known being Roma La Sapienza and Bocconi in Milan - and the numerous master degrees for journalism, the audiovisual professions, media economics and management etc. are in such an over supply as to be named "a factory for unemployment". On the other hand, the most well known high school for cinema professions - the "Centro sperimentale di cinematografia" in Rome, created in the 1930s and directly attached to the Ministry for Heritage - is presently suffering from severe financial constraints.

Italy/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.7 Employment policies for the cultural sector

There is no official recent data on the number of employed in the cultural sector in Italy.

According to a EUROSTAT document released in spring 2007 (Cultural statistics in Europe - An overview), the number of people employed in Italy in 2005, in the broadly defined cultural sector (heritage, museums and libraries, visual and performing arts, the audio visual and publishing industries), has been estimated at 464 000, relating to 2.1% of total employment, slightly under the EU average of 2.4%. However, it should be noted that, unlike in other countries, data concerning Italy is only estimated, due to insufficient detail in ISTAT classification digits for the national labour force survey.

The last real data, elaborated by ISTAT in 2001, upon the request of the Minister for Heritage, dates back to the years 1993-1999, and are referable only to the more detailed ISCO data (three digits) related to cultural professions. They are of great interest, however, because they show a very rapid employment growth in the second half of the 1990s. The total number of artists and high level professionals (writers, journalists, archaeologists, performing artists, visual artists, etc.) occupied in the cultural field, and of the highly skilled technicians active in the heritage and in the cultural industries, amounted to 191 649 in 1999 (Table 3). Most significantly, the increase in cultural employment over the six year period 1993-1999 was as high as 35%, against only 1% in general employment.

Table 3:     Number of professionals working in the cultural sector by type of occupation, 1999 and variations 1993-1999

Professional categories


% Var.

Writers, journalists, archaeologists, art historians, translators, etc.

46 499


Painters, sculptors, designers, restores, etc.

63 762


Performing artists: musicians, actors, dancers, directors, etc.

36 318


Intermediate professions in cultural and recreational services
(technicians, cultural entertainers, etc.)

45 070



191 649


Source:      ISTAT / ISCO.

It should be added that a much lower rise in employment (+17%) was shown for the same typology of artists and specialists by ISTAT / Census data in the decade 1981 - 1991.

If there is a lesson to be drawn from these data, it seems to be that a dynamic cultural policy, such as the one carried out in the second half of the 1990s, with a strong emphasis on stimulating supply and demand in artistic activities and cultural production, as well as with substantial capital investments in monuments, museums and cultural premises, is very likely to give a strong boost to cultural employment. In fact, a higher increase in the rate of employment was to be noted in those cultural sectors - like heritage- which saw the highest rise in public l funding, thus supporting the view that public expenditure is one of the main determinants of cultural employment. Fewer new jobs were created in the performing arts and cinema, where state expenditure has been rather stagnant.

Italy/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.8 New technologies and cultural policies

The Italian government's interest in the Information society was marked in 1999 by the creation of an ad hoc Interministerial Committee co-ordinating the initiatives of the different ministries in the field, and of a widely representative consultative Forum.

One of the main technological challenges that Italy will have to face in the near future is the transformation of its television system into a Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) system, which was experimentally started in 2005 on platforms operated by both RAI and Mediaset (see Gasparri Law, 5.3.8). It must be noted that the deadline for the transfer of the whole TV system to DTT, originally set by Law 112/2004 for 2006, had to be postponed first to 2009, and presently to 2012.

At the local level, some of the northern regions - like Lombardy and Emilia Romagna - and main metropolitan areas are highly committed towards the development of digital networks aimed at expanding information and services to their citizens.

While in Italy there are many artists working with new technologies, albeit without any public support, state attention is mainly focused on the use of new technologies in the conservation and cataloguing of heritage, as well as on its promotion through innovative networking and the creation of information and education services for the public, tourists, etc. (see 4.2.9).

Italy/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.9 Heritage issues and policies

The heritage has always been at the core of Italy's cultural policy. The Italian state is not only responsible for the strategic task involved in the protection of the country's extremely rich and multilayered heritage, but has direct responsibility for the management of a huge number of national heritage institutions, including 196 museums, 205 monuments and archaeological sites, 49 libraries and 100 archives.

The hottest issues currently being debated, dealing with the management and protection of such a huge heritage, are:

As far as the latter issue is concerned, the first measure has been Law 4/93, which opened the doors of national museums to private agents willing to take over the management of the so-called "auxiliary services" (bookshops and museum shops, cafeterias, merchandising, etc). Subsequent financial laws have broadened the scope of private intervention, extending it to core museum activities such as education and exhibitions. Leg. Decree 368/98 enabled the Ministry for Heritage to temporarily hand over the management of certain museums and other heritage institutions to ad hoc private foundations. Another more indulgent measure (Budget Law 2002), substantially endorsed by the new Heritage Codex (see 5.3.3) would simply allow the Ministry to privatise public services aimed at increasing access to cultural heritage. The pros and cons of these measures, progressively extending the scope of "privatisation" of the Italian heritage - which had traditionally been entrusted to the public sector - are not without debate (S. Settis, 2002). Until a clear distinction between the private profit and non profit sector was introduced by an amendment to the Codex in 2004 (see 5.3.3), there have been some lingering fears of an increased "commercialisation" of our artistic and historic assets.

Experiments with the public-private partnership have, so far, been carried out either at the local level (Rome, Venice...), or in the framework of state-local cooperation: in fact, the first national museum to be turned into a public / private foundation in 2005, with the participation of Regione Piemonte and the Turin Province and Municipality, has been the Egyptian Museum of Turin (see 7.1).

Italy's action in the heritage field is presently more and more focused on the use and experimentation of new technologies for the conservation and promotion of its historical and artistic assets - satellite archaeological prospects, digital cataloguing systems, information services for visitors, etc. - often in partnership with other countries in the framework of EU projects (see 4.2.8).

Of particular note for its uniqueness is the Risk Map, an enormous and technologically innovative pilot project of the Ministry for Heritage, aiming at mapping natural and human emergencies such as earthquakes, floods, pollution, etc., which often threaten monuments and sites in our country's much diversified  geographical areas. Different types of "vulnerability indexes" (static, environmental, due to overcrowding, etc...) have been elaborated in cooperation with the regions, so as to allow a systematic monitoring of the whole Italian territory.

The more recent ministerial programme ICT Culture - in which Italy is acting as a landmark at European level - is mainly focused on promoting digital cultural contents on the web. It is also focussed on fostering the digital accessibility of heritage, archives and libraries, by coordinating the existing sparse initiatives into global networks.

Italy/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.10 Gender equality and cultural policies

On the cultural demand side, the most recent cultural participation survey (ISTAT, 2006) shows that women are relatively well placed in the participation rate for cultural activities: they read more books than men (49.6% as opposed to 38.4% respectively), and are more frequent theatre goers (22% to 18%). However, they are less frequent cinema goers (47% against 51%), whereas attendance at classical music concerts is extremely limited for both sexes (9.4%).

However, women are still discriminated in the cultural labour market. In fact, female intellectuals and artists often have a hard time making a living in cultural occupations, notably in the performing arts where, according to ENPALS data (the social security agency for the performing arts), they earn, on average 35% less, and tend to be dismissed after their forties (Bodo, Spada, 2004). Music is the cultural field in which women are least represented, whereas they are doing better in the field of journalism, and often dominate in some of the less paid humanistic professions (librarians, archaeologists, art historians, etc.) However, the situation is gradually improving, as the trend in women's employment in the cultural field has been quite positive in recent years: according to the last available data (ISTAT, 2001) their ratio increased from 34% of the total cultural occupations in 1993 to 38% in 1999 (against a ratio of only 21% of females in the total working population in the same year).

The main problem is rather the very poor representation of women among gatekeepers in cultural institutions: out of 65 artistic directors of the main opera houses, theatres and orchestras in 2000, only five were women. The situation appears to be even worse in the cultural industries.

The issue of gender equality in the cultural sector had been addressed at government level in the First National Convention of Women in the Arts, organised by the Department for Equal Opportunities (Prime Minister's Office) in February 2001, and attended by a broad representation of women from the arts and the cultural field. But the decision to set up an Observatory on Women in the Arts and Culture - which had been the conference's main output - has never been implemented.

As for the representation of women's image in the Italian media, recent research carried out by "Donne in Musica" - a foundation aimed at promoting and facilitating the work of women in the music field - and CENSIS (2006), shows how unfair and biased this representation still is in Italian television programmes.

Italy/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.3 Other relevant issues and debates

Since 2000, the hottest and most debated issue has probably been the dramatic cuts in public expenditure for culture, following the relevant growth between 1996 and 2000 brought about by the dynamic cultural policy of the centre-left government of the time. Between 2000 and 2006, the centre-right government made substantial cuts in the expenditure on culture by the Ministry for Heritage: accounted expenditure decreased from 2 331 million to 1 917 million euro (not including sports) during this time - that is 22% in current euro; this means a much heavier loss when taking account of inflation and rising costs. It should be noted that, while capital expenditure was the worst hit by these cuts, the shrinking of funds also affected running costs, often hindering the daily operation of state cultural institutions: museums, libraries, archives. Notwithstanding the positive trend in provincial and municipal expenditure for culture between 2000 and 2004 (see 6.1), the deceleration in its growth rate, with respect to the late 1990s, was such that it could not make up for the heavy loss in state expenditure.

