At a horizontal level, inter-ministerial co-operation has been traditionally pursued by the Ministry of the Heritage also by means of memoranda of agreements signed, for instance, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the field of international cultural relations (see chapter 1.4), with the Ministry of Education for arts training and education in schools (see chapter 5.1), with the Ministry of Justice for carrying out cultural activities in prisons aimed at the rehabilitation of offenders (see chapter 2.7).
A key development in horizontal co-operation has been the participation, since 1999, of the Ministry for Heritage in the Inter-ministerial Committee for Economic Planning (CIPE) of the Ministry for the Economy: a strategic committee, which is also responsible for the allocation of EU Structural Funds to the Objective 1 regions in Southern Italy, under the Community Support Framework, which substantially increased the amount of financial resources for culture in those underprivileged regions (see further).
As for vertical co-operation among government levels, common problems and quite frequent conflicts between the state and the regions have often been dealt with in the framework of the State-Regions Conference – also acting as a sort of “clearing house” for any controversy – and, more rarely, by the Constitutional Court.
Since the end of the 1990s, though, two interesting developments for more rationally planned state / region cooperation should be singled out, dealing, respectively, with the “Framework Planning Agreements” and with the “EU Structural Funds”.
Multilateral Framework Planning Agreements (“Accordi di Programma Quadro”) in the cultural field have been signed since 1996 by the Ministry of the Heritage with 18 of the 20 Regions. Financial resources are being made available by the Ministry of the Heritage itself, the Ministry for the Economy (CIPE), the regions, the local governments, in some cases by the European Commission, and by other private financial partners (the banking foundations, the Italian Bishop Conference, etc…) Although most of these agreements are aimed at fostering partnerships in the field of cultural heritage and museums, more recently some agreements in support of contemporary art and of the performing arts have been signed, as well.
The second, quite relevant kind of state-regions cooperation has taken place in the framework of the above mentioned EU Structural Funds and Cohesion Policies. If such regions have already benefited from several million EUR in capital investments in the cultural field under the 2000-2006 Plan, 476 million EUR out of the programmed budget of the Structural Funds for Italy’s Plan 2007-2013 have been allocated to pursuing the “priority themes” preservation of cultural heritage, development of cultural infrastructures and improvement of cultural services. In fact, the related projects and activities – aimed at fostering the sustainable development of the five Objective 1 regions, now Convergence Regions (Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Puglia, Sicilia) by upgrading their tourist attractiveness as well as the quality of life of the local population – are carried out by regional and local authorities in close cooperation with MiBACT’s Regional Secretariats as far as the general planning process is concerned, whereas the Soprintendenze lend substantial support in technical assistance for restoration, research and training activities.
It should also be mentioned that, according to a survey by Fondazione Rosselli (Structural funds for culture in Italy: for cultural heritage, beyond cultural heritage, 2012), the biggest share of the funds made available for culture under the 2007-2013 Cohesion Plan (82%) – as is often the case in our country – has been earmarked for the priority theme preservation, whereas themes like infrastructures and services are lagging behind, “thus showing a “conservative” attitude, not taking into account the potential of innovative management of the Italian cultural heritage”. Furthermore, whereas cooperation between MiBACT and the regions has been quite fruitful in improving planning skills and capacity building in public administration and in fostering more advanced forms of state-local partnerships, its effectiveness in boosting spending procedures has been so problematic that in June 2012 only 59% of the programmed European funds had been actually spent by the regions. In order not to lose such funds, in January 2013 the Ministry for Territorial Cohesion took over its subsidiary functions, by directly elaborating a plan for cultural attractors through which these resources could be allocated to the more immediately feasible projects. Most of the funds have been employed to finally starting off the Great Plan for Pompeii (see chapter 3.1), previously delayed by red tape. The remaining financial resources have been allocated to the Royal Palaces of Naples and Caserta, the archaeological museums of Naples, Palermo, Taranto and Reggio Calabria, and other museums, castles and archaeological sites scattered throughout the “Convergence regions”.
As for the programming period 2014-2020 – in the framework of the Italian Partnership Agreement – an ad hoc line aimed at “the enhancement of the enjoyment opportunities of the heritage in the areas of cultural attractors of national relevance” is also foreseen, and already endowed with 760 million EUR to be allocated to operational programmes managed by national and regional authorities. Its aim is to enhance cultural assets in the five Italian “convergence regions” (see above), this time not only by boosting safeguarding, but also access, along with the connected economic activities dealing with the creation of new entrepreneurship, planning and capacity building.
Furthermore, in order to improve the Italian efficiency in exploiting the opportunities offered by the European cultural programmes a special “Tavolo tecnico (Technical committee) Europa Creativa” – composed of 10 members representing both the public and the private sector – has been created in May 2014 (see chapter 3.5.1).