As already noted, Istat’s National Accounts data on public cultural expenditure are broken down (according to COFOG’s two digits classification) mainly between two functions: cultural services and audiovisual and publishing services. A slightly more detailed (although insufficient according to the Eurostat classification) breakdown by domain for state cultural expenditure is made available only by MIBACT, the ministry responsible for the bulk of such expenditure. Table 5 shows the amount and trend of MIBACT’s final expenditure in the 2000s broken down by administrative units according to the Ministry’s budgetary classification. These units have been regrouped in five domains: Heritage, Libraries and Archives, Performing Arts, Cinema, Administration and Interdisciplinary.
The quite significant decline in the expenditure of the ministry mainly responsible for culture since the turn of the century is clearly highlighted in the table, which shows that such decline was not only, like in other countries, the negative fall out of the economic downturn, but that it went back much earlier, as the result of a long-lasting governmental negative attitude to the financial support for culture and the arts.
Table 5: Expenditure of the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities by domain, 2001, 2013 and 2014 (final expenditure, million EUR)
% var. |
|Libraries and Archives||435||274||286||-34||+4|
|Administration and Interdisciplinary||313||309||322||+3||+4|
|Total*||2 345||1 609||1 656||-29||+3|
Source: Elaborations by Associazione per l’Economia della Cultura on MIBACT’s final accounts.
Since 2001, the overall decline in the Ministry’s expenditure has been very sharp, indeed (-29%, inflation not being taken into account) and unevenly distributed among the different domains. Heritage has been the most dramatically affected (-40%, although part of the R&D expenditure for heritage is supposedly included in the Interdisciplinary domain). Archives and libraries rank second in the loss of state funds (-34%), followed by the Performing arts (-26%) and Cinema (-18%). On the other hand Administration and interdisciplinary did better, with a slight increase in the considered time span (+3%).
It seems, though, that the bottom of the utmost decline in MiBACT’s budget has been reached: if the year 2014 has witnessed only a small budget increase with respect to the previous year, a more substantial reversal of the negative trend in our country’s national government’s expenditure for culture is presently in view. Notwithstanding the persistent downward trend in Italy’s state expenditure, in fact, MiBACT’s allocation in the 2016 provisional budget – 2 028 billion EUR – has again overcome – for the first time in years – the threshold of 2 000 billion. A first, if small, turnabout….