2. Current cultural affairs
Last update: May, 2022
The priorities of national cultural policies are connected to government main political and economic strategies. In the period 2016-2021, Dario Franceschini headed the Ministry of Culture from 22 February 2014 to 1 June 2018, followed by Alberto Bonisoli from 1 June 2018 to 5 September 2019 and again by Dario Franceschini from 5 September 2019. Since 2014, the Minister Franceschini fostered an extensive reorganization of the Ministry, that he considered “the country’s more relevant economic ministry”. The increase in visitors and income from State cultural sites before the pandemic is one of the most evident effects of the new valorization policies, implemented through initiatives such as the autonomy granted to various institutions, the creation of regional museums, the renewal of management, the free admission every first Sunday of the month, etc. (see chapters 1.1 and 1.2.2).
The main problem that the Ministries of Culture, expression of different government coalitions, had to face since the eve of the new century was the strong shortage in the public financing of culture, with severe constraints and drastic cuts inflicted since the 2000s on Ministry’s budget. From 2008 to 2015, in particular, allocations from this budget were increasingly reduced, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of total State budget expenditure (from 0.28% to 0.19%), highlighting a constant underestimate by governments of the role of the cultural sector for the national economy and social cohesion. This downward trend has partially changed in the last years. The total current transfers to households and social institutions, businesses and public administrations correspond to 0.26% of the 2019 Ministry's budget (see chapter 7.1.3). Total public expenditure on “cultural services” (both at central and local level) also underwent a strong decrease between 2015 and 2016, followed by a stable growth, with higher values at the local level (see chapter 7.1.1).
In Italy, some important non-profit organizations and entities with public participation contribute to enriching the debate on cultural management, playing an advocacy role towards the policy makers also in encouraging reforms and innovation in the sector. Among these: Fondazione Scuola dei beni e delle attività culturali (Foundation School of Cultural Heritage and Activities), ICOM Italia (International Council of Museums), Federculture, ANCI (National Association of Italian Municipalities), Associazione per l’Economia della Cultura (Association of Cultural Economics), Mecenate 90 Association, Civita Association, Fitzcarraldo Foundation, Symbola Foundation, etc.
The main challenges in which cultural policies and public debate have focused in the last years concern the following strategic issues:
- education, audience development, cultural participation and consumption;
- cultural professionals, new skills for public institutions and the role of artists;
- public/private governance models for cultural organizations and the rise of new business models;
- new funding opportunities for culture from private resources (see chapters 7.2 and 7.3);
- digital transformation;
- the role of the Third Sector for local development and social/cultural innovation;
- the adoption of systems and metrics for measuring the impacts of culture.
Although audience development, in particular, is at the center of the public debate, the efforts of policy makers and cultural operators for the democratization of cultural participation have often been unsuccessful, as demonstrated by the rates of cultural participation, which vary across the spectrum of socio-economic inequality (see chapter 6.1). Probably, due to a lack of aptitude for governing cultural participation and to the complex inter-institutional system of competencies at State level and the plurality of configurations to which cultural matters are subject in regional and municipal administrations, cultural consumption rates in Italy are particularly depressed, especially among citizens with low incomes and low levels of education and in the most disadvantaged areas of the country. Therefore, in Italy there is still a need to provide a quality educational and cultural offer in the less developed areas of the South.
Within this context, hundreds of public and private cultural organizations have worked hard to make their offer more accessible (with effective initiatives also addressed to the economic barriers to cultural consumption), through practices from education to marketing, from communication to digital engagement (see chapter 6.1).
However, one of the basic weaknesses of strategies dedicated to the expansion and diversification of audiences derives from the scarcity of available data and measurement tools adopted by policy makers and cultural practitioners. Deep knowledge of audience and evaluation of its satisfaction index represent an essential moment for defining the action strategies to be planned and supported. The monitoring of the quality of the services offered to the public by cultural institutes represents one of the most important challenge for defining the future cultural policies, in particular as regards the improvement and modernization of the methods of cultural use of spaces and collections. In this direction, there is still to be invested also in the field of training of museum staff and raising the awareness on the issues of public knowledge. ICOM Italia (the Italian Committee of the International Council of Museums) is committed to assisting the central and peripheral structures of the Ministry in defining guidelines and innovative organizational tools in line with international standards, giving priority to the question of professional skills.
On another level, a key issue in the context of cultural innovation strategies is represented by the digital transformation that cultural and creative organizations are facing. Information and data relating to the digitization of museums (see chapter 2.4) show that only a minority of these have developed a strategic plan with a roadmap for innovation, while most of the institutes in Italy suffer from resource problems (financial and professional) and from a lack of awareness about the real opportunities of technologies, both in terms of conservation/protection of heritage and valorization/promotion.
Last update: May, 2022
Cultural rights and duties are enshrined in several articles of the Italian Constitution (1948), most notably:
- Art. 9: «The Republic promotes the development of culture and of scientific and technical research. It safeguards the natural landscape and the historical and artistic heritage of the Nation».
- Art. 4: «Every citizen has the duty, according to personal potential and individual choice, to perform an activity or a function that contributes to the material or spiritual progress of society».
- Art. 6: «The Republic safeguards linguistic minorities by means of appropriate measures».
- Art. 21: «Anyone has the right to freely express their thoughts in speech, writing, or any other form of communication».
- Art. 33: «The Republic guarantees the freedom of the arts and sciences, which may be freely taught».
In an international framework, Italy ratified key documents such as the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1978, the Unesco Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Unesco Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in 2007, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2009, and (albeit belatedly) the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society in 2020.
Over the past twenty years, cultural access for all citizens, including under-represented and marginalised individuals/groups, has increasingly become a focus of cultural policy and cultural strategy documents of the Ministry of Culture, starting in 2001, when the Official Guidelines for scientific criteria and management standards in museums stated that «every museum has a duty to make sure that all visitors have access to its services, by removing architectural barriers and any other obstacle preventing or limiting attendance».
