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

4.3 Other relevant issues and debates

In recent times, the main challenge in Italian cultural policy-making has been undoubtedly how to cope with the progressively growing constraints in the public and private financial resources supporting the cultural field brought about by several subsequent financial stability laws (see  chapter 4.1 and chapter 6).

New ideas and movements originated from the need to react to some of the negative effects of the related additional austerity measures. One of the most innovative emerged in the aftermath of the suppression, by the Stability law 2010, of Ente Teatrale Italiano (ETI), the Italian arm's length state institute for the promotion of theatre and dance established in 1942 (see chapter 5.3.2). Following ETI's abolishment and the transfer of its staff to MIBACT's DG for the Performing Arts, its three theatres were put on the market. Teatro La Pergola, in Florence, became a foundation owned by the municipality itself and by a banking foundation, whereas Teatro Quirino, in Rome, was privatised. But when the third theatre, Teatro Valle (the oldest theatre in Rome, founded in 1727), was about to be privatised as well, an upheaval of theatre people – actors, directors, musicians, and the whole Roman theatre community – fiercely opposed that decision by occupying the theatre in June 2011. This occupation has been going on for three years, during which the community running the "Occupied Teatro Valle" was able to offer its audience hundreds of theatre, music, dance and film performances, thanks to the solidarity of artists performing for free on the Valle's stage, including Peter Stein, Anatoly Vassiliev, Valery Gergiev, Dario Fo, Franca Rame, Nanni Moretti, etc. Meanwhile, though, utilities and other operating expenses were the responsibility of the theatre's owner, the Rome Municipality…

The theatre's occupation finally came to an end in August 2014. According to an agreement between MIBACT and the Municipality, Teatro Valle has been entrusted to the municipal Teatro di Roma, and thus added to its two existing venues: the Teatro Argentina, another historical municipal theatre, and the experimental, suburban Teatro India: a quite satisfactory compromise indeed for all parties, ruling out privatisation.

The theatre's occupation gave rise to a broad movements of citizens, aimed at supporting a category of goods meeting the fundamental rights of the whole citizenship and enjoying a special status: common goods / "beni comuni" (among which cultural goods, air and water – the latter also threatened by privatisation in Italy). Thousands of Circles of "Citizens for the common good" have thus been created throughout the country (see also Salvatore Settis, Azione popolare. Cittadini per il Bene Comune, 2012).

It should also be mentioned that, in 2013, the idea of culture as a common good and as a fundamental right (in terms both of access and creativity) for all citizens, including those with a migrant background, has been authoritatively endorsed for the first time by a Minister for Heritage, Massimo Bray, in the introduction to his Programme Report for his Ministry in front of the Parliament (see chapter 4.1).


Chapter published: 14-07-2016


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