For the centre-left government, which came into power in May 2006 and had to face a difficult financial situation in containing Italy's huge deficit, immediately reversal of this negative trend in cultural expenditure has not been possible. In spite of all its efforts to increase and rationalise state expenditure, as well as to achieve a better coordination with local and private expenditure, its relative inability to substantially improve the difficult financial situation facing the cultural sector, coupled with some delays in adopting the promised reform laws - in particular the ones dealing with television - was heavily criticised. As a result, in summer 2007, a press campaign was launched by prominent personalities in the arts world, strongly arguing against the cultural policy of the centre-right, but also deploring "the way in which the present centre-left government is dealing with culture" (Marco Bellocchio, "Corriere della Sera", 12 June 2007), and even going so far as to denounce "the defeat of culture, not considered in Italy as a public good" (Claudio Abbado, "Corriere della Sera", 7 June 2007).

Interestingly, the performing arts, which had suffered most in the previous years, have been more successful than the heritage in the fight for more funds: after subsequent increases of 50 million euro in 2006 and 2007, in 2008 more substantial increases provided for in the draft budget law will allow the Fund to attain 536 million euro, thereby slightly overcoming the level reached in 2001 (525 million euro).

Italy/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.1 Constitution

The articles of the Italian Constitution of 1947 directly referring to cultural matters are Articles 9, 21 and 33 (see also 1):

On the other hand, among the articles of the Constitution providing for the creation of the regions, Article 117 gave a very narrow scope to their responsibility in cultural matters, by only limiting the devolution of national functions to "local museums and libraries".

When the regions were set up, Leg. Decree 112/1972 devolved cultural competencies to the regions according to a strict interpretation of Constitutional Article 117. This resulted in a long, partly successful, but still pending fight by the regions aimed at broadening the severe constitutional limits to their cultural actions.

Italy/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.2 Division of jurisdiction

"Decentralisation vs. centrality" as an issue in the arts and culture has actually always been widely debated in Italy. While, theoretically, all political majorities declare themselves in favour of devolving further cultural competencies to the Regions, legislation adopted throughout the years, with the aim of further decentralising cultural responsibilities, has not yet been implemented by the alternate centre-left and centre-right governments. In fact, since the creation of the regions, the Italian national administration has always been reluctant to hand over, to local government, the part of its direct managing responsibilities in the cultural field, as foreseen originally by Leg. Decree 616/1977, and later on by the so-called "Decentralisation Laws" (59/1997 and 112/1998). In fact, prominent experts of public law have been talking of "unfinished decentralisation", or "insisted centralisation" (M. Cammelli, 2003).

It should be added, however, that some inconsistencies do exist in the above mentioned legislation adopted in the 1990s, which introduced a much criticised split of core administrative functions between protection (tutela) and enhancement (valorizzazione), the latter referring to managerial functions fostering participation and access to museums and monuments, organisation of exhibitions and events, etc. Whereas, in Law 59/1997, only heritage protection (tutela) was actually listed among the cultural responsibilities to be retained by the state, and all those dealing with valorizzazione were to be devolved to regional and local authorities, Decree 112/1998 significantly extended the range of national powers, giving back to the state responsibility for the management of heritage and the performing arts, by introducing concurrent legislative competencies of the state and regions on the valorizzazione of cultural goods and activities. The controversial distinction protection / enhancement - although eventually integrated in the Constitution by Constitutional Law 3/2001, opening up Italy's institutional organisation to a more federal oriented structure - is presently under scrutiny.

For the time being, a comprehensive agreement among the different levels of government about the scope and content of the principle of "concurrent legislative competencies" in the fields of heritage and the arts still seems to be out of reach. As a result, controversies between the state and the regions have been frequently settled by the State Council or by the Constitutional Court. The new Heritage Codex (Leg. Decree 41/2004), whose Article 4 allows the Ministry responsible for heritage to devolve additional functions to the regions by stipulating ad hoc agreements (see 5.3.3), did not succeed in settling this problematic issue once and for all. However, it should be noted that fruitful cooperation between the Ministry and 17 of the 20 regions has been achieved through the 50 multilateral Framework Planning agreements signed between 1999 and 2006 (see 2.3).

On the other hand, the governance of culture has been badly affected by the centrality versus decentralisation conflict in the domain of the performing arts, where the heart of the matter actually lies in the dispute about how to allocate the Fund for the Performing Arts between the state and the regions. In fact, the allocation of financial resources to cinema in 2005 has been paralysed by these disputes (see 5.3.6). In January 2007, however, a first step towards a more concerted action among the different levels of government -"given the delay in the adjustment of legislation to Constitutional Law 3/2001" - was finally accomplished with the joint signature of an Agreement on cultural and performing arts activities among the Ministry and the regions, the provinces and the municipalities.

According to this agreement, a methodology of "concerted planning" should be adopted, by signing intergovernmental agreements aimed at pursuing, among others, the following aims: the enhancement of territorial identities; the support of young authors and of contemporary artistic activities; audience development, with a particular focus on young generations and on the underprivileged areas of Southern Italy; and, last but not least, the rationalisation of the allocation of state, regional and local financial resources, to avoid fragmentation and increase productivity. Ministerial co-financing of such agreements will be provided by establishing an ad hoc Fund of 20 million euro each for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Italy/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.3 Allocation of public funds

On the one hand, no general law exists in Italy dealing with the allocation of government funds to the cultural field as a whole. At the state level, criteria for the allocation of funds and in some cases even their precise amount, are established in several sector specific laws.

On the other hand, legislation has been recently passed to allow the allocation of additional public money derived from other sources to the cultural field to help compensate for resource c constraints. Most important are:

1. Funding culture through lottery money

Towards the end of the 1990s, the government sought alternative funding sources to face the huge burden related to the protection of Italy's exceptionally relevant and dispersed heritage. It was decided that part of the related costs would be provided from revenues generated through the national lottery.

Law 662/1996 provided for a share of the profits from the newly introduced Wednesday national lottery draw - added to the regular Saturday draw - to be given to the cultural sector. This lottery share - for which a yearly cap of 155 million euros was set - "is allocated to the Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities for the restoration and preservation of cultural, archaeological, artistic, and archival and library goods". Lottery funds - unlike statutory funds - are allocated in advance, and based on triennial plans, thus contributing to a great improvement in the planning capacity of the Ministry.

The law was first applied in 1998. At the end of the second triennial plan in 2003, more than 300 major and minor restoration projects concerning monuments, museums, archaeological parks, libraries, etc., around the country were supported via the Lottery Law.

However, due to heavy cuts in state funds for cinema and the performing arts, in 2003 the Law Governing the Lottery has been amended, to include cultural activities and the performing arts among the possible recipients of such funds. Since 2004, several national film companies, along with the opera house La Scala, were funded with lottery money to make up for budget cuts. As in some other European countries (C. Bodo, C. Gordon, D. Ilczuck, 2004), lottery funding for culture seems to be gradually changing from an additional to a substitutive funding source.

Moreover, as part of the centre-right government's strategy to reduce cultural funding, the share of lottery money, to be allocated to the Ministry for Heritage in 2006, was reduced for the first time by 40%, and subsequently restored to its previous amount by the new centre-left government.

2. Funding culture through a percentage of capital investment in infrastructure

A new company, ARCUS / Societa' per lo sviluppo dell'Arte, della Cultura e dello Spettacolo, was established under Law 291/2003, to manage funds collected under the 3% of "capital expenditure for strategic infrastructure rule" (since 2005, the percentage has actually been raised to 5%), which are additional to the ordinary budget administered by the Ministry for the Heritage.

According to Law 291, the company's mission is "the promotion, through technical, financial and managerial support, of projects and actions aiming at the restoration of cultural assets and at the promotion of activities in the field of culture and the performing arts". The share-holder of the company's capital - funded by 8 million euro in 2004 - is the Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities, and the company's board of 7 members is entirely composed of national government appointees. The organisational structure of ARCUS has been adopted by Decree 72/2004.

The way ARCUS was managed in its first three years of life has been extremely controversial, because of its highly discretionary character and its lack of transparency in financial allocations, which has resulted in what has been called a sort of "privatisation of public funds". The funds, which have been allocated to different kinds of cultural activities - from the restoration of Villa Gregoriana in Tivoli to La Scala opera theatre, from satellite monitoring of archaeological goods to the Orchestra Toscanini in Parma, etc. - actually accounted for less than expected: 2.7 million euro in 2002 and 2.5 million in 2003, whereas in 2004, they increased to as much as 57 million euro.

While confirming ARCUS as an instrument for additional funding, the centre-left government has announced a profound revision and democratisation of its structure, as well of its board appointment rules. This revision, however, has not yet been accomplished and, in the meantime, ARCUS continues to abide by the rules established by the previous government. In summer 2007, the delay was criticised by the Court of Accounts, for the excess of discretionary power and the lack of planning, transparency and sound procedures still characterising the company's management.

Italy/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.4 Social security frameworks

Artists and others employed in the cultural sector, like any other Italian citizen, are covered by the basic health insurance provided for by the National Health System.

Since the 1930s, performing artists, as well as those employed in theatres and in the audio-visual industry (radio, television, cinema, sound recording) have received social security coverage from the ENPALS / "Ente Nazionale Previdenza e Assistenza Lavoratori dello Spettacolo".

Unlike performing artists, visual artists have no special and effective social insurance. An ad hoc public institute called ENAPS (Ente Nazionale Artisti, Pittori e Scultori) is so underfinanced that it provides visual artists only with a kind of virtual social insurance.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Italy/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.5 Tax laws

Legislation to foster support for the cultural sector from private donors was introduced in the 1980s. The first of such Laws (582/82) allowed the total deduction from taxable income of all donations and sponsorship given by individuals and corporations, as well as of expenditures for the restoration of privately owned built heritage (which led to a "boom" in capital investments in the restoration of palaces, castles, and historical gardens). The amount of such incentives was, however, progressively and significantly reduced by subsequent budget laws, and in particular by the Budget Law 1992, when the tax deductions (more favourable for citizens in the higher tax brackets) were transformed into tax credits, within the limit of 19% of the amount of the donation, equal for all citizens.