These Guidelines paved the way for Leg. Decree n. 42/2004 – where the public enjoyment of Italian cultural heritage was recognized as the institutional goal of safeguarding and valorization activities, and the need to guarantee accessibility «also for persons with disabilities» was specifically mentioned – as well as the 2008 Guidelines for the removal of architectural barriers in cultural sites.
In this framework, the creation of a DG for the Valorization of Cultural Heritage in 2009, and in 2014 of a DG Museums which took over most of its responsibilities, was meant to enhance the governmental action aimed at promoting access to heritage sites to as wide a range of citizens as possible. In 2018, new Guidelines were issued to draw up an Action Plan for the Removal of architectural barriers in museums, monuments and archaeological sites (where “architectural barriers” are also intended as cultural, cognitive and psycho-sensory ones) and a National Museum System (see chapter 3.1) created to ensure better cooperation between the different levels of government and private institutions, also with a view to promoting shared accessibility standards and «codes of conduct». The 2018 Guidelines also introduced a new professional figure for national heritage institutions: Accessibility Officer.
In terms of active participation, however, the normative framework is far more lacking, as the overdue ratification of the Faro Convention – with its emphasis on human rights, democracy, sustainable development, active citizenship and cultural diversity – clearly shows.
Although “participation” is mentioned, alongside “access” and “communication”, as a key principle in the annual National Plans for Heritage Education, published since 2019 by the DG Education, Research and Cultural Institutes, perhaps the most concrete effort at ministerial level so far was made in 2012, when the then DG for Valorization launched a call for proposals addressed to national museums and archaeological/historical sites, aimed at supporting them in the development of innovative forms of participation for a diverse range of audiences.
 The 2020 report on Accessibility and cultural heritage is a useful overview of the measures taken over the years at ministerial level, as well as of good practices developed by national and non-national museums / heritage sites.
Last update: May, 2022
When reporting on the role of artists and other cultural professions in 2020, mentioning the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is inevitable. The economic crisis following restriction measures and mandates did strike the entire cultural system quite heavily, a system which is per se fragile and having difficulties in recovering with severe consequences for related satellite sectors and the supply chain of creative and cultural companies.
The direct effects of the pandemic can be only approximated by defect. Both economically, financially (if considering that the production-distribution-promotion chain comprises other sectors as well, from tourism to transportation, and training, with their related satellite activities) and socially. Culture is an essential component of the life of the country, in terms of people’s wellbeing, identity values and inclusion. The negative effects are not easily quantifiable; let us mention here the effects of the non-acquisition of critical and cognitive instruments, for example the insufficient contribution – with hidden long-lasting effects – to the learning process of adolescents who have been deprived of theatre, dance and music literacy.
The pandemic events have highlighted the limits and weaknesses of our cultural system, firstly the imbalances in the labour market of reference, with a strong impact on the majority of workers in the cultural industries. They have mostly brought to light the central role of artists and other workers in the entertainment sector, while also focusing on the critical features linked to labour relations, protection and employment, which antedated the onset of the present situation.
Proof of this is the recurring evocation by workers and observers of the European Parliament resolution of 7 June 2007 on the social status of artists whose calls have remained largely unfulfilled in our country.
In the Resolution it is stated that Member States are called upon «to develop or implement a legal and institutional framework for creative artistic activity through the adoption or application of a number of coherent and comprehensive measures in respect of contracts, social security, sickness insurance, direct and indirect taxation and compliance with European rules».
If on the one hand the crisis has emphasized the critical issues of those components of the entertainment sectors, in particular small and medium-sized businesses, operating at the limits of financial sustainability, on the other hand it has triggered a serious unemployment crisis probably with medium and long-term consequences, and linked to a series of contributing causes: from the contraction in consumption to the possible closure (as in other sectors of the economy) of less resilient companies.
As reported in the Io sono cultura 2021 Report carried out by Fondazione Symbola and Unioncamere, 2020 saw a 9.3% decrease in the number of employees (understood as work units) in the cultural and creative sectors, equal to approximately 44,000 units, with a 17.5% decrease in worked hours, although we have to keep in mind that some sectors were penalized more than others, especially the performing arts and cultural heritage, due to the long-term closure of venues providing cultural opportunities.
It should also be added that the consequences of this situation have penalized in the first place the weakest parties in the contractual agreements, in particular the self-employed workers that we know to be by far much more present in this industry than in other economic sectors, and not only in Italy, as also stated in the European Parliament resolution of 17 September 2020 on the cultural recovery of Europe.
In order to cope with the epidemiological emergency, the Central Authority adopted various measures concerning businesses and workers in the cultural and creative sectors, as well as economic actions and social safety nets, including – and for the first time – access to furlough schemes for some groups of workers, as part of the overall measures being taken (in the first place via Prime Minister’s decrees). Emergency funds were created, non-repayable grants were made, and direct interventions were planned by the Ministry of Culture.
The events of recent years have led to renewed attention on the part of political decision-makers towards cultural work, and therefore to the adoption of measures aiming at improving workers’ conditions. Here, we refer in particular to the Decree-law n. 73 of 25 May 2021, combined with the conversion Law n. 106 of 23 July 2021, called: Urgent measures related to the COVID-19 emergency, for businesses, employment, young people, health and local services. Just to mention some of its main innovations, the new legislation introduces more favourable conditions than in the past for the entitlement to sickness benefits for all workers (employees and the self-employed) enrolled in the FPLS - Fondo pensioni per lavoratori dello spettacolo (Pension Fund of Entertainment Workers); it provides for a reorganization of the pension system by establishing new regulations with a different computation of working days; it revises the entitlement regulations for maternity and paternity allowances provided for by the law, extending them to all workers enrolled in the FPLS, whether employees or self-employed workers, who had been previously excluded from these benefits. The compulsory accident insurance was extended to self-employed workers enrolled in the Fund and entitlement to unemployment benefits was allowed.
