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San Marino/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.1 Amateur arts and folk culture

The dynamism of the San Marino people is testified to by the continuous creation of new cultural and social associations, which certainly reflects a positive trend. In March 2004, a study showed that one out of every two citizens participates actively or passively in an association.

The first association was the male section of the Mutual Aid Society (SUMS), created in 1874. Originally established to provide subsidies to those who could no longer work, the Society soon began to carry out several initiatives promoting industrial development and assisting all institutions supporting the well being of the working class. 25 years later the SUMS opened up to the female world, by promoting solidarity and support, but also occasions of social aggregation and cultural development. These entities were very important within San Marino society, which was characterised by great poverty at the time. Among the cultural initiatives promoted by the SUMS, worth mentioning are the Folk University (1904), open to the entire population, and the Amateur Dramatic Society.

The "Piccolo Teatro Arnaldo Martelli" was established in 1963/1964; the name comes from its founder, a San Marino professional actor, interested in local amateur theatre companies. Since then, the San Marino amateur theatre company has started a productive and uninterrupted process: over the years, the group has staged the most challenging authors of dramatic and comic genre, by establishing, in some cases, important collaborations with foreign directors. Since 1976, the members have also staged dialect performances, with a fixed annual event on the occasion of the celebrations for the joint patron Saint Agatha. The association - composed of 30 members - receives economic support from the State and sponsorship from the Township Council for its activities.

The "San Marino Choir" was created in 1960, bringing together the choristers of the former Governmental Chapel and the former Salesian Schola Cantorum, as well as music and song lovers. Subsequently, a policy of cultural exchange was started, which lead the Choir to perform in San Marino and in the most important non European, European and Italian cultural centres. The adult section includes about 35 persons, all voluntary; besides this section, there is also the chorus of treble voices "Piccole Voci", with about 40 children. The Choir benefits from annual grants issued by the State for services rendered during official celebrations, economic support of sponsors such as banking foundations and economic operators for specific projects, and sponsorship from the Township Council.

Freedom of assembly and association, freedom of thought, conscience and religion are provided for by the Declaration on the Citizens' Rights of 1974 (see chapter 5.1.1). The first law recognising and regulating the freedom of association dates back to the 1977 Law regulating cooperative societies and replaced by a new one in 1991. The latter established the Council of Cultural Associations and Cooperatives which gathers together an increasing number of associations under one umbrella, in particular from the fields of theatre, photography, local culture, music, arts, reading, dance, history, environmental protection. Its creation underlined State recognition for the value and autonomy of such associations. Among the Council's tasks are to allocate State funding for associations, to organise meetings where participants can exchange views and experiences and to promote common cultural initiatives. For more information concerning State support of these associations, see chapter 8.1.4.

A 1989 Law regulates cooperation between volunteers and public entities. The 2001 government paid special attention to volunteer activities as a supplement to public services and included the promotion of culture in the new policy plan - the main objective being the qualitative improvement of cultural institutes and support for associations. San Marino celebrated its First Volunteer Day on Saturday, 18 September 2004, organised by the Council of Cultural Associations and Cooperatives.

In the meantime, on 5 December 2010, on the occasion of the International Volunteer Day designated by the United Nations, Attiva-Mente (Sport and Cultural Association of Disabled People) launched the initiative entitled "Call for a Law on Voluntary Work", with a view to raising awareness on the adoption of new legislation in this sector, which needs to be adequately regulated and recognised.

In December 2012, after approximately one month from the beginning of the XXVIII legislature, two parliamentary groups submitted a Petition to commit the government to reforming the non-profit and volunteer associations and to promoting forms of collaboration and co-management with these associations. In March 2013, the same promoters submitted a new Petition, approved by a majority of the Parliament, committing the government to developing, by 31 December 2013, a draft law reforming non-profit organisations, volunteer associations and Foundations.

The Ministries of Health and Education submitted a draft law relating to volunteering, in March 2014, in response to the requests expressed by the political and social groups. The text takes into account the objectives expressed for the European Year of Voluntary Activities (2011) and fills a gap in the San Marino legislation by defining and regulating non-profit activities, which are carried out exclusively for charitable purposes. These have to be separated from the activities performed by associations, which also include fee-based services and non-profit cooperatives. Therefore, the draft law shall regulate this activity and specific related areas, in particular the primary objectives of volunteering, the privileged contexts in which volunteers can build on their potential, specific protection measures against the risks faced by volunteers and those benefiting from volunteer activities, as well as appropriate and regular training to ensure access for all (see also chapter 3.4.5).

The draft law, which was limited to regulate foundations, proceeded its legislative process and is currently at the second reading by the Parliament. The law will amend the current law on foundations (Law no. 130 of 29 November 1995) and will cover all foundations, excluding the Central Bank Foundation and other banking foundations, which will continue to be governed by the current legislation that will also be amended through a special legislative provision. This law also includes NPO (non-profit organizations), private entities with the legal status of foundations pursuing charitable purposes and performing altruistic activities.

One of the main changes made to the law is the significant reduction of assets needed for the establishment of a foundation. Another amendment to the law concerns the distinction between establishment by act inter vivos and by legacy; in both cases the foundation must be established by public act or will. Moreover any revenue arising from direct or ancillary activities cannot last longer than fifteen days.

With regard to the sector of culture and popular art and to the government policies adopted to support development and participation in this field, reference is made to chapter 4.2.5 on the rediscovery and enhancement of the use of dialect and to chapter 8.2.2 for the promotion of the groups of San Marino historical and popular traditions.

Chapter published: 07-10-2015

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