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Italy/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy  

2.1 Main features of the current cultural policy model

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

The economic model isclosely 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, whereas the cultural industries – with the exception of RAI, the state owned radio-television corporation – are mainly supported by the marketplace, although supplemented bypublic subsidies in case of poor market performance: which has been frequently the case, for cinema and the press (see chapter 5.3.6 and chapter 5.3.7). In particular, state support for the press increased tremendously during the 1990s, to suffer a staggering reduction in more recent years. On the other hand, heavy constraints on the national budget induced public authorities of all levels of government to encourage a direct involvement both of the non-profit private sector and of the marketplace even in the fields of heritage and the performing arts.

As far as government action is concerned, the administrative model has traditionally beenone of direct intervention 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"). At the national level, a few quasi-independent (arm's length) public bodies do exist – like the Venice Biennale (see chapter 7.1). On the other hand, the cases of "désétisation" have been very few so far, the most notable one dealing with the once national Museo Egizio in Turin, which – having been given "foundation" status – has been restructured and is now very brilliantly jointly managed by national, local and private partners.

A more autonomous status has been recently decided for twenty - soon to be thirty - state museums and sites, although still operated at state level (see chapter 3.2).

New models of public-private partnership, have been until now more boldly experimented by local authorities through the so called "gestioni autonome" (autonomous operated organisations): Musica per Roma – the foundation operating the three Rome Auditoriums by Renzo Piano – may be considered one of the most successful examples.

Chapter published: 05-07-2016

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