In the second half of 2021, a legislative process was also started for the approval of new measures concerning the protection of workers in the entertainment business. With regards to the new strategies aimed at increasing cultural employment, mention must be made of the PNRR - Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza (National Recovery and Resilience Plan) prepared by the Draghi Government to access the Next Generation EU (NGEU) funds, approved on 22 June 2021 by the European Commission, and on 13 July 2021 by the EU’s Economic and Finance Council (Ecofin). In its Mission 1: Digitization, Innovation, Competitiveness, Culture and Tourism, the Plan includes a measure pertaining to the Cultural and Creative Industry 4.0, and sets as one of its objectives the increase of employment in the film sector and the growth of operators in the cultural and creative industries by focusing on skills and supporting the capability building of operators on green and digital issues. Likewise, the reform of active employment and vocational training policies, envisaged in Mission 5: Inclusion and Cohesion, deserves particular attention. These are issues that have been at the centre of the debate on cultural employment for many years; to date, effective active labour policies have not been undertaken in favour of cultural and creative sectors; and the vocational training concerning these sectors, although present in large parts of the country, has experienced significant disparities among the Regions in terms of effectiveness (see chapter 5.5). More in general, the development processes linked to PNRR foresee growth for all sectors, although possibly with different percentages and timing, so it may therefore be hoped that in the coming years the cultural sector will experience a positive impact on employment.
Last update: May, 2022
Digitalization has increasingly impacted the Italian cultural sector over the last years, with particular reference to cultural heritage, its preservation and valorization. Digitalization has been pushed along with Legislative Decree No. 83 of 31 May 2014 and subsequent legislation, called after Dario Franceschini, the Minister for Cultural Heritage from 2014 to 2018 who drove the reform through.
This reform recognized the relevance of innovating museums and heritage sites and acknowledged the centrality of users in enjoying cultural heritage. Alongside an organizational reshaping of the roles and units within the Ministry, digital actions were also pushed. These actions occurred at two levels: at the policy making and at the organizational level.
At the policy making level, the General Directorate of Museums, for the first time, analyzed the performance of Italian State museums based on their online reputation, thus relying on comments by visitors provided on online review platforms. The final aim was that of creating a network of all the Italian museums that could become part of such a network if some quality standards were achieved. Beside this monitoring activity, some organizational changes also occurred within the Ministry.
As far as the digitalization path is concerned, the main challenge is related to the creation, in 2019, of the Central Institute for the Digitization of Cultural Heritage, called the “Digital Library”: an institution with special autonomy, with the purpose of coordinating and enhancing projects of digitalization of the Italian cultural heritage (Art. 35 DPCM 2 dicembre 2019 n.169).
At the organizational level, with the Decree of the Director General of Museums, in 2019 a programmatic plan for the digital transformation of museums was approved. This document is intended to serve as a guideline for museums to enhance their digital transformation path and encompasses the following actions:
- The adoption of museum quality standards in each cultural heritage site in order to improve the service quality offered to visitors.
- The adoption of novel methodologies of digitalization of heritage, such as 3D modelling, augmented reality or gaming experiences.
- The adoption of big data and analytics to improve knowledge management within the museum.
- The adoption of customer satisfaction surveys to monitor the experiences of visitors.
- The adoption of georeferencing technologies to improve visitor experiences.
- The document was pragmatic in detailing actions and offering some further notes on how to manage a digital innovation project.
In terms of results and impact of these actions on the digitalizational level of cultural heritage sites, a survey conducted in January 2020 showed that 6% of Italian museums had a strategy plan that specifically targets digitalisation; 18% had a plan that was more generally related to the overall strategy rather than specifically focused on digitalization; while the remaining 76% had no plan yet.
As far as the level of technology is concerned, 15% of museums, heritages sites and monuments did not have a website, 76% were leveraging on social media to engage with users, 32% adopted an audio guide, 31% of respondents adopted QR-codes and beacons, while interactive installations were adopted by 28% of respondents and 3D displays and touchscreens were used by 26% of respondents. Finally, the less diffused technologies were virtual reality and augmented reality, adopted respectively by 11% and 7% of the sample; games were adopted by 5% of respondents and chatbots by 2%. It is also important to underline that technologies are continuously evolving and we may find different scenarios in the coming years.
Finally, an aspect strictly connected with digital transformation in the cultural field is represented by digital competences. At the policy making level, it has been acknowledged as important to act on competences and skills in order to educate and re-skill professionals in the cultural field with competences both in cultural heritage and in the digital humanities. Although several calls on this topic have been made over the years, a specific policy on this aspect is not developed yet. However, it is important to underline that the educational activities of the personnel in the cultural field are promoted by the Fondazione Scuola dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali that delivers, among the others, educational activities on digital competences.
 For more details, consider http://musei.beniculturali.it/progetti/monitoraggio-della-reputazione-online-dei-musei.
 Source: Art. 35 DPCM 2 dicembre 2019 n.169. For more details, refer to https://www.beniculturali.it/ente/istituto-centrale-per-la-digitalizzazione-del-patrimonio-culturale-digital-library.
 “Piano Triennale per la Digitalizzazione e l’Innovazione dei Musei”, available here http://musei.beniculturali.it/notizie/notifiche/piano-triennale-per-la-digitalizzazione-e-linnovazione-dei-musei.
 Survey conducted by the Observatory Digital Innovation in the Arts and Cultural Heritage of Politecnico di Milano, 2020. For more details, refer to https://www.osservatori.net/it/ricerche/osservatori-attivi/innovazione-digitale-nei-beni-e-attivita-culturali.
Last update: May, 2022
Although immigration and the growing diversity of the Italian population have become highly contested issues over the past two decades, there still seems to be no clear role insight for cultural policies to address them.