After nearly twenty years, private donations are once again totally tax deductible for companies, thanks to Law 342/2000: however, the law establishes a maximum ceiling for the potential loss of revenue for the state, which cannot be exceeded (from 135 million euro for 2001 to 50 million euro for 2003). The new measure, though, does not apply to individual donors, whereas the donations by companies are tax deductible only if earmarked to a limited list of cultural institutions drawn up by the Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities. Such restrictions may have affected the law's implementation in 2001, which yielded only 15.5 million euro, in comparison to a forecasted figure of 100-150 million.

The next step envisaged by the present government in view of raising private expenditure for culture - besides a simplification of Law 342 - will be to increase tax incentives. Along with new incentives for investments in the cinema industry (see 5.3.6), incentives for individual donations, by retransforming the existing tax credits into the original, more favourable, tax deductions (see Law 382/82), are also being considered. It is estimated that - by following the US model, where around 75% of private donations are given by individuals - the introduction of higher tax relief could significantly increase private contributions to the cultural field. However, an agreement between the Ministry for Heritage and the Ministry for the Economy - historically always opposing such measures - has not yet been reached.

Finally, as shown in Table 4, the VAT rate on cultural goods is generally lower than the usual rate. However, for the category of recorded music, VHS and DVDs, the much needed VAT reduction, to foster the week demand by Italian consumers, has not been possible for the time being, as an agreement at EU level could not be found.

Table 4:     VAT rate of cultural goods and activities, 2005

Cultural goods and activities












Museums and exhibitions






Recorded music and audiovisual


Source:      Elaborated by Associazione per l'Economia della Cultura, 2005.

Italy/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.6 Labour laws

Information is currently not available.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section.

Italy/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.7 Copyright provisions

There is a long tradition of copyright in Italy. Law 633, issued in 1941, is a comprehensive and interdisciplinary law protecting property rights of writers, drama authors, film authors, musicians, visual artists (including droit de suite: see further). Responsible for the collection of copyright royalties in all the above mentioned artistic disciplines is SIAE (Societa Italiana Autori Editori).

This basic law was followed by several others, specifically designed to comply with European directives. Among these, Law 93/1992 introduced a tax on blank audiotapes and videotapes in order to compensate authors and producers for the economic damage they suffered from private copying.

It was not until 2000 that a long-overdue update of the copyright Law (248/2000) was made. The revisions acknowledged the dramatic technological changes that occurred in the cultural and communication system as a whole in the last sixty years. Significantly, Law 248 also established much stricter criminal and administrative sanctions against piracy which has become a remarkable and widespread phenomenon in Italy, as well as a constant source of contention with commercial partners. Subsequently, Decree 72/2004 provided for heavy fines and other administrative sanctions aimed at fighting the illegal distribution of films and audiovisual material protected by copyright on the web.

A further legislative measure in the copyright field has been the much delayed adoption, by Leg. Decree 118 of February 2006, of the European Directive 2001/84/Ce, concerning droit de suite for visual artists - that is the right for artists to benefit from the possible increase in the value of their work by getting a percentage of commercial transactions subsequent to the first one. In fact, the above mentioned anticipatory legal provisions for droit de suite, adopted by Italy in the framework of copyright Law 633/1941, had never been actually implemented - and would have probably never been, without prompting by the EU - also because of problems related to the notorious lack of transparency of the Italian art market. To bring more transparency into the field could thus be a positive outcome of European legislation. A quite controversial aspect of Decree 118 deals with its provision for an immediate application of droit de suite also in favour of the heirs of the dead artists, without taking advantage of the transitional period allowed by the European Directive: the living artists were in fact supposed to be the main beneficiaries of this long awaited measure. These rights, along with all the other copyrights, will be collected by SIAE and redistributed to the artists or their heirs, as soon as the implementing regulation will be adopted.

Italy/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.8 Data protection laws

Information is currently not available.

Italy/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.9 Language laws

In application of Article 6 of the Constitution - «the Republic protects linguistic minorities with special legislation» -, several national and regional laws were issued in the past decades to safeguard the autochthonous minority languages, most notably in the autonomous border regions. In this respect, the most far reaching special legislation actually requiring bilingual qualifications for public servants has been the so-called "pacchetto Alto Adige", adopted in 1971 for the autonomous province of Bolzano, where the majority of the population belongs, in fact, to the German-speaking minority.

More recently, a comprehensive law for the safeguarding of the so-called Historic Linguistic Minorities (Law 482/1999) has been adopted, aiming at the protection «of the languages and culture of the Albanians, Catalans, Germans, Greeks, Slovenians and Croatians, as well as of those speaking French, Friulan, Ladin, Occitan and Sardinian». The law established a National Fund for the Safeguard of Linguistic Minorities at the Prime Minister's Office, providing for the teaching of the above mentioned minority languages and cultural traditions, and for their use in official acts at the national, regional and local level. Furthermore, the law requires the public broadcasting service to safeguard historic minority languages via "Public Service Contracts", under the supervision of the Authority for Guarantees in Communication. According to Article 11 of such contracts - which has been renewed for three more years in January 2007 - RAI is committed to radio and TV broadcasting in German, Ladin, French and Slovenian, in the respective reference areas.

On the other hand, notwithstanding some attention to this issue been paid by the most foreseeing regional and local authorities, no legislation and no public action at the national level has been adopted, for the time being, to allow the fast growing communities of "new" minorities not to lose contact with their  native languages. An emerging problem, and a controversial one, which will have to be faced in the near future (see also 4.2.1 and 4.2.4).

Italy/ 5.2 Legislation on culture

Since Roman times there has been an enduring tendency in Italy to regulate by law virtually every aspect of social and economic life - so much so that, in the context of this short report, a comprehensive overview of Italian legislation in the cultural field is a daunting task at the national level, and an almost impossible one at the regional level. We shall therefore confine our analysis to the most important national laws on cultural matters.

The general laws adopted in the cultural field in years 1950-2000 have been the ones concerning:

As for other general laws, it should be mentioned that, in 2001, the centre-right government had obtained, through Law 137/2002, Article 10, an unusually extensive delegation of powers for far reaching revisions and reforms of the cultural field as a whole (heritage; cinema; theatre, music, dance; copyright) through legislative decrees to be adopted within 18 months. However, because of the enormous work involved in these reforms, time has been running out, and the deadline expired before such a difficult task could be accomplished: the only two important laws adopted have therefore been the complete revision and rationalisation of heritage legislation through the Heritage Codex, and the Law for Cinema (see 5.3).

Italy/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.1 Visual and applied arts

After the considerable attention towards contemporary arts brought about by the fascist minister Giuseppe Bottai (see 1), there has been a long gap in government consideration during the entire second half of the past century. The only legislative measure directly supporting contemporary creation in the visual arts at the national level was Law 717/1949, directly derived from the above mentioned 1942 Law. Although providing for the allocation of 2% of the costs of capital investments in public buildings to works by contemporary artists to be chosen by public competition (see 8.1), the law was rarely implemented, and the selection criteria have been much questioned.

An organic legislative measure for the promotion of contemporary visual art was adopted only in 2001, with Decree 449 on the reorganisation of the Ministry. An ad hoc DG for Contemporary Arts and Architecture (DARC) was finally created, therefore separating the related competencies from the DG for Heritage, where they had been previously confined to a marginal role. This change has actually been a much needed turning point for a country which had been "remarkably silent on visual arts policy", also because of "the long shadow cast by heritage", and where "the marketplace apart, the main public contribution to the contemporary visual arts comes from the local authorities" (Council of Europe, 1995). Although legislation on the support of contemporary arts has not been frequent even at the regional level, in recent years, investments by municipalities for the establishment of museums of contemporary art (in Rome, Naples, Palermo, Rivoli, Rovereto...) have been quite impressive.

The national centre for contemporary arts (MAXI, see 8.1), hopefully opening soon, is considered to be of strategic importance for launching a national policy fostering creativity in the visual arts. This long neglected issue is finally on the agenda, so much so that a Parliamentary survey on the key issues concerning the visual arts has been carried out in 2006-2007. A draft law on "measures to support contemporary arts", notably through a more favourable fiscal system and tax relieves for the artists, is now under the Parliament's scrutiny.

Italy/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.2 Performing arts and music

The first comprehensive law dealing with the performing arts as a whole - music, dance, theatre and cinema - was Law 163/1985, which, by creating the Unified Fund for the Performing Arts (Fondo Unico per lo Spettacolo), rationalised and substantially increased the amount of financial resources for the performing arts. In exchange for this increase, more transparency was required, both through a yearly detailed report on the allocation of the Fund to be submitted by the Ministry to the Parliament, and through the establishment of an Observatory for the Performing Arts within the Ministry.

However, Law 163 did not define general criteria for funding, which was left to a new sector-specific legislation to be adopted. As such laws never saw light, in spite of countless draft laws on music and theatre submitted to the Parliament during the following decades, existing legislation for cinema (Law 1213/1965, recently modified by Legislative Decree 28/2004) and music (Law 800/1967, and subsequent modifications) continued to be applied, whereas theatre and dance are still waiting for ad hoc legislation.

With the only exception of the thirteen (since 2004, fourteen) main Opera Houses ("Fondazioni liriche"), whose managing and funding criteria have been established by specific legislation (see 7.2), criteria for state financial support of music, theatre, dance, and circuses are still ruled by temporary ministerial regulations, establishing that funding of such activities should be allocated according to a mix of:

The Minister has final decision-making powers.

