8.1.1 Overview of strategies, programmes and direct or indirect forms of support
At present, Italian visual artists do not enjoy substantial direct government support, and make their living either in the marketplace (if they manage to reach fame) or through second jobs (mainly teaching at schools or arts academies).
The main 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 long overdue reform of Law 717 – foreseen in the framework of the Draft Law for Architectural Quality (see chapter 5.3.1 and chapter 5.3.5) – is still waiting to be carried out.
Another measure in support of contemporary artistic creativity is the already mentioned art. 3 of Law n. 29/2001 (see chapter 5.3.1), providing for the drafting of Plans for Contemporary Art aimed at increasing the national asset of contemporary works of art (by living artists, or anyway less than 50 years old) including photography, industrial design and architectural plans.The law is implemented by means of triennial plans drafted by MiBAC's Unity for Architecture and Contemporary Art in agreement with its main beneficiaries: the national museums and galleries of modern and contemporary art. However, its endowment for 2013 actually being of only 1.6 million EUR, no wonder that the newly appointed Minister Bray recently declared at the Venice Biennale that the amount of public resources allocated for contemporary art in Italy "is shameful".
In addition, it must be underlined that, compared with the other European countries, and in particular Northern European countries, Italian legislation in general has not been until now very supportive of visual artists, who neither enjoy (as it happens in other countries) ad hoc social security measures or fiscal incentives, nor have regular access to low rental rates for travel grants, working spaces, etc. As far as the latter are concerned, though, an ad hoc measure in favour of young artists has been adopted for the first time in the framework of Leg. Decree n.91/2013. According to the Decree (art. 6), in order "to foster the availability of areas for the creation and production of contemporary arts", the Minister of the Cultural Heritage will single out every year a list of unused real estate properties belonging to the state administration to be hired at low rental prices as working spaces to cooperatives or associations of artists aged between 18 and 35.
For the time being, government support for the promotion of contemporary creation in the visual arts has been 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) – successfully inaugurated by MiBAC 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, and enjoying an autonomous foundation status, 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)wasthepromotion of young people's creativity, and in particular of artistic creativity. In 2011, the Ministry jointly promoted with ANCI (National Association of Italian Municipalities) an ad hoc call for proposals.
An 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.
Finally, banking foundations are increasingly supporting youth creativity in the arts sector, by launching new call for proposals such as "Promoting Youth Creativity" (Fondazione Cariplo) and "Creative Generation" (Compagnia di San Paolo). The call "fUNDER35" (Fund for Youth Cultural Enterprise) in particular should be singled out, being the result of a cooperation between 10 banking Foundations from North and Central Italy.