Due to its relatively short history as a country of immigration and to the constantly shifting moods of political coalitions, Italy’s “model of integration” is more difficult to pinpoint than in other European countries. In this general framework, it is not surprising that new citizens’ fundamental right to culture and freedom of expression, enshrined in the Constitution, has not yet been explicitly promoted – let alone regulated through specific legislation – by the State administration.
Immigration/integration policies have been primarily entrusted to the Ministry of the Interior, which is responsible for the safeguarding of civil rights with regard to immigration, asylum, citizenship, religious faiths and “historical” linguistic minorities. Other important actors are the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the Ministry of Education and UNAR (National Office Against Racial Discrimination). A relevant role in enhancing international intercultural dialogue through technical and financial assistance and capacity building in heritage matters is also played by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with MiC.
To this day, the most structured effort to encourage migrants’ cultural participation at state level was made in late 2015, when the former MiBACT in partnership with UNAR launched the #MigraArti project. It comprised two calls for proposals devoted to cinema and the performing arts, but was discontinued after only three editions.
By contrast, many interesting cultural programmes have been undertaken through the initiative of particular configurations of local authorities, NGOs and civil society (e.g. the National network of Intercultural Centres). However, in the past few years the most structured experiences (from the creation of ad-hoc Departments to the launch of long-term programmes) have come to an end due to severe cuts in cultural budgets and changes in the political make-up of local councils – not to mention, more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are of course exceptions to this trend. Milano Città Mondo is a project launched by the City of Milan and local diaspora associations, which gained momentum when the Museum of Cultures (where it is based) was inaugurated in 2015.
As for the few long-term initiatives, which managed to survive throughout the 2010s, when the “hype” around intercultural dialogue gradually started to subside, the Intercultural Service of the Libraries of Rome stands out for having established fruitful partnerships (e.g. the website Roma Multietnica) with several migrants' associations, schools, centres for adult learning and other organisations.
There are also noteworthy examples of private actors at least partly making up for the lack of structural policy-making at the public level. Since 2005, Fondazione ISMU – Initiatives and Studies on Multiethnicity has been constantly supporting heritage and museum professionals engaged not only in the promotion of migrants’ cultural participation, but also in the development of diverse interpretive communities, through its long-term programme and website Patrimonio e Intercultura.
An increasingly important role is played by non-profit organisations, both foreign and Italian (e.g. Suq Genova Festival e Teatro; the over 600 diaspora associations making up the Milano Città Mondo network; the Rome-based Archivio dell’Immigrazione).
The most “traditional” strategies range from promoting a greater recognition of other cultures (e.g the African, Asian and Latin American Film Festival in Milan) to the use of museum collections for language learning or the training of individuals with a migrant background as “guides” for their own communities in discovering the Italian heritage (e.g. the AMIR project in Florence).
In spite of the highly conservative nature of the museum sector, groundbreaking intercultural work has been carried out by small, medium and large institutions alike, including the Factories of stories audio-trail of the Uffizi Galleries. For a comprehensive overview of case studies, see the above-mentioned Patrimonio e Intercultura website.
As for the emergence of innovative intercultural forms, “social theatre” is by far the most experimental field on the Italian cultural scene, with well-established companies such as Teatro dell’Argine in Bologna, Teatro dell’Angolo in Turin, Teatro delle Albe in Ravenna and Teatro di Nascosto in Volterra.
Finally, “migrant literature” in the Italian language is being promoted through public libraries, associations (e.g. Eks&Tra), book publishers (e.g. Terre di Mezzo), on-line journals (e.g. El Ghibli), websites (e.g. LettERRANZA) and awards (e.g. “Concorso Lingua Madre” for women).
Last update: May, 2022
Diversity education made its official appearance in the Italian formal education system in 1994, with the groundbreaking Ministerial Memorandum on “Intercultural dialogue and democratic coexistence”. The key principles outlined in the document – still highly relevant, nearly 30 years on – were the following:
- Intercultural education should be considered as the pedagogical answer to cultural pluralism, rather than just a compensation measure;
- It must concern all students;
- It has to do more with the development of relational skills and dialogic identities than with the teaching of specific topics;
- It implies a less Euro-centric approach to school subjects, as well as the safeguarding of minority languages and cultures.
The implementation of these principles in the school curricula, however, has always been inconsistent due to the uneven territorial distribution of migrant communities across Italy, as well as the need for teachers/educators to deal with emergency issues such as welcoming the growing wave of foreign students and meeting Italian language teaching requirements. To this day, local school programmes – often undertaken in partnership with NGOs and local authorities – widely differ in terms of their goals and objectives, methodologies, tools, and expected outcomes, ranging from formal school activities to informal actions aimed at developing inter-ethnic relations, based on principles of equality and cultural pluralism.
Furthermore, between 1994 and 2006 there was a legislative gap regarding intercultural education, with only a few significant exceptions such as Law 40/1998 (which required schools to develop a number of intercultural projects aimed at «acknowledging linguistic and cultural differences as the basis for mutual respect, intercultural exchange and tolerance»). Against a background of the then staggering growth of the foreign school population, the Ministry of Education created a Unit for the Integration of Foreign Students in 2004.
In the following years, some long-awaited steps were taken to fill this gap and make up for lost time:
- in 2006, the publication of “Guidelines for the first reception and integration of foreign students” and of a “Policy framework document for the integration of foreign students and intercultural education”, as well as the establishment of an ad-hoc National Observatory;
- in 2007 and 2014, the Ministerial guidelines “The Italian way for intercultural schools and the integration of foreign students”;
- in 2015, the recommendations outlined in the Ministerial document “Different from whom?”, including the valorisation of linguistic diversity, the adoption of preventive measures against school segregation, and the promotion of intercultural education as a vehicle to improve relational skills and to develop an open attitude towards diversity and “otherness”.