The quite conservative criteria for allocating state money to the performing arts organisations - in fact traditionally mainly based on historical precedents (the average of past contributions), rather than on artistic productivity and audience outreach standards - are presently under scrutiny, as it is felt that they act as a barrier to access for new, less established organisations, and thus as a hindrance to a renovation of the Italian scene. The review is all the more necessary because of the heavy financial constraints that the Italian musical and theatrical life has been presently experiencing (see 4.3).

It is worth noting that theatre, notwithstanding the lack of a specific sectoral law, is the only live performing arts discipline endowed with a national arm's length agency, ETI / Ente Teatrale Italiano, established under fascist rule by Law 365/1942, and subsequently modified by Law 836/1978. Its statute has undergone a number of modifications as well: the most recent one (Decree 14/10/2005 of the Ministry for Heritage) has significantly extended the scope of ETI's future action, from the original "national and international promotion of drama theatre" (see 4.2.4) to the promotion of dance and music as well. In the 2007 ministerial guidelines defining ETI's mission, joint artistic cooperation and networking with other similar European institutions - e.g. French ONDA and the Netherlands Theatre Institute - are highlighted. It should be added that, among its national activities, ETI's unique role in promoting the use of theatre to foster social cohesion (see 2.4.4) is also of relevance.

Finally, it should be kept in mind that the live performing arts are undergoing a period of institutional uncertainty due both to financial constraints, and to the persisting ambiguity in the interpretation of the "concurrent state / regional competence" established by Constitutional Law 3/2001 (see 5.1.2). The adoption of a comprehensive reform law, establishing division of jurisdiction as well as new funding criteria, ranks high among the government's priorities: however the draft law on live performing arts, which has been circulated by the Ministry in summer 2007, fell short of finding a general consensus. Meanwhile, the recent adoption of the Agreement for cultural and performing arts activities among the Ministry, the state, the provinces and the municipalities, notwithstanding the limited financial resources made available for co-financing common projects (20 million euro on a yearly basis, for 2007 mostly assigned to performing arts projects), is considered a first step towards better understanding and cooperation.

Italy/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.3 Cultural heritage

A new Heritage and Landscape Codex was adopted by the government through the Delegated Decree 42/2004, according to Law 137/2002 (see 5.2).

This monumental Code, made up of 184 Articles, attempts to be all embracing, by regulating in a detailed way all the functions pertaining to the heritage, archives and libraries - protection, enhancement, managing, national and international circulation of cultural goods, etc. - and to the landscape as well (M. Cammelli, 2004).

Whereas a large part of the huge pre existing legislation dealing with this matter - from the first extensive law regulating the protection of the heritage, Law 139/1939, up to the recent legislation in support of public-private partnership (see 4.2.9) - has been incorporated into this new Codex, some quite substantial changes have been introduced.

On the positive side, a new, more extended and up to date definition of cultural goods has been sanctioned, also inclusive of immaterial goods. On the other hand, the most controversial changes have been those dealing with the alienation of public cultural property and the possibility to entrust private bodies - both non profit and profit - with the management of public museums, monuments and sites. Following a fierce debate, these two measures have been considerably softened by the centre-right government itself with Leg. Decree 156/2006, which introduced stricter conditions for alienation, and excluded the possibility to hand over the management of public cultural property to the for-profit sector.

Some ambiguity subsists in the Codex's attitude towards the much controversial issue of state-regional partnership. Whereas Article 112 envisages a more rational cooperation framework for planning agreements among the state, the regions and local authorities (requiring, among other things, an accurate definition of common objectives and implementation time span), Article 4 is considered by most as failing to solve, once and for all, through national legislation the too often delayed issue of a clear reallocation of competencies among the different levels of government, by entrusting instead the matter to ad hoc agreements between the Ministry and the regions (Cammelli, 2004).

In November 2006, an ad hoc Commission has been established by the new centre-left government in order to recommend further amendments to the Codex; the deadline for the commission's work is May 2008.

Italy/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.4 Literature and libraries

Apart from regulations under the copyright laws, there is no national legislation envisaging substantial financial support for writers in Italy, with the only exception of a few book awards and limited support to journals of "high cultural interest".

In a country with exceptionally low reading rates (see 8.2.1), the recent creation, at the Ministry for Heritage, of a Centre for Books and Reading, endowed with a significant level of autonomy, has been generally welcomed. The establishment of a "lending rights" system on library lending, which still does not exist in Italy, is also being considered.

As for libraries, while regulatory functions on local public libraries were transferred to the regions in 1972, pre existing legislation on state libraries has been streamlined, along with legislation on the heritage sector, in the new Heritage Codex adopted in 2004 (see 5.3.3).

Italy/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.5 Architecture and environment

Modern architecture is a new entry in Italian cultural policies, directly connected with the creation of the new DG for Contemporary Arts and Architecture (2001).

No specific related laws have been adopted yet, although some draft laws have been submitted to the Parliament in recent years, also dealing with "architectural quality".

Italy/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.6 Film, video and photography

Law 163/1965 was the first comprehensive law adopted in the cultural field in post war Italy. Although this law provided for all phases of the value chain - including distribution, diffusion and promotion - to be more or less subsidised by the state, the lion's share of government funding has always been absorbed by production. State contributions are allocated - ex ante, in the form of loans and grants, and / or ex post, either in the form of prizes, or automatically, through percentage contributions on box office receipts.

While this law effectively supported the Italian film industry during the first decade of its implementation, the invasion of films on private TV networks, following the end of the state monopoly on television in 1976, has been the determinant for a major drop in film consumption, and thus, subsequently, in film production, which reached its qualitative and quantitative low around the mid 1990s. In order to foster quality production, Law 153/1994 introduced a special category for films classified "of national interest", which could attract public funding of up to 80% of the total production costs, whereas further legislation adopted at the end of the 1990s, and in particular Law 122/1996 (see 4.2.6), gave a significant boost to the production of Italian films. However, as many of these films were poor in terms of both critical reviews and audiences, a substantial agreement was reached between the government and professional circles to amend a legislation which had turned out to be too much in favour of a low risk assumption by the film producers.

This was one of the problems to be dealt with by Legislative Decree 28/2004, a comprehensive law aiming at streamlining and rationalising Law 163/1965 and all the following legislation on cinema activities, as well as at introducing substantial innovations, in particular the following:

Although acknowledged as a step forward towards sectoral rationalisation, the law (followed by nine implementing regulations) has also been criticised, as it was felt that the introduction of such a rigid reference system could act as a barrier to access for interesting but less well-known and established film producers. The non-pluralistic character of the board of Cinecittà Holding (the members are all government appointees) is also of concern.

It should be noted that the law's immediate side effect was the paralysis of financial allocations to cinema activities until the end of 2005, as a result of the endemic conflict between the state and the regions, and of the institutional impasse produced by Constitutional Law 3-2001 (see 5.1.2). In fact, the Toscany and Emilia Romagna regions appealed to the Constitutional Court against Legislative Decree 28-2004 and its implementing regulations, on the basis that it did not take into account the new concurrent competencies in the promotion and financing of cultural activities, which have been entrusted by the revised Constitution both to the state and the Regions. In its Decision of 19/7/2005, the Constitutional Court endorsed the Regions' claim, thus invalidating all the allocations of funds to the film industry, which had been decided upon autonomously by the Ministry in the previous part of the year. A new Leg. Decree 164/2005 was adopted, amending Leg. Decree 28-2004 by providing for joint approval - both by the Ministry and by the State-Regions Conference - of every decision concerning the regulating, planning and funding of the production and the distribution of films. Because of this delay in the allocation of funds, in 2005 only 98 films were produced, against 138 in 2004.

A review of the legislation introduced by the past centre-right government is now again on the agenda. Three draft laws are presently waiting to be discussed by the Parliament, all of them more or less based on the following key points:

In order to speed up the coming into force of the last two points dealing with financial measures, they have been incorporated in the draft Budget Law for 2008, to be adopted by the Parliament by the end of the year.

Italy/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.7 Culture industries

There is no overall legal framework to promote the cultural industries in Italy. Legislative responsibilities are split between the Ministry for Communication (radio, TV, the audiovisual sector and the press) and the Ministry for the Heritage and Cultural Activities (cinema and recorded music). On the other hand, the Prime Minister's Office is mainly responsible for state financial support to the press, whereas it shares responsibility with the Ministry for Communication for financial contributions to national and local television.

There is no legislation for the music recording industry in Italy. Information on new legislation for cinema is described in 5.3.6.

Italy/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.8 Mass media

This section will deal simultaneously with radio / television and the press: since the 1990s, these fields were in fact regulated under a unified system made up of "umbrella laws".

When a Constitutional Court Decision, taken in 1976, abolished the Italian state monopoly on local radio and TV broadcasting, a protracted legislative gap - allowing the proliferation of private local stations which subsequently became national networks - resulted in the creation of a duopoly by RAI (the public company) and Mediaset (the private company owned by the media tycoon and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi: see also 4.2.5).

Only in 1990 was a law (Law 223) finally adopted to regulate (by legally endorsing it) the public / private radio-television system. Besides dealing with the planning of radio frequencies, the distribution of licences between RAI, private networks and local broadcasters, the allotment of advertising, etc., the law extended its scope to the communication system as a whole (including the press). It introduced antitrust measures for preventing the abuse of dominant positions so that publishers in control of more than 8% or 16% of circulating newspapers were not allowed to own, respectively, more than one or two TV licences, etc.

