8.1.1 Overview of strategies, programmes and direct or indirect forms of support
At present, Italian visual artists do not enjoy any special direct government 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 chapter 5.3.1) is Law 717/1949 on "2% for the arts", 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. A reform of Law 717 is presently foreseen by the government, in the framework of the Draft Law for Architectural Quality (see chapter 5.3.1 and chapter 5.3.5).
As for "droit de suite", virtually anticipated by the 1941 copyright law (see chapter 5.1.7), it was implemented only in 2007, thanks to Leg. Decree 118/2006, aimed at enforcing the European Directive 84/2001.
On the other hand, Italian tax legislation is not supportive of visual artists, nor do 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 has been until now mostly 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.
Increased support to artists and to promotion of contemporary art is presently also at the core of the activities of the new Museum of the Arts of the XXI century (MAXXI), which successfully opened in Rome in spring 2010, by appealing to unusually large audiences (see chapter 5.3.1). This bold, spectacular building, created by the architect Zaha Hadid on the grounds of an old army barracks, has actually been conceived not only as a museum, but as a laboratory for research and experimentation in contemporary arts.
It should be added that a new institutional actor committed to supporting young artists is the recently created Ministry for Youth (see chapter 4.2.7). One of the goals identified in its National Plan for Youth (2006) was the promotion of young people's creativity, and in particular of artistic creativity.
A new, unconventional actor – GAI / Associazione per il Circuito dei Giovani Artisti Italiani – should be singled out, as well, for its innovative and longstanding training, promotional and research activities in support of "youth creativity". From the legal point of view, GAI , started in 1989, is an association representing 39 local administrations (regional, provincial and municipal authorities) and private partners. Since 2001 it has also created a portal – http://www.giovaniartisti.it – providing information and resources in the field of the visual and the performing arts, as well as a database of young creators.
It is worth noting that GAI, in collaboration with the Ministry for Heritage, is a partner of the project DEMO-Moving up, actively promoting the creation of an annual fund in support of the international mobility of Italian artists. The fund – unique for Italy – was started in 1999, and has since provided support to 463 projects and 905 visual and performing artists. Furthermore, scholarships have been provided for artists in residence in Berlin, Paris, Istanbul and New York. GAI is also the Italian coordinator for the Pépinières Européennes pour Jeunes Artistes.