The National Observatory for the Integration of Foreign Students and Interculturalism went through different reorganisations. After a couple of years of inactivity, it was reinstated in December 2019, a few months before the Covid-19 pandemic upended the lives of millions of students; the latest data available had just shown that one student in ten has a migration background, from kindergarten to upper secondary education (Ministry of Education, 2020). Not surprisingly, students with Non-Italian Citizenship (NIC) were the hardest hit by the introduction of distance learning. The Observatory memo “Language makes us equal” (September 2020) highlighted the challenges of the pandemic for a school system that is already struggling with ensuring equal educational opportunities for all. «Key strategies for not leaving foreign students behind in the near future involve: a) New investments in targeted learning tools for Italian L2. b) Promoting relational dynamics between Italian-speaking and non-Italian-speaking students with a view to improving language learning. c) Increasing the number of L2 teachers and experts in highly “multicultural” schools. d) Strengthening individual tutoring and support for all students facing difficulties, most notably unaccompanied foreign minors. e) Identifying quality criteria and guidelines for distance learning which take NICs into account» (Fondazione ISMU 2021).
Last update: May, 2022
In 2020, three TV players dominate the Italian traditional and new media sector in terms of annual turnover and audience share: Sky Italian Holdings (2,807 bln euros); Rai - Radiotelevisione Italiana, the Italian Public Service Media(2,488 bln euros); Mediaset, the Italian private broadcaster owned by the European Group MFE (1,801 bln euros). In 2021, in a medium day, Sky Italia (a satellite pay-Tv owned by the American Comcast Corporation), reached the 6.7% of of the national TV audience, Rai the 36%, and Mediaset reached the 31.9%. Between 2019 and 2021, the online supply by S-VOD (Subscription Video on Demand) international satellite digital platforms became strongly popular beside the traditional broadcasting television supply. Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Dazn, Discovery+ are the major groups in terms of billings and audiences. In the context of free-to-air TV, it is fast growing even the audience of the Advertising-VOD online platforms.
The Italian anti-trust measures to prevent media concentration are stated in the legislative decree 208/2021 (see chapter 4.2.6). Art. 52-55 contain the measures to promote the European and Italian cultural diversity through specific obligations in programming and investing on production of European/Italian products defined and stated for the PSM Rai, for the private suppliers of linear audiovisual media services and for audiovisual media services on demand subjects to the Italian jurisdiction.
Law 220/2016 (“Rules and regulations governing cinema and audiovisual”) provides support for the production and distribution of Italian content. A ‘Fund for cinema and audiovisual’ is established every year (on the basis of art. 26) to finance tax credits, “automatic subsidies”, “hand-picked subsidies”. Tax credits legally recognized are related to production companies (art. 15), distribution companies (art. 16), cinema exhibition, technical and post-production industries (art. 17), film supply strengthening (art. 18), the attraction of cinema and audiovisual investments in Italy (art. 19), companies not belonging to cinema and audiovisual sector (art. 20).
Rai Cultura e RaiStoria are two thematic channels broadcasted and offered in online streaming channels by the Italian Public Service Media, focused on Art and Culture. Since May 2021, a digital platform free and on demand is operating in Italy: ItsArt, a joint venture between Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, a public law body, and Chili, an Italian private company (see chapter 3.5.3).
Data related to the balance between Italian original programs and imported ones (European or extra-European), within the overall annual supply by single channels such as by the national media system are not available. Researches about the commercial balance in the Italian audiovisual services traditionally highlight a clear annual aggregate deficit, with the recent exception of 2019, when a positive result was registered.
In the audiovisual industry, there is a wide and deep agreement about the industrial and professional role in affirming the Italian culture and economy, even in terms of valuable employment and of growing professional skills.
Italy did not put in place any new measures or policies to promote the diversity of cultural expression in the years 2014-2021, when users subscriptions to digital platforms and multinational companies supply in streaming have grown considerably. The main recent debates among media professionals did not bring into focus the relations between public/private broadcasters in the context of EU competition policies, nor the preservation of the digital content diversity.
Themes as censorship and auto-censorship are recurrent in the public debates on the media about all sorts of subjects. Measures that could be seen as restricting content diversity in what is produced by the journalistic profession and industry in the audiovisual and print media have never been taken into consideration in contemporary Italy. There are not specific training programmes for journalists to raise their awareness of culturally sensitive topics, in order to ensure the diversity of views.
In broad terms, cultural diversity and pluralism on themes as the women role in society and in the audiovisual professions focused in numerous meetings and debates in Italy. Culturally sensitive topics, in order to ensure the diversity of views, are also integrant parts of the courses in the Centro Italiano di studi superiori per la formazione e l’aggiornamento in giornalismo radiotelevisivo in Perugia, and of activities undertaken by the Ordine dei Giornalisti and FNSI - Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana.
Last update: May, 2022
Article 6 of the Constitution (see Chapter 2.2.) has guaranteed the rights of the autochthonous, officially recognized cultural minorities (Germans and Ladins in the province of Bolzano, Slovenians and Croatians in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Greeks and Albanians in Southern Italy and Sicily, Catalans in Sardinia). National and regional legislation since the post-war period (most notably by Law 482/1999), although the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is yet to be ratified, also well safeguard the minority rights.
These minorities all enjoy citizen status and the related civic and cultural rights, with a particular focus on language matters in the educational sector and the mass media (see chapter 2.5.4).
While the safeguard of “historical” linguistic minorities is primarily entrusted with the Ministry of the Interior (Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration), autonomous Regions also play an important role, most notably Regione Trentino-Alto Adige, whose charter strongly upholds equal rights for citizens with different linguistic backgrounds.