A subsequent Law (249/1997) provided for the creation of a Supervisory Authority for the Guarantees in Communications: a public autonomous agency linked to the Ministry for Communications with supervising powers on the whole information and communication system (the press, TV, radio and telecommunications). The law also outlined additional antitrust measures stating, in particular, that no entity operating in the radio-television and in the publishing industries should control more than 20% of the total financial resources flowing to the field, i.e. advertising, sponsors, licence fees, etc. However, this frequently disregarded legislation did not turn out to be very effective in preventing the high level of concentration in the Italian media system. After long delays, in July 2005 the Authority felt obliged to inflict a heavy fine both on RAI and Mediaset for over-reaching the 20% threshold in the previous years (needless to say both companies appealed the decision).

As for the press, it should be noted first that the Italian press industry is probably the most heavily subsidised in Europe (see 4.2.6). It is affected by falling reading rates, and, consequently, by falling income from the sale of newspapers and periodicals (-21% between 1990 and 2000) on one side, and growing competition with TV networks in attracting advertising income on the other side. In fact, the industry would not be able to survive without direct and indirect public financing to publishing houses provided for through the years by several laws, starting with Law 416/1981, establishing tax incentives for capital investments, loans, grants, and, mainly, postal tariff facilities, the latter substantially increased by Law 488/1999. However, the high level of these subsidies in years of financial stringency for the state budget has been recently questioned. A draft law on publishing has been adopted by the Council of Ministers in October 2007, providing for a deep reorganisation of the state's regulatory functions of the publishing sector (books and the press), and for a significant cut in direct and indirect state subsidies: among the latter, in particular, postal tariff facilities will be replaced by tax credits. Some of these cuts have been, once again, anticipated by the draft Budget Law for 2008, and, if adopted by the Parliament, will come into force starting from January.

It should be underlined, however, that the importance of Law 416/1981 goes beyond  the introduction of subsidies: it was actually the first law to establish antitrust measures in the press system, subsequently modified and extended to the whole Radio TV and publishing system by the previously mentioned Laws 223/1990 and 249/1997. However, these antitrust measures have now been significantly loosened by Law 112/2004, the so called "Gasparri Law" (named after the Minister for Communication) regulating the media sector in the centre right government. In fact, besides allowing the partial privatisation of RAI, this extremely controversial law endorses the present duopoly in the television system (see 4.2.5), while significantly modifying - in its favour - the rules of the game. The most controversial part of the law provides for a much larger (and, in fact, not measurable because of the lack of data) financial resources cap, including the whole media field, to be considered for antitrust measures, thus allowing a further, uncontrolled expansion both for RAI and for Mediaset, and reducing even more space for other media operators, like SKY Italia and Telecom. Furthermore, from 2009 all hindrances to joint ownership of newspapers and TV networks will be removed.

Amending the Gasparri Law, by loosening the existing duopoly and by establishing the conditions of a more pluralistic media system, and for an improved public radio TV service is presently one of the utmost priorities of the centre left government.

Among the several draft laws dealing with the radio-television system and with RAI's reform put forward by Minister Gentiloni, the most noteworthy as pursuing these goals is the one providing for the transition to the Terrestrial Digital System, adopted by the Cabinet at the end of 2006. This draft law is also by far the most controversial, as it requires both RAI and Mediaset to give up one of their three networks, by transferring it to TDT in order to make analogue frequencies available for new incoming actors. A further step back is required with regard to the percentage cap of each subject on advertising resources, which should be lowered from 63% to 45%: a rather indulgent cap, which is however strongly opposed by Mediaset.

The delay in the adoption of this much needed law has not failed to stir some reservation in the public opinion, not to speak of the risk of incurring a heavy fine by the European Commission (see 4.2.5).

Italy/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.9 Legislation for self-employed artists

There are no special laws or legal frameworks for self employed artists in Italy.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Italy/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.10 Other areas of relevant legislation

Information is currently not available.

Italy/ 6. Financing of culture

6.1 Short overview

As in most industrialised countries, the economics of culture in Italy follows a mixed economy model (see 3.1), in which both the public and the private sectors share responsibility for the financing of cultural goods and activities. However, the public / private mix of financial resources significantly changed over the years.

Public expenditure - allocated by four levels of government: the state, the regions, the provinces, the municipalities - has traditionally been the primary source of support for heritage, archives and libraries, and a particularly important one for the live performing arts (music, theatre, etc.). On the other hand the cultural industries - book publishing, the press, cinema and the audiovisuals - are mainly supported by private expenditure that is by the marketplace: household expenditure for cultural goods and services, and advertising.

However, the boundaries between what the public and private sectors fund have become more porous. For example, cinema, and notably the press, are presently heavily subsidised by the public sector, due to problems of market failure. Since the 1980s, a once minor, now growing source of private financing - sponsorship and donations - is becoming more and more relevant for heritage items and museums.

Data on public and private expenditure for culture in Italy is not yet collected on a regular basis. The last available comprehensive data on public cultural expenditure was elaborated by AEC / Associazione per l'Economia della Cultura (Rapporto sull'economia della cultura in Italia 1990-2000, Rome 2004) for the year 2000. In fact, unlike in other European countries, where the ministries for culture or the statistical institutes collect data on public cultural expenditure at all levels of government on a yearly basis, in Italy such data is only extemporaneously collected by other entities.

As for the amount of private expenditure, which is here partly the result of estimates, it should be noted that data on the turnover of the art market, on expenditure for the maintenance of heritage by private owners (e.g. the Church, banks, etc.) and on direct investments by corporations for the restoration and operation of their own cultural infrastructures (Palazzo Grassi in Venice, and the like) is totally lacking.

An overall estimate of cultural expenditure in Italy in 2000 is shown in Table 5. In that year, total public and private expenditure for culture amounted to around 24 billion euro, with private expenditure playing, by far, the dominant role (around ¾), and with a dynamic trend of +32% (in real terms) in the 1990s.

Quite unexpectedly, however, and unlike in the previous decade, public expenditure increased at a faster rate than private expenditure (+40% against +30% between 1990 and 2000), in spite of the heavy constraints affecting public budgets for complying with EU parameters, on the one hand, and the government's strenuous efforts to encourage private support for culture and the arts, on the other. Such a surprising trend was probably the result of a strong boost in public cultural policies and the related expenditure in the second half of the decade, coupled with stagnation of household expenditure.

Table 5:     Public and private cultural expenditure by source in 2000, in million euro and % variations 1990-2000




% Variation



3 242.3








2 245.0



of which









2 039.5




6 471.7




Household expenditure**

9 712.5




7 492.8



Sponsorship and donations





17 749.1




24 220.8



Source:      Rapporto sull'Economia della cultura in Italia 1990-2000. The elaboration of data on state and regional expenditure is based on the accounting budgets, whereas provincial and municipal data are ISTAT elaborations. Data on household expenditure are also drawn by ISTAT; only the purchase of cultural goods and services - actually representing a financial support of culture - is considered here, and not the purchase of hardware (TV appliances, etc.). UPA is the source for data on advertising, whereas sponsorship and donations are estimated by Fitzcarraldo Foundation.
*                 State expenditure does not include artistic education.

While comprehensive data on public cultural expenditure is stuck in the year 2000, data on expenditure for culture by the Ministry for Heritage, the provinces and municipalities, until 2004, has been subsequently elaborated by AEC on the Ministry's behalf (Table 6). However, the unavailability of data regarding both the regions and other ministries financial support of culture and the cultural industries did not allow us to achieve the original goal of updating the 2000 data on overall public cultural expenditure (AEC, La spesa pubblica per la cultura in Italia negli anni 2000, Rome 2006).

Table 6:     Expenditure for culture by the Ministry for Heritage, the provinces and the municipalities, in million euro, 2000-2004; % variations in curr. and const. euro















2 341




2 040


4 587



2 194




2 490


4 955


Var. % 2000-2000









Var. % 2000-2004
in constant euro**









Source:      AEC elaboration on data by the Ministry for the Heritage and Cultural Activities and by ISTAT.
*                 State spending only refers to cultural expenditure by the Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities (exclusive of sport), which in 2000 accounted for 66% of total State cultural expenditure.
**              The deflator is drawn by the following source: Datastream database.

The most evident feature of the 2000-2004 trend in public cultural expenditure - after two decades of dynamic growth - has been stagnation: the Table actually shows an overall increase of +8% in current Lire, equivalent to a decrease of -6.4% in real terms. The other main feature has been the quite diversified trend followed by the different levels of government (although it should be noted that the notion of "culture" is more broadly defined at the local level). Whereas, in real terms, cultural expenditure by the Ministry had a downward trend of -18.8%, it slightly increased for the municipalities (+5.7%), and was quite dynamic for the provinces (+13.8%), whose expenditure for culture remains, however, very low.

Italy/ 6. Financing of culture

6.2 Public cultural expenditure per capita

Coming back to the year 2000 - the last one for which data is available for all four levels of government - public cultural expenditure per capita in Italy was 118 euro. The ratio on total public expenditure for the same year was 1.3% (compared to 0.62% in 1990). The ratio on GDP rose from 0.25% in 1990 to 0.57% in 2000, showing an increase in public expenditure for culture significantly higher if compared with the overall trend of economic growth.

Italy/ 6. Financing of culture

6.3 Public cultural expenditure broken down by level of government

Table 7:     Public cultural expenditure, by level of government, in million euros, 2000

Level of government

Total expenditure

% share of total


3 525






2 245


Of which:







2 039.5



6 754.2


Source:      Rapporto sull'Economia della Cultura in Italia 1990-2000.
*                 Including artistic education.

