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 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 safeguard (tutela) and valorisation (valorizzazione), the latter referring tomanagerial 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 / valorisation – 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" on heritage and the arts still seems to be out of reach. As a result, controversies between the state and the regions – dealing in particular with the allocation of state funds for the performing arts (FUS) – had to be frequently settled by the Constitutional Court (see chapter 5.3.6). As far as heritage is concerned, the 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 chapter 5.3.3), did not succeed in settling this problematic issue once and for all (Cammelli, 2003). It should be noted that fruitful cooperation between the Ministry and the regions has been achieved, in recent times, through the participation in joint planning programmes (see chapter 3.3).