Although there is no official definition of cultural industries in Italy, what is generally understood under this term are those cultural goods and services which can be “technically reproduced” (Walter Benjamin), or “industrially produced and commercially sold” (Edgar Morin): books, the press, radio- television, cinema, recorded music, and the new media.
On the other hand, it is worth noting that the enlarged term creative industries – extended to other highly creative contiguous industrial sectors, like fashion, gastronomy, advertising…- has not been in common use in Italy, as it has been in the Anglo Saxon world, until recently. Only in 2007, an ad hoc Study Commission was entrusted by the Minister for Heritage, Rutelli, to elaborate a report on the issue of “creativity and cultural production in Italy”. The report Libro bianco sulla creatività. Per un modello italiano di sviluppo, edited by the cultural economist Walter Santagata – an extensive survey on the issue of “creative industries” in Italy, completed with proposals for action – was published in 2009. Furthermore, since 2011 the Fondazione Symbola / Unioncamere has already published four Reports entitled Io sono cultura (I am culture) on therole and scope of the creative industries in Italy (for the 2014 Report, see http://www.symbola.net/assets/files/Io%20sono%20Cultura%202014%20Completa_1404117089.pdf).
It was as an aftermath of the elaboration and the launching of the European 2014-2020 Programme “Creative Europe” (see chapter 1.4.2) that the term creative industries became very popular in Italy as well. Even more so when, in order to encourage Italian cultural organisations and enterprises to be more efficient in exploiting the opportunities offered by the European programmes – both direct (Creative Europe, Horizon…) and indirect (Regional Fund, Social Fund… ) – supporting the cultural field, Law 112/2013 Valore Cultura provided fora special “Tavolo tecnico (Technical committee) Europa Creativa” to be created by MiBACT. Enacted in May 2014, the committee is composed of 10 members appointed by the minister, representing the public sector – ministries and regional authorities – as well as the private sector. Its main task is to connect institutions and organisations from different backgrounds to further growth by boosting creativity and innovation, also by means of the European cultural programmes.
On the other hand, going back to the Italian cultural industries as understood under the above mentioned more classical and traditional meaning – the 1990s had already been a problematic and challenging period. Compared with the then positive economic and financial trends in the heritage field and in artistic and cultural activities, in fact, the development trend in the cultural industries lagged behind (Rapporto sull‘ economia della cultura in Italia 1990-2000). The situation further declined in the 2000s, when the faster pace of digitalisation, combined with a drop in income both from sales and from advertising for all the classical media, television, radio and the press (-16% between 2010 and 2014: from 9.8 to 7.4 billion EUR – AGCOM 2015 data, http://www.agcom.it/relazione-annuale-al-parlamento-2015) and from state subsidies, brought about a downsizing of the whole Italian classical cultural industries and related employment.
The decline in the available financial resources especially affected the press (-30%), an industry heavily dependent on state subsidies in Italy, according to legislation adopted in 1981 (see chapter 4.2). As Italians, since then, have been reading and buying less and less newspapers (112 paying copies for every 1 000 inhabitants in 2007…but only 60 copies in 2013: that is, well below the European average!), a heavy loss in income from sales could not be compensated by the declining advertising income, notably in a country where most of the financial revenue from advertising is drawn by television networks. This ongoing situation of market failure, initially called for a substantial increase in state support for the press: from 439 million EUR in 2000 to a peak of 506 million in 2007 (+15%). More recently, though, state subsidies to publishing houses – heavily affected by the current financial constraints – progressively fell to 377 million EUR in 2009, to 151 million for 2013… to finally reach only 40 million in 2015: 1/12 of the subsidies granted in 2007 (Department’s for Information and Publishing data). Coupled with the heavy losses in advertising, future prospects are so grim for a publishing industry already under strain, that several newspapers and periodicals may not be able to survive (see chapter 4.2.6).
In contrast, the Italian film industry – which had also suffered a negative downturn around the mid-1990s, when the yearly production of films fell from more than 200 in the 1970s to the unprecedented low level of only 77 films in 1995 – has fared much better in the first decade of the 2000s. Such progress was initially due to the belated implementation of Law 122/1996, which provided for reallocation of part of the financial resources collected by major television companies – no less than 20% of license fee revenues for RAI, and 10% of advertising revenues for national commercial networks (Mediaset) – to the production and acquisition of Italian and European films and audiovisual programmes. Later on, Italian film production has further benefited from innovative fiscal measures such as tax credits and tax shelters set up following the 2009 legislation ( chapter 4.2.6). Notwithstanding decreasing direct state contributions, these measures, fostering indirect support to the cinema industry, gave a strong boost to new production of films and TV programmes, thus providing a stimulus for a new generation of film makers as well as actors. Notwithstanding the economic crisis hitting the country, until 2010 all the indicators were still surprisingly positive, and only since 2011 data started to undergo significant ups and downs, consequent to the drop in citizens’ willingness to pay for going out, combined with the significant cuts in public subsidies.
In 2014 trends in the cinema industry have actually been quite contradictory compared with the previous year, as a quite significant decrease in attendance (-7%), as well as in the market share of Italian films – from 30% to 27% – has been counterbalanced by an increase in the number of Italian films produced:201 films, +20% (MiBACTS/ ANIC-AGIS data). Not to mention the success and the prizes gained at the Cannes film festival by films by Moretti, Garrone, Sorrentino…It should be added that government support to the film industry amounted in 2014 to only 203 million EUR, direct state support having been overcome by tax credit finance (44% against 56%).
As far as the latter is concerned, the threat that – according to Law 244/2007 (see chapter 4.2.6) – the tax incentives for the production of films, expiring after 2013, may not be renewed, has been causing much concern in the cinema industry in recent years. Law 122/2013 Valore cultura – which not only confirmed the existing tax credit measure, but turned it from temporary to permanent – was therefore greeted with relief. A further increase of 5 million EUR has been provided for by Law106/2014, Art bonus, by upgrading the amount of tax credits available for foreign films shot in Italy. The financial stability law for 2016 establishes the related budgetary allocation at 115 million EUR for 2015 and 140 million for 2016.