Public cultural expenditure in Italy has always been highly centralised, with the state share constantly above 50%. However, this situation has been gradually changing: the higher growth rate in local expenditure shown between 1990 and 2000 (Table 5) has actually continued after 2000 for the provinces and municipalities (Table 6), and even more so for the regions (as shown by sample data). It is therefore reasonable to assume that the state percentage on public expenditure for culture is currently much lower than in 2000, although such an assumption is premature due to the lack of data on the overall dynamic of state cultural expenditure. It should be kept in mind, for instance, that the financial contribution to the media, by non cultural ministries, is not included in the above mentioned 2006 survey, and that recent data by the Authority concerned (see 4.2.6) shows that the press (+15% in current euro between 2000 and 2006) and television did quite well in enjoying state subsidies even in the 2000s, and were therefore much less affected by government's policies of financial austerity than the heritage and performing arts.

Italy/ 6. Financing of culture

6.4 Sector breakdown

In Italy, a yearly breakdown of cultural expenditure by domain - according to the suggested EUROSTAT classification, also adopted by the Compendium - can be easily carried out only in the case of the Ministry for Heritage. It has not been possible to gather this data at the state level (all ministries financially supporting culture included) since 2000, when the above mentioned survey ( chapter 6.1) was carried out by AEC on all the budgetary accounts of the involved ministries (see Table 8).

On the other hand, regional data collected in the parallel AEC survey on the regional budgetary accounts was not detailed enough to allow the same classification by domain and sub-domain. Even less satisfying is the breakdown of data concerning municipal and provincial expenditure for culture, yearly classified by ISTAT only under two broad domains: cultural goods and interdisciplinary.

Table 8:     State cultural expenditure, by sector, in million euros, 2000

Field / Domain / Sub-domain


Transfers to institutions

Transfers to other levels of government



Cultural Goods

1 450.6



1 847.8



1 081.3



1 469.1




















Visual Arts and Architecture






Performing Arts




































Books and Press


















Audiovisuals / Multimedia






























Cultural Institutions






Administration / Other






Foreign relations













1 891.0

1 074.4


3 525.1


Source:      Rapporto sull'Economia della cultura in Italia 1990-2000.

Expenditure for the heritage represented the lion's share of state cultural expenditure (42%) in 2000, followed by the press (14%) and by the live performing arts (13%). Direct expenditure was predominant in the heritage domain, while transfers took the lead in the performing arts and in the media industry

(It is also worth noting that, in the latter case, transfers are allocated to publishing and film and TV companies rather than to institutions, and that, in order to take also this typology of transfers into account, the title of the column in the above Table should be changed into "other transfers").

Italy/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.1 Re-allocation of public responsibilities

Since the mid-1990s, the key trend in the reallocation of public responsibilities has been "desétatisation" - that is, the transformation of some of the main public cultural institutions into private organisations, generally with foundation status. The first such institutions to undergo this process have been:

The logic behind these measures was twofold: a) to pursue a more efficient management of such institutions, traditionally paralysed by red tape; b) to ease the burden they represent for the public purse by facilitating fundraising from the private sector. The latter aim has, however, only been partially achieved, as most of their often considerable running costs are still covered by the state budget.

And yet, compared with the relative degree of autonomy that the above mentioned institutions - mainly concerned with the performing arts - have always enjoyed, the situation was far more critical in the heritage sector, where museums and archaeological sites were so heavily dependent on the Ministry that they did not even have a separate budget, making it impossible to single out their costs.

The first experimental step, undertaken in 1998, was to grant an autonomous status and budget to Pompei, a major archaeological site. This relatively successful experiment was extended in 2002 to the four national museum poles ("poli museali nazionali"), composed of several national art galleries and museums systems in Rome, Venice, Florence and Naples. A further step was taken in 2005 by transforming the National Egyptian Museum in Turin into a public-private foundation, and by opening it to the participation of the Piemonte Region and  the Turin Province and Municipality, on one hand, and of the foundations Banco S. Paolo and Cassa di risparmio di Torino, on the other. If the outcomes of these initial steps will be positive, other national museums - not excluding the recently created "poli museali nazionali" - could be turned into foundations.

A more controversial step has been the handing over of the management of publicly owned museums and other heritage sites to profit and non-profit private partners, experimented by some local administrations. In fact, while institutional conflicts (see 4.2.9) have so far legally hindered concessions of this kind to private organisations at state level, municipalities have already been trying new patterns of partnership between the public and private sector. The Musei Capitolini of Rome and the Venice local museums system provide two interesting case studies.

Critics of these privatisation measures argue that museums cannot be profitable unless they are heavily commercialised, to the detriment of their cultural, scientific and social role.

Italy/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.2 Status/role and development of major cultural institutions

The most far reaching - although incomplete - reform undergone by major cultural institutions has been the transformation of the thirteen (now fourteen, after Teatro Petruzzelli of Bari was co-opted in this privileged category), public, albeit autonomous, opera houses into private foundations.

State funding of such institutions, including La Scala in Milan, The Rome Opera, La Fenice in Venice, etc., amounts to as much as half of the total state expenditure for the performing arts and the film industry. Furthermore, the limited social outreach of opera houses - only a privileged and affluent audience can afford the ticket prices - has made it more and more controversial to cover their extremely high costs primarily with tax money.

In 1996, Leg. Decree 367/1996 was aimed at reforming the thirteen opera houses by transforming them into more flexible private foundations, as well as by attracting private capital of up to 40% of their endowment through fiscal incentives. However, only La Scala was able to attract substantial private support, and as a result, a new Law (Leg. Decree 134/1998) was issued to speed up the reform process. The new provision established an immediate, compulsory transformation of the remaining twelve opera houses into "lyric foundations". There was one condition: in case they had not been able to attract private funding up to at least 12% of the annual state grant by 1999, the state's contribution for the following year would have been frozen. In spite of such deterrent measures, only three of the newly created foundations were able to respect the set deadline. Other foundations followed, but their situation remains extremely difficult, in particular for the lyric foundations located south of Rome (as shown by the crisis presently facing the glorious Teatro S. Carlo in Naples). In fact, the development of public-private partnerships in the management of opera houses has turned out to be far more problematic than expected, especially in the less prosperous "Mezzogiorno" (Southern Italy).

The dramatic cuts to state allocations for the opera foundations in recent years (from 259 to 177 million euros between 2001 and 2006) - notwithstanding the increases in funding recently decided in the 2008 Budget Law - call for urgent actions to reform the whole system of opera theatres in Italy, so as to increase its productivity and social outreach, and avoid the collapse of this paramount component of Italian musical life.

Italy/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.3 Emerging partnerships or collaborations

Among the emerging partners of public authorities in support of the cultural sector, banking foundations play a key (and increasingly established) role.

In Italy there has always been a tradition of supporting the arts and culture by the local savings banks, which have been privatised through subsequent laws since the 1990s. The first step towards reform (Law 218/1990) was to separate the non-profit mission of grant-giving from core banking activities. A subsequent step (Law 451/1998) was to create independent private foundations devoted exclusively to public sector goals and endowed with the sale of banking assets. The law also established that such foundations should gradually sell the bank's controlling shares, in order to diversify their asset base and to better focus on their non-profit mission.

Although this process is still under way, these newly endowed foundations have substantially increased their grant-making functions in the fields of scientific research, arts and heritage, health and welfare (as stated by Law 451) in the last decade. According to ACRI, the National Association of Local Savings Banks and Banking Foundations, their total grant-giving capabilities reached 1 374 million euro in 2005 (up from 1 275 in 2004), 30.6% of which was channelled to the sector "Art, heritage and cultural activities" (420.4 million euro, against 183 in 2000, 90% of which was absorbed by the Centre-North: see Eleventh Report on Banking Foundations, 2007). Although the prevailing approach has so far been one of grant-giving, these foundations are showing a growing interest in developing their own long-term strategies and programmes, as well as in enhancing their role as catalysts in the cultural sector (see Leg. Decree 368/98, 4.2.9).

Another emerging model is represented by the so-called partnership foundations ("fondazioni di partecipazione"), which draw their inspiration from British trusts and museum foundations in the Netherlands. The endowment of such institutions may be progressively formed through the participation of different partners - whether they be individuals or institutions, public or private entities - whose contribution may be both in cash and in kind. This new typology has recently been adopted in several local museums, theatres, orchestras and other cultural institutions.

For the foundation system as a whole to become a more and more relevant cultural policy partner in Italy, a key issue to address is once again the strong territorial divide between the North-Centre and the South of Italy.

In fact, according to the Seventh Report on Italian Foundations 2007, jointly issued by the "Arts Newspaper" and the Fondazione Agnelli's Documentation Centre on Foundations, a survey carried out on a sample of 75 banking foundations and 145 civil foundations showed that 2/3 of these foundations operated in the North, and only 11% in the South and the islands.

Among the possible solutions identified to fill this huge gap is the creation of a Foundation for the South (a proposal strongly endorsed by banking foundations in agreement with voluntary organisations).

Italy/ 8. Support to creativity and participation

8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

At present, Italian visual artists do not enjoy any special direct support scheme, and make their living either in the marketplace, or through second jobs (mainly teaching at schools or arts academies).

The only legal provision in their favour (see 5.2) is the "2% for the arts" Law, establishing that 2% of the investment costs of any public building (with the exception of schools) should be allocated to the commissioning of a work of art by a living artist. Due to the questionable criteria adopted in the choice of eligible artists, the law largely remained ineffective. In recent times, however, it seems that it has been more frequently implemented, notably in the case of subways, jails and army barracks: however, exhaustive information is not available.

As for "droit de suite", Leg. Decree 118 was adopted in 2006, on implementing European Directive 84/2001; the relevant regulation is currently being drafted (see 5.1.7).

On the other hand, the Italian tax legislation is not supportive of visual artists, nor do our artists enjoy, as it happens in other countries, the possibility of low rental rates for working spaces, travel grants, etc.