The Roma and Sinti communities and individuals, still significantly segregated, although many are Italian citizens, and only a minority of them are “nomads”, represent the only exception to the safeguard of linguistic minorities. As the authors of the Civil society monitoring report on implementation of the national Roma integration strategy in Italy (December 2018) remark, in spite of «the explicit reference to their condition of particular vulnerability in the National Strategy for the Integration of the RSC (Roma, Sinti and Caminanti), there is no specific measure implemented at national level», nor any awareness-raising initiatives aimed at combating the deeply rooted prejudice against them. Not surprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic dramatically affected these communities, also in terms of educational poverty.
Last update: May, 2022
The government body in charge of gender equality in Italy is the Department for Equal Opportunities of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
The National Code of Equal Opportunities between women and men approved in 2006 represents the legal framework on gender equality (Law 198/2006). Gender quotas are in force according to Law 215/2012. With regard to public administration, a national directive of 2007 ensures the implementation of measures for equality and equal opportunities between men and women. It aims to ensure that the provisions in force are implemented within the public administration, increase the presence of women in management positions, develop good practices for the management of human resources in order to guarantee equal opportunities, as well as promote knowledge and application of the tools for equal opportunities between men and women by HR managers in public administration.
Considering the negative impacts of the Covid crisis, in discontinuity with the past, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan addresses gender inequalities in a transversal way. The Plan combines the three strategic axes shared at European level (digitization and innovation, ecological transition and social inclusion) with transversal priorities, including that of promoting gender equality. These are priorities pursued directly or indirectly in all six missions of the Plan. Interventions can be identified as measures “aimed at women” (planned with the specific objective of intervening in favor of women) and others as measures “indirectly attributable to the reduction of inequalities” (which could have an impact in the reduction of inequalities).
As regards specifically the cultural sector, a specific national Observatory on Gender Equality was established by the Ministry of Culture in 2021. It will be dedicated to the survey, study and dissemination of data on gender gaps, which play a fundamental role in influencing social awareness.
To encourage private subjects to pay more attention to gender issues, a possible tool is to condition public funding to transparency in the “gender-policy” (overall workforce, top positions, salaries, etc.) of the requesting organizations. A measure of this type is contained in the Audiovisual Law promoted by the Minister of Culture Franceschini (Law 220/2016) through specific incentives to producers who contract female directors and authors.
Some best practices, implemented by public and private subjects in the cultural field, are also worth mentioning:
- The campaign #8marzoalmuseo, launched in 2016 by the MiC, aimed at celebrating women artists and historic characters as well as promoting women’s cultural participation trough free entrance in state owned museums on the 8th of March;
- The Female Toponymy Association since 2012 puts pressure on local administrations so that street names also remember women in history (at the moment they are only 5% of the total) and invests in school projects;
- The Association Amleta, an inter-sectoral feminist collective that focuses on the presence of women in the world of performing arts, on the representation of women in classical and contemporary drama, and acts as a vigilant and constant watchdog to identify and combat violence and harassment in the workplace.
Last update: May, 2022
The normative framework for addressing disability issues has been broadly outlined in chapter 2.2., and may be defined as the most comprehensive by far in terms of promoting accessibility for audiences “with special needs”.
Efforts to provide a broad overview of an often fragmented cultural offer have also been made in the past few years, as shown by the following two examples:
- The A.D. Arte portal, funded by the Ministry of Culture - DG Museums, provides information on the accessibility features of national museums and archaeological areas;
- The MAPS project, launched in 2018 by ENS - Ente Nazionale Sordi (National Agency for the Deaf) and co-financed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, aims to create an online platform for showcasing museums/cultural sites with accessibility services for deaf people, to organise training courses on museum accessibility across Italy for deaf young people (aged 18-35), and to build a network for effective cooperation between public administrations, arts institutions and non-profit organisations.
Both in terms of policies and practices, however, the focus is still predominantly on removing barriers – whether they be physical, sensory or cognitive – rather than on promoting the creative potential of persons with disabilities. As a matter of fact, the increasing claim of the latter to be engaged as cultural actors and decision-makers, rather than as passive “users” of mainstream services and tools (e.g. sign language / tactile tours, Braille labels, easy-to-read guides), is by far the most interesting development of the past few years in the heritage sector.
A couple of examples in line with this audience-led shift in perspectives:
- MAXXI – National Museum of 21st century Arts launched a participatory project called “Mixt” in collaboration with ENS, the Italian Union of Blind and Visually Impaired People, and the National Federation of Pro-Blind Institutions. A team of deaf and visually impaired people with different educational backgrounds, museum professionals and IT experts developed narrative trails to help all visitors discover MAXXI’s architecture from new perspectives.
- Another interesting interactive project, “Ocean Space”, addresses the difficult issue of sign language glossaries through an unusual lens. Curated by a museum accessibility expert in collaboration with ENS, its goal is to create a shared glossary of signs relating to the oceans and climate emergency by actively involving the Italian deaf community, and with the scientific support of the Institute of Marine Sciences.
The National Recovery and Resilience Plan recently presented by Italy is aimed to remove architectural, sensory and cognitive barriers in museums, libraries and archives, as well as to promote a “culture of accessibility” (Mission 1) also through the training of qualified personnel. This initiative is likely to have a significant impact on the heritage sector and its ability to address the “special needs” of persons with disabilities, although a radical shift in mentality is still needed to deal with the equally important issues of representation, new interpretive perspectives and staff diversity.
In this respect, theatre has traditionally been far more groundbreaking and experimental.
Last update: May, 2022
Social inclusion is a distinctive cultural policy issue in Italy. However, it is pursued through initiatives mostly characterized by a fragmented, bottom-up approach, and it is still poorly investigated by social and statistical surveys.
A few initiatives are indeed promoted by the State, like “Take part!”, a call by the Ministry of Culture in favor of the marginal and peripheral areas of the country. Another example is Theatre in prison programs, which are strongly supported by the Ministry of Justice.
