Since Roman times there has been an enduring tendency in Italy to regulate by law virtually every aspect of social and economic life – so much so that, in the context of this short report, a comprehensive overview of Italian legislation in the cultural field is a daunting task at the national level, and an almost impossible one at the regional level.
However, there are very few national general laws concerning principles, scope, funding procedures, employment status, etc. in the cultural field as a whole. Most of these issues have been usually dealt with vertically, in the framework of the numerous sectoral laws. However, more recently, two transversal laws – dealing simultaneously with several aspects concerning heritage, the live performing arts and cinema, as well as tourism – have been adopted by the Parliament in 2013 and 2014, upon the proposal, respectively, of Minister Bray (Law 112/2013 – Valore Cultura) and Minister Franceschini (Law106 2014, Art Bonus).
In this chapter we shall confine our analysis to the three blocks of the main national general laws adopted in the field, whereas sectoral laws – along with sectoral measures dealt with in the above-mentioned general laws – will be described in the thematic chapters.
General state cultural legislation in Italy mainly deals with the following aspects:
1. Reallocation of cultural responsibilities among the levels of government.
During the 1970s, immediately after the creation of the regions, Leg. Decree 112/1971 was adopted, conferring to the regional governments some limited responsibilities in the cultural field, only dealing with local museums, libraries and archives.Notwithstanding the strong pressure for more cultural empowerment exercised by the regions, the Parliament, while transferring responsibilities on the environment, did delay the transferring of cultural responsibilities: the only responsibility transferred was the decree dealing with “cultural promotion of local interest” (see Leg. Decree 616/1977). This quite general concept was flexible enough, though, to open the door to a certain amount of regional laws also dealing with heritage and the performing arts. After the rather silent 1980s, the decentralisation process had a new start at the end of the 1990s, with the adoption of Law 59/1997 followed by Leg. Decree 112/1998: the latter actually adopting a much more restricted scope for cultural decentralisation than Law 59 (for more details about content, see chapter 5.1.2). Such legislation was ultimately endorsed and further specified by Constitutional Law 3/2001, as well as by Constitutional Law 12/1/2016, waiting to be confirmed by a referendum.
2. Rationalisation and organisation of cultural competencies at the state level.
A reunification and rationalisation of cultural responsibilities in Italy was carried out on behalf of Pres. Decree 805/1975, creating the Ministry for Heritage (see chapter 1.1). Years later, Leg. Decree 368/1998 – while extending the Ministry’s responsibilities to performing arts and cultural activities, and consequently changing its name to Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities – also defined its new organisational structure, as well as for the first time, the objectives to be pursued by cultural policy (see chapter 3.2). Several subsequent Decrees adopted by alternate political majorities during the years 2000s – Decree 28/2004, Decree 233/2007, Decree 91/2009, Ministerial Decree 29August 2014 – the latteralso with a view to integrating and establishing synergies with the newly transferred competence on Tourism, provided the Ministry with new organisational structures. More recently, MiBACT is once again undergoing an in-depth restructuring by Decree 19/1/2016, (see chapter 1.2.2)
3. Recent transversal, general laws, dealing with the cultural sector as a whole
Law 122/2013 – Valore Cultura (Urgent measures for the safeguard, the valorisation, the re-launch of cultural goods and activities and of tourism).
This quite comprehensive law – aimed at tackling some of the most evident emergencies badly affecting the cultural sector – deals with a whole set of financial and regulatory measures concerning heritage, performing arts and cinema, as well as the support of contemporary art, with a particular focus on the involvement of younger generations in all of these domains. It also deals with the re-launch of tourism. A brief description of these new measures – several of which need further regulations in order to be implemented – is to be found in chapter 3.1, chapter 3.5.1, chapter 4.2.3, chapter 1.3.3 and chapter 7.2.1.
Law 106/2014 – Art Bonus (Urgent measures for the safeguard of the country’s cultural heritage, cultural development and the re-launch of tourism).
The main focus of this comprehensive, 18-article law is actually on tax measures, providing for much more generous tax reliefs for donations aimed at the safeguard and the restructuring of public cultural institutions and organisations (see chapter 4.1.4), as well as for increased tax credits in the domain of cinema (see chapter 4.2.6). Measures for improving transparency and efficiency for the Great Pompeii project are also foreseen ( chapter 3.1), along with new projects for the valorisation of the Royal Palace of Caserta and for the architectural regeneration of run down urban suburbs ( chapter 4.2.4). Besides the many other measures comprised in the Law, dealing with the lyric foundations ( chapter 1.3.3) and with tourism, it is worth mentioning that, in recognition of the success of the EU Commission’s project “European capital of culture” in boosting skills in urban cultural planning, special investments are foreseen by Law 106 for acknowledging the strategic importance of the planning carried out by all the many candidates for the Italian title for 2019, as well as for launching in the future a yearly competition for the title of “Italian capital of culture”.