Support for the promotion of contemporary creation is indirectly provided for through the three main national exhibiting institutions for contemporary visual arts: the Biennale di Venezia, the Triennale di Milano and the Quadriennale di Roma, all of which recently underwent, by law, substantial reorganisation measures.

There are signs, however, that one of the main objectives of the newly created DG for Contemporary Arts and Architecture - DARC - , as well as of the Museum of the Arts of the XXI century (MAXXI), to be created in Rome on the grounds of an old army barracks, will be an increased support to artists and to the promotion of contemporary arts.

A new institutional actor committed to supporting young artists is the recently created Ministry for Youth Policies and Sport Activities (2006). One of the goals identified in its National Plan for Youth is the promotion of young people's creativity, and in particular of artistic creativity. In this respect, a Ministry's joint initiative with DARC is worth mentioning: the organisation in Rome, in summer 2007, of "Creative yards. Young ideas change Italy", a two-day conference in which institutions, local authorities and associations discussed how to support youth creativity. An important role at the conference was also played by GAI / Giovani Artisti Italiani, an association of 46 local authorities committed to supporting youth creativity through training, promotion and research activities, as well as to connecting young artists and their work to the art market (

As for architectural creation, in recent years, municipalities have been particularly active in hiring famous Italian, as well as foreign architects, to create or refurbish buildings to house museums for contemporary art (Rome, Turin, Prato, Rovereto, Naples, etc.).

On the other hand, performing artists have always been much better off financially than visual artists. Besides enjoying their special social security system (see 5.1.4), they also benefit from the substantial subsidies of the Performing Arts Fund. Interpreters, though, are doing better than authors, while the Fund's share allocated to musical and theatrical contemporary creation has constantly been decreasing since its creation, in 1985. Because of the difficult financial crisis affecting the performing arts, these artists are presently facing a more and more difficult situation, as well.

Italy/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.1 Special artists funds

Information is currently not available.

Italy/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.2 Grants, awards, scholarships

There are no specific funds, grants, scholarships for artists of relevance in Italy at the state level. Support of this kind may be provided in some cases by Regions and municipalities, but information is currently not available.

Italy/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.3 Support to professional artists associations or unions

Although there are several artists associations and unions in Italy, they do not receive any government support.

Italy/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.1 Trends and figures

In Italy there are two different sets of data regarding cultural demand:

Both types of data are important, and needed. Attendance data - where increases can be determined by higher frequency by the same persons - are indicators of artistic and economic success: they cannot be considered, though, as social indicators of achievements in outreach to wider audiences. The latter can be measured only through participation sample surveys, well correlated to socio demographic features as well (age, gender, profession, etc).

Audience figures for the performing arts have been collected yearly by SIAE on a, more or less, regular and exhaustive basis since 1936. However, because of a change in the adopted methodology, the present data (referred to in Tab. 9) is not perfectly comparable with the data collected before 2004. Audiences for the live performing arts achieved a positive growth between 2005 and 2006: theatre did better (+9%), whereas the increase for opera, dance and classical concerts was around +5-6%. On the other hand, the audience trend for cinema has been rather stagnant.

Table 9:     Audience figures for the performing arts, broken down by discipline (thousands), 2005 and 2006




   % Var. 2005-2006


13 248

14 454


Opera, dance

3 698

3 924


Classical music concerts

2 869

3 026



104 684

104 980


Source:      Siae, Annuario dello spettacolo 2005 and 2006.

Participation trends in cultural activities (the ratio of adult population actually involved in different types of activities) have been monitored by ISTAT on a yearly basis since 1993. Such trends differ substantially, depending on whether "going out" cultural activities are exclusively considered, or "at home" activities are included.

Table 10 shows a generalised increase, in the years 1993-2006, in all of the "going out" activities, again more evident for theatre, and for classical music concerts, where, nonetheless, participation ratios in year 2006 remain low (20% and 9.4% respectively). Participation is comparatively higher for museums (27.7%) and the cinema (48.9%), but, in the latter case, there has been a slight decrease in comparison with the previous year.

Table 10:   Participation in cultural activities and entertainment, in %, 1993-2006




Museums - exhibitions

Classical music concerts
(incl. Opera)






























































































Var. '93-2006







Source:      ISTAT, Indagine multiscopo: Aspetti della vita quotidiana - Anni 1993-2006.
Note:         Data refer to those aged over 6-years having attended the above-cited activities at least once during the previous year.

Participation in the media is much higher than for museums and the performing arts, however, but for books, the figure is less dynamic: in particular, TV watchers (94% of the population in 2006) have constantly, if slightly, decreased since 1993. Although the situation of book reading has slightly improved during the past few years, the participation ratio for newspapers and books (58% and 44% respectively in 2006), if compared with the much higher ratios of most European countries, confirm that Italy is not a country of committed readers.

Table 11:   Individuals watching television, listening to radio, reading newspapers and books, in %, 1993-2006




(b) (c)

(b) (d)


































































% Var 1993-2006





Source:      Istat, Indagine multiscopo: Aspetti della vita quotidiana - Anni 1993-2006.
Note:         Data refer to: (a) over 3-year olds, (b) over 11-year olds; (c) individuals reading a newspaper at least once a week; (d) individuals reading at least one book a year.

Italy/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.2 Policies and programmes

Since the mid-1990s, several initiatives have been undertaken to foster participation, although mainly on the supply side: reopening of closed museums, prolonging opening hours of museums and other heritage sites, and improving equipment along with general modernisation of museum services. Regarding music and the performing arts, new architecturally imposing modern infrastructures, like the auditorium in Rome, are actually acting as multipurpose cultural centres, aimed at attracting and blending different types of audiences. Furthermore, special events like the Notti bianche (see 2.2) are also part of a new strategy aimed at involving citizenship and tourists alike.

On the demand side, measures mainly targeted at attracting new and younger audiences, like the introduction of innovative, more flexible types of theatre subscriptions, of lower prices for cinema attendance in the afternoon, the organisation of promotional free weeks, heritage days etc., have also contributed to an increase in participation rates with regard to performance events, museums and exhibitions. On the other hand, neither specifically finalised audience development actions, nor audience studies or detailed research on the determinants of the demands of non attendees, are regularly carried out. In comparison with other countries, the introduction of marketing techniques to increase public access is also lagging behind. There is still much space for more strategic actions to increase participation and for audience development.

Italy/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.1 Arts education

Arts education is not systematically endorsed in Italy's primary and secondary school system. Musical education in particular, which is regularly taught only at the secondary level, is unanimously considered to be quite inadequate in comparison with neighbouring countries (Austria, Germany, France) and in spite of Italy's well known tradition in this field.

On the other hand, due to the outstanding wealth of artistic heritage, art history has traditionally been included in the curriculum of high schools specialising in classical studies ("liceo classico") and in arts subjects ("liceo artistico"), the latter being specifically devoted to visual arts training.

Outside the school curriculum, in 1998 the Ministry for Education and the Ministry for the Heritage and Cultural Activities have signed a protocol to jointly promote a better knowledge and appreciation of the heritage through a close collaboration "on the field" between individual school institutes and the local "soprintendenze". Agreements pertaining to the promotion of education in the performing arts (particularly theatre and cinema), have also been in place for quite a long time between the Ministry for Education and AGIS (Italian General Association for the Performing Arts), the latter representing professional associations of producers and distributors in the performing arts field.

Italy/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.2 Intercultural education

Intercultural education made its official appearance in the Italian formal education system in 1994, with the then ground-breaking Ministerial Memorandum 73/1994 ("Intercultural dialogue and democratic coexistence: the planning engagement of the school"). The key principles outlined in the document were the following: intercultural education should be considered as the pedagogical answer to cultural pluralism, and as such should not be seen as a mere compensatory activity, but rather as the "integrating background" against which any education is possible in the contemporary world; it must concern all students; it has to do more with the development of relational skills and dialogic identities than with the teaching of specific topics; it implies a less Euro-centric approach to school subjects, as well as the safeguard of minority languages and cultures.

The implementation of these principles in the school curricula, however, has been inconsistent due to a number of factors, such as the uneven territorial distribution of migrant communities across Italy (and therefore the "multicultural development" of schools taking place at different speeds) and the need for teachers and educators to deal with emergency issues such as welcoming the growing wave of foreign students and meeting intensive Italian language teaching requirements. Although individual schools have been entrusted with the definition of their own training provision (Law 59/97, Article 21, "Autonomy of School Institutions"), relatively few of them have, in fact, met the challenge of revising the curriculum drawing inspiration from the Memorandum's guidelines.

Furthermore, between 1994 and 2006 there has been a legislative gap regarding intercultural education, with only a few significant exceptions such as Law 40/1998 (which requires schools to develop a number of intercultural projects aimed at "acknowledging linguistic and cultural differences as the basis for mutual respect, intercultural exchange and tolerance"). Against a background of staggering growth of the foreign school population in the past five years (see 4.2.1), the Ministry of Education created a Unit for the Integration of Foreign Students in 2004; however, the Ministry has not only cut down on crucial professional resources such as "learning facilitators", "tutors" and "cultural / linguistic mediators" due to financial constraints, but it has also overlooked, in its recent reform of the school system, any explicit reference to the role of formal education in a multicultural society. The publication, in 2006, of "Guidelines for the first reception and integration of foreign students" (Ministerial Memorandum 24/2006), and of a "Policy framework document for the integration of foreign students and intercultural education", as well as the establishment of an Observatory, are some initial, long-awaited steps to fill this gap and make up for lost time.