A growing number of individual initiatives, carried out separately or jointly by Regional and local authorities, associations of the Third Sector, public, and private cultural organizations, pursue social inclusion via cultural participation and engagement. In some instances, they are supported by UE funding programs (such as Creative Europe or Structural Funds). On the other hand, private foundations, like Compagnia di San Paolo, Fondazione Cariplo, Fondazione Unipol, and others, support both financially and technically many initiatives.
Museums, libraries, and theatre companies are particularly active in this direction. As also described in other sections of the report (eg. see chapter 2.5.6), they typically address disadvantaged groups, such as the targets listed below, to which specific projects are dedicated.
- Children, adolescents, and young people in conditions of educational poverty.
- People with moderate to severe physical, sensorial, or cognitive limitations.
- People with degenerative conditions (like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s), and their careers.
- People with special psychological needs (e.g., young people within the Autistic spectrum).
- Migrants newly arrived in Italy.
- Prison inmates.
- People with addictions.
In Italy, despite many good practices, the accessibility of the cultural offer for people with severe limitations remains well below actual needs. In 2015, for example, only 37.5% of Italian museums, both public and private, declared to be equipped with facilities for the disabled; only 20.4% offered material and information supports (tactile routes, catalogues, and explanatory panels in Braille, etc.) to favour a quality visiting experience by people with disabilities. Only 17.3% guaranteed free or reduced admission fee to disabled people and 14.4% to those accompanying them. In 2017, only 9.3% of people with severe disabilities over 13 years old declared to have taken part in at least three cultural activities (going to the cinema at least four times, to the theatre at least once, to a concert or to a museum, exhibition, or archaeological site). In the rest of the population without limitations, the corresponding share was 30.8%.
 See, for instance, the Sciroppo di Teatro - Theatre Syrup - project by the Regione Emilia-Romagna, a programme of Arts on prescription, where the Regional Theatre Agency, Pediatricians and apothecaries cooperate in providing theatre shows at 2 euros to children in educational poverty and their parents (https://www.ater.emr.it/it/progetti-speciali/sciroppo-di-teatro). See also Nati per Leggere - Born to read, (https://www.natiperleggere.it/). The program is present in all Italian Regions and offers free reading activities to families with children up to 6 years of age, which are an important experience for the cognitive development of children and for the development of parents' ability to grow with their children.
 See, for instance, the special program for the inclusion of the deaf and the blind and people with cognitive disability by the Colosseum park (https://parcocolosseo.it/education/attivita-accessibili/) in Rome; by the Galleria Borghese, also in Rome (https://galleriaborghese.beniculturali.it/en/visita/pubblici-fragili/), or the State Tactile Museum Omero in Ancona, entirely devoted to visitors with impaired sight (https://www.museoomero.it/en/).
 A growing number of museumsoffer dedicated programs. Among them, the Museo Benezzo Gozzoli (http://www.museobenozzogozzoli.it/en_GB/persone-con-alzheimer-e-chi-se-ne-prende-cura.html); the Museo Palazzo Magnani, and the network of about 60 Musei Toscani per l’Alzheimer, supported by the Regional Government (see chapter 2.7). People with Parkinson’s are the target of the Dance Well project, started by the Municipality of Bassano del Grappa (https://www.operaestate.it/en/dance-well).
 See, for instance,the Asperger’s Film Festival held at the MAXXI Museum in Rome (https://www.maxxi.art/events/asperger-film-festival-2021/), Music Therapy in Blue (http://www.tieniamente.it/music-therapy-in-blue-autismo-napoli/), a music therapy project for children with autism or other pervasive developmental disorders, which takes place in the province of Naples; The Tulipano Art - A dive into the blue, a project for the use and inclusion in the museum of people with autism and cognitive disabilities, at the National Archaeological Museum of Paestum (http://www.informareunh.it/accessibilita-dei-musei-alle-persone-con-autismo-un-bel-progetto-a-paestum/); Blue Museums gathers nationwide 16 museums (https://www.redattoresociale.it/article/notiziario/musei_blu_le_gallerie_italiane_per_gli_utenti_con_autismo#) on the occasion of the World Autism Awareness Day, with programmes dedicated to people with autism within a web platform aimed at promoting initiatives for equity, accessibility and inclusion of people with autism.
 Fondazione Alta Mane supports Interscambio Teatro con Migranti (https://www.altamaneitalia.org/interscambio-teatro-con-migranti/), a project of theatrical path involving migrant foreigners. Theatre on the run (http://artestudioteatro.it/progetti/project-2/) is a theatre workshop for migrant women dedicated to the issue of forced migration and takes place in reception centres for asylum seekers and in war zones affected by the relationship between refugees and the local population (Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran). The Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio was founded in 2002 by artists, intellectuals and cultural operators with the aim of enhancing the Piazza dell'Esquilino in Rome, the city's multi-ethnic district par excellence. Since then, the Orchestra has represented a unique reality that finds its raison d'être in the mixing of textual and musical languages (https://www.orchestrapiazzavittorio.it/orchestra/). OVER - Beyond the horizon - Counter-narratives from the margins to the centre is promoted by the National Coordination of New Italian Generations (http://conngi.it/oltre/).
 For many years now, thanks to the continuity of some of its experiences and the artistic quality of its works and performers, Theatre in Prison has become an integral part of the history of Italian civil theatre.
 Working withpeople with addictions is particularly challenging. Among the most innovative projects in the last five years, see Posto Fisso - Fixed Place (https://www.ediglobalforum.org/experience/posto-fisso-fixed-place/) at the GAMeC in Bergamo. Fragole celesti - Blue/Heavenly Strawberries (http://www.fragolecelesti.it/le-fondamenta.html), that offers programmes of free speech, painting, photography, poetry, theatre, dance, music to women who have been abused or repeatedly sexually harassed and had sought alcohol or drugs as an unnecessary and harmful comfort. Collettivo Gli Acrobati (https://www.gliacrobati.com/collettivo-gliacrobati/), that works with groups of psychiatric patients with a double diagnosis (i.e. with a history of psychological and psychic distress accompanied by forms of pathological dependency), who are characterised by clear artistic inclinations and talents.
 Istat 2019. Conoscere il mondo della disabilità. Roma: Istituto Nazionale di Statistica.
Last update: May, 2022
The societal impacts of the arts and culture are a frequent subject for debate in Italy. Given the complex governance of the cultural field in the Country (with the State, Regions, Provinces, Cities contributing often in overlapping, sometimes controversial or even conflicting ways) and the rich texture of the Third Sector, a synthesis is easier if we consider those impacts from the point of view of the various disciplines that express them.
Service-oriented cultural facilities, like public libraries, about 8,000 according to the 2019 official census survey, promote social and cultural projects targeting specific groups, like book workshops and reading groups; animations and courses for children; training courses; assistance or support to the public in writing resumes, as well as filling in forms or doing homework. Many libraries make their spaces and experience available for activities aimed at the cultural growth of citizens and at the enhancement of the territory: guided tours; exhibits; film shows; theatre performances and live music shows; and study and research about the local territory.
Despite their decline in attendance, as compared to the previous decade, cinemas have been often areas of social aggregation and citizen’s mobilisation, as in the case of Cinema America in Rome or the Arci Movie programme in Naples.
Cultural heritage institutions and museums have intensified their efforts to break down barriers and increase their accessibility, both physical and cognitive. In Tuscany, a network of 55 museums, Musei Toscani for Alzheimer’s have adopted a special approach for people with the syndrome and their carers. In general, museums pursue the goal of inclusivity by forging stronger connections with their territory and its actors, addressing new audiences, and devising strategies for engaging people with special needs. The Ministry programme towards a National Museum System, launched in 2018, includes the promotion of healthy relationships with the territory and its stakeholders, among the key criteria for admission, in line with the Faro Convention.
In many cities all around the country, projects of street art have contributed to the re-vitalisation of neglected or depressed areas. Often, those interventions are self-funded, thanks to crowdfunding initiatives.
The contribution of cultural heritage and the arts to promoting health and wellbeing and reducing social inequalities – all the more as consequence of the pandemic – is gaining momentum as a distinctive topic across the entire cultural sector, with mobilisation of museums, theatre and dance companies, libraries and individual artists, like musicians and visual artists. The main arguments are active ageing, development of life skills and soft skills in children and teenagers, the inclusion of migrant groups, and enlarging the activities for people with dementia or Parkinson’s, and their careers.
The Italian Third sector is particularly active in bridging the arts and cultural activities with social issues. In Italy, about 220,000 non-profit organizations, out of nearly 340,000, provide cultural, entertainment and sports services, and about 65% work in the field of the arts and culture for promoting and protecting civil rights (13%), support and assistance to vulnerable people or people facing difficulties (25%), and care of common goods (15%).
Last update: May, 2022
Although sustainability it is not a newly developed topic, as a key-factor that contributes to economic, social, cultural and environmental development, the discussions about sustainable growth in the cultural sector have entered the Italian political agenda only in recent years. The Covid 19 pandemic has been a catalyst of transformation in various fields, including the cultural system and the creative industry, directing the attention of public and private stakeholders to the different dimensions of sustainability.
Since 2015, the global community through a political agreement between different actors, to represent their values, priorities and objectives, has chosen the so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations. The United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC), which has set up a shared set of statistical information to monitor the progress of individual countries towards the SDGs, entrusted Istat (the Italian National Institute of Statistics), with the task of coordinating the production of indicators for measuring sustainable development in the country and monitoring its objectives. Periodically, it presents an update and an extension of breakdowns of the set of statistical measures for monitoring the SDGs.
In particular, The Bes - Benessere equo e sostenibile project was launched in 2010 with the aim of evaluating the progress of society not only from an economic, but also from a social and environmental point of view. To this end, the traditional economic indicators (GDP, first of all) have been integrated with measures of the quality of people’s life and of the environment. Among the Bes indicators, the presence of the domain “Landscape and Cultural Heritage” is motivated by the outstanding relevance of such themes in the Italian context. As regards the cultural sector, the indicators connected to this domain include current expenditure of Municipalities for the management of cultural heritage (museums, libraries, art galleries) in euro per capita; density and importance of museum heritage (number of permanent exhibition facilities per 100 sq.km, such as museums, archaeological sites and monuments open to public). On the other hand, the domain “Innovation, research and creativity” is considered as an indirect determinant of well-being and the base of social and economic progress. In the identification of suitable dimensions and the related indicators, an effort was done in estimating a creativity indicator, using as a proxy the percentage of employment working in cultural and creative activities.
As far as the creative economy is concerned, as described below in the Report (see chapter 3.5), it is widely agreed non only that it is highly transformative in terms of income generation, job creation and export earnings, but it also empowers people to take ownership of their own development, and stimulates the innovation and creativity, which can drive inclusive and sustainable growth.
On the cultural organizations front, the pandemic has launched a new challenge for Italian institutes, which through sustainability can best interpret their public utility function. In particular, some museums, through innovative projects and management approaches, are contributing to increasing attention to the issue of sustainability, both by implementing good organization practices, and by disseminating a culture of sustainability towards their audiences and stakeholders. Among the best practices, Museintegrati is a research project started in 2021 and coordinated by the MUSE (Museo delle Scienze di Trento), ICOM Italia (International Council of Museums), and ANMS (National Association of Scientific Museums), which aims to implementing in the museum environment the national strategy for sustainable local development and urban agendas.
 In the representation of the domain both objective and subjective aspects were considered. The first through indicators referring to the consistency, status, evolutionary trends of Landscape and Cultural heritage and of the related policies of protection and enhancement (based on existing data sources, and often through the integration of different sources); the latter through indicators of perception (which can be sourced only by direct surveys).
 Values weighted by the number of visitors.
Last update: May, 2022
Information is currently not available.