In the meantime, the pedagogic approach advocated by the 1994 Memorandum has been brought forward by individual schools through intercultural education programmes, often undertaken in partnership with other agencies and organisations and local authorities. These programmes widely differ with regard to their goals and objectives, methodologies and tools, and expected outcomes, ranging from formal school activities to informal actions aimed at developing inter-ethnic relations, based on principles of equality and cultural pluralism. As the presence of foreign students in Italian schools has evolved into a structural phenomenon, a growing body of evidence has been gathered to document and monitor local programmes and activities, as is the case with the comprehensive surveys carried out by Verona's local education office (Centro Tante tinte, 1998) and the City of Turin (Belluati, 2002), and, most notably, the database of intercultural education programmes in schools, set up by Fondazione ISMU in 2003 (see, Unit "Scuola formazione", "banca dati educazione interculturale").

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section

Italy/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.1 Amateur arts

Information on amateur arts associations is currently not available.

Italy/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

There has been an increase in the number of voluntary cultural associations in the last decade. This increase could be due to Law 266/1991 on volunteering, which provides such associations with fiscal benefits and financial support. According to an ISTAT Report on voluntary associations (1999), volunteers operating in the cultural field at the local level were as many as 77 000, i.e. 13% of the total number for this type of association at the national level. Archaeology, local history, folklore and popular culture are the fields most benefiting from the work of voluntary cultural associations.

Italy/ 9. Sources and Links

9.1 Key documents on cultural policy

AGIS: Lo spettacolo-Raccolta delle norme legislative emanate dallo Stato e dalle Regioni. Roma, 2001.

Associazione Casse di Risparmio Italiane: Rapporto sulle fondazioni bancarie. (Yearly report on bank foundations' giving).

Associazione Civita: Fondazioni bancarie e cultura: un impegno di valore. Milano: SperlingKupfer, 2006.

Associazione per l'Economia della Cultura: La spesa pubblica per la cultura in Italia negli anni 2000. Roma: mimeo, 2006.

Atti Parlamentari: Relazione sull' utilizzazione del Fondo Unico per lo Spettacolo (yearly report by the Ministry for the Heritage and Cultural Activities to the Parliament on the use of the State Fund for the Performing Arts).

C. Bodo, C. Spada (eds.): Rapporto sull' Economia della Cultura in Italia 1990-2000. Bologna: ed il Mulino, 2004.

C. Bodo (ed): Rapporto sull' Economia della Cultura in Italia 1980-1990. Presidenza del Consiglio, Dipartimento Informazione ed Editoria, 1994.

C. Bodo, C. Gordon, D. Ilczuck (eds): Gambling on culture- State lotteries as a source of funding for Culture, the Arts and Heritage. Amsterdam: CIRCLE Publication 11, 2004.

S. Bodo, S. Cantù, S. Mascheroni (eds.): Progettare insieme per un patrimonio interculturale. Quaderni ISMU 1/2007. Milano: Fondazione ISMU, 2007.

S. Bodo et al., A Brera anch'io. Il museo come terreno di dialogo interculturale, Soprintendenza per il Patrimonio Storico Artistico ed Etnoantropologico di Milano e della Lombardia Occidentale, Pinacoteca di Brera. Milano: Electa, 2007.

E. Cabasino: I mestieri del patrimonio- Professioni e mercato del lavoro nei beni culturali in Italia. Milano: Franco Angeli, 2005.

M. Cammelli, C. Barbati, G. Sciullo (eds.): Il codice dei beni culturali e del paesaggio. Bologna: ed. il Mulino, 2004.

M. Cammelli, B. Barbati, G. Sciullo (eds.): Il diritto dei beni culturali. Bologna: ed. il Mulino, 2003.

A. Compagna: Strumenti dei valutazione per i musei italiani. Cangemi, 2006.

Council of Europe: Cultural policy in Italy. Report by a European panel of examiners prepared by Christopher Gordon. Strasbourg, 1995.

C. Da Milano, M. De Luca (eds.): Attraverso i confini: il patrimonio culturale come strumento di integrazione sociale. Roma: ECCOM / Compagnia di San Paolo, 2005.

T. De Mauro (ed.): Italiano 2000. Roma: ed Bulzoni, 2003.

ECCOM / Compagnia di San Paolo: Patrimonio e attività culturali nei processi di rigenerazione urbana. Roma, 2006.

ETI et al.: Teatro e disagio - Primo censimento nazionale di gruppi e compagnie che svolgono attività con soggetti svantaggiati / disagiati. 2003.

EUROSTAT: Cultural statistics in the EU. LEG culture report, 2000.

M. Gallina: Il teatro possibile - Linee organizzative e tendenze del teatro italiano. Milano: Franco Angeli, 2005.

C. Gordon: Report of a thematic study using transnational comparisons to analyse cultural polices and programmes that contribute to preventing and reducing poverty and social exclusion. Newcastle upon Tyne: University of Northumbria, 2004 (see section on Italy).

D. Ilczuk, Y. R. Isar (eds.): Metropolises of Europe: diversity in urban cultural life. Warsaw: Pro Cultura Foundation, CIRCLE Publication 14, 2006 (see section about Rome).

ISTAT: Annuario delle statistiche culturali. (Yearly handbook on cultural statistics), Roma.

ISTAT: Cultura, socialità, tempo libero. Indagine multiscopo sulle famiglie.(Yearly sample survey on participation in cultural and leisure activities), Roma.

Istituto per l'Economia dei Media: Rapporto sull' industria della comunicazione in Italia. Fondazione Rosselli. (Yearly Report on the Communication Industry)

A. Leon, M. Ruggeri (eds.): Il costo del melodramma, Quaderno di Economia della cultura. Bologna: ed. il Mulino, 2004.

Ministero per i Beni e le attività Culturali, Dipartimento per la ricerca, l'innovazione e l'organizzazione: Dossier Studi - Strumenti per il Sud. PON ATAS 2000-2006.

Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita' Culturali: Il governo Berlusconi per la cultura, lo spettacolo e lo sport. Roma, 2004.

Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita' Culturali, V. Cazzato (eds.): Istituzioni e politiche culturali in Italia negli anni Trenta. Roma, 2001.

Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita' Culturali, Osservatorio dello spettacolo, C. Bodo (ed.): Più pubblici per lo spettacolo dal vivo. Politiche culturali e strategie di comunicazione per lo sviluppo della domanda. Firenze: Ed. Pontecorboli, 2000.

A.. Mottola Molfino: L' etica dei musei. Torino: Allemandi, 2004.

Parlamento Europeo: L' unità nella diversità - La cooperazione culturale nell' Unione Europea. Firenze: ed. Pontecorboli, 2001.

S. Settis: Italia S.p.A. L'assalto al patrimonio culturale. Torino: ed. Einaudi, 2002.

SIAE: Lo spettacolo in Italia. (Yearly statistical handbook on the performing arts, cinema and leisure activities), Rome.


"Notiziario". Roma: Ministero Beni e Attivita' Culturali.

"Economia della cultura". Bologna: il Mulino.

"Problemi dell' informazione". Bologna: il Mulino.

"Il giornale dell' arte", Torino: Allemandi.

"Il giornale della musica", Torino: Allemandi.

"Il giornale dello spettacolo", Roma: AGIS.

"Notiziario", Roma: Associazione CIVITA.

Italy/ 9. Sources and Links

9.2 Key organisations and portals

Institutions and public cultural agencies

Ministry for the Heritage and Cultural Activities

DG for Cultural Heritage and Museums

DG for Contemporary Arts and Architecture

DG for Archaeology

DG for Archives

DG for Libraries, Book Publishing and Cultural Institutes

DG for Cinema

DG for the Performing Arts

Central Institute for Restoration

Central Institute for Catalogue and Documentation

Prime Minister's Office - Department of Information and Publishing

Ministry for Communications

Ministry for Education, University and Research

DG for Higher Training in the Arts and Music

Ministry for Foreign Affairs - Department of Cultural Promotion and Cooperation

Italian Parliament

Chamber of Deputies


High Authority for Communication

RAI - Radiotelevisione Italiana - National broadcasting company

Cinecittá Holding

Conference of the Presidents of Regional Authorities - Cultural Heritage Committee

UPI - Union of Italian Provinces

ANCI - National Association of Italian Municipalities

Professional associations

AGIS - General Italian Association for the Performing Arts

CIDIM - Italian National Committee for Music

SIAE - Italian Society of Authors and Publishers

ACRI - Association of Italian Savings Banks


Cultural research and statistics

ISTAT - National Statistical Institute

Aedon - Online law review on the arts

ANMS - National Association of Science Museums

"ARCI Cultura"

Associazione Civita

Associazione Mecenate 90

Associazione per l'Economia della Cultura - Association for Cultural Economics


ECCOM - European Organisation for Cultural Organisation and Management

FAI - "Fondo per l'Ambiente Italiano"

Fondazione Fitzcarraldo

Fondazione ISMU - Iniziative e Studi sulla Multietnicità (Initiatives and Studies on Multiethnicity)

Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli - Documentation Centre on Foundations

Istituto per i Beni Artistici, Culturali e Naturali, Regione Emilia Romagna

"Italia Nostra"

"Osservatorio Culturale del Piemonte"

Osservatorio Culturale, Regione Lombardia

Culture / arts portals

"Antenna Culturale Europea" - information desk on EU programmes for culture

Economia della cultura

"El Ghibli", on-line journal of migrant literature in Italian language

Italian Museums

Il Giornale dell'Arte


Notiziario dei beni culturali Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita' Culturali

"Nuova Museologia" - Official journal of ICOM Italia and ANMLI - National Association of Local Authority Museums

"Patrimonio e Intercultura"

"Roma Multietnica" on-line guide

SBN - National Library Service


The Council of Europe/ERICarts "Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 9th edition", 2008