4. Law and legislation
Last update: May, 2016
The articles of the Italian Constitution of 1947 directly referring to cultural matters are Articles 9, 21 and 33 (see also chapter 1.1):
- Article 9: "the Republic promotes the development of culture…and protects the historic and artistic heritage of the Nation";
- Article 21: "everybody has the right to freely express his own thought through words, writing, and any other means…"; and
- Article 33: "art and science, as well as their teaching, are free".
On the other hand, among the Articles of the Constitution providing for the creation of the regions, Article 117 gave a very narrow scope to their responsibility in cultural matters, by only limiting the devolution of national functions to "local museums and libraries".
When the regions were set up, Leg. Decree 112/1972 devolved cultural competencies to the regions according toa strict interpretation of Constitutional Article 117. This resulted in a long, partly successful, but still pending fight by the regions aimed at broadening the severe constitutional limits to their cultural actions.
Last update: May, 2016
No general law exists in Italy dealing with the allocation of government funds to the cultural field as a whole. At the state level, criteria for the allocation of funds and in some cases even their precise amount, have been established through the years by several sector specific laws, and only in recent times in some more comprehensive laws (see further…).
On the other hand, around the turn of the century, legislation aimed at coping with the shortage of funding was passed, to allow the allocation to the cultural field of additional public money drawn from other sources. Most important are:
- Article 3 of the Budget Law 662/1996, providing for a portion of the national lottery revenue to be dedicated to the safeguard and restoration of cultural goods; and
- Article 60 of the Budget Law 289/2002, establishing that 3% of public capital expenditure for "strategic infrastructure"should be assigned to the financing of cultural goods and activities.
1. Funding culture through lottery money
While looking for alternative, additional funding sources to face the huge burden related to the protection of Italy's exceptionally relevant and widespread heritage, it was up to the then Minister Walter Veltroni to decide that part of the related costs would be provided from revenues generated through the national lottery.
Law 662/1996 provided for a share of the profits from the newly introduced Wednesday national lottery draw - added to the regular Saturday draw - to be given to the cultural sector. This lottery share (for which a yearly cap of 155 million EUR was then set) "is allocated to the Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities for the restoration and preservation of cultural, archaeological, artistic, and archival and library goods". Lottery funds – allocated in advance, and, unlike statutory funds, based on triennial plans – have undoubtedly contributed to a great improvement in the planning capacity of the Ministry.
The law was first applied in 1998. At the end of the second triennial plan in 2003, more than 300 major and minor restoration projects concerning monuments, museums, archaeological parks, libraries, etc., around the country were supported via the Lottery Law. However, due to heavy cuts in state funding for cinema and the performing arts, the Law Governing the Lottery was amended in 2003 to include opera houses, festivals and national film companies among the possible recipients of such funds.
Furthermore, since 2007, the yearly allocation of 155 million EUR of lottery money to the cultural sector has been progressively and substantially downsized: it was halved to 79 million EUR between 2007 and 2009, heavily reduced to 48 million EUR between 2011 and 2012, and then halved again to as little as 23 million EUR for 2014.
2. Funding culture through a percentage of capital investment in infrastructure
A new company, ARCUS/Societa' per lo sviluppo dell'Arte, della Cultura e dello Spettacolo, was established under Law 291/2003,to manage funds collected under the 3% of "capital expenditure for strategic infrastructure rule", which are additional to the ordinary budget administered by the Ministry for Heritage. According to Law 291, the company's mission is "the promotion, through technical, financial and managerial support, of projects and actions aiming at the restoration of cultural assets and at the promotion of activities in the field of culture and the performing arts". The shareholder of the company's capital – funded by 8 million EUR in 2004 - is MiBACT, and the company's board is entirely composed of national government appointees.
The funds have been allocated through the years to different kinds of cultural activities: from the restoration of Villa Gregoriana in Tivoli to satellite monitoring of archaeological goods, to the Orchestra Toscanini in Parma, etc. Nevertheless, the lack of transparency in the way ARCUS was managed – sometimes defined as a sort of "privatisation of public funds" – has been so controversial, that even the Court of Accounts deplored "the excess of discretionary power and the lack of planning, transparency and sound procedures still characterising the company's management".
The long delayed revision of the ARCUS structure came about initially with Decree 182/2008. Accordingly, the amount of funding stemming from the 3% of the infrastructures to be transferred to ARCUS had to be jointly established by the Ministry for the Economy and the Ministry for Infrastructures, whereas it was up to the Ministry for Heritage to draft a plan for the breakdown of the available financial resources (70% of which was to be earmarked for the heritage, 30% for the performing arts and cultural activities). Notwithstanding the agency's persistent use of discretionary powers - again questioned by the Court of Accounts – ARCUS, endowed with 100 million EUR for the years 2011-2013, has continued to operate up to 2015, on the restoration of monuments, cathedrals, archaeological sites, the refurbishing of museums, the support of theatre and music festivals as well as of Cinecitta-Luce.
Just recently – for rationalisation and to make savings, and following the destiny of many other public companies - ARCUS was abolished by the Financial Stability Law 208/2016, by incorporating it in ALES/Arte, Lavoro e Servizi: the other "in house" company created by the MiBACT in 1997 as a tool for carrying out more efficiently its manifold investments and services.
Last update: May, 2016
Artists and others employed in the cultural sector, like any other Italian citizen, are just covered by the basic health insurance provided for by the National Health System.
The only exception to this rule, since fascist time, have been the performing artists, as well as those employed in theatres and in the audio-visual industry (radio, television, cinema, sound recording). They actually enjoyed more favourable social security coverage through ENPALS / Ente Nazionale Previdenza e Assistenza Lavoratori dello Spettacolo, created in 1934, which was able to cater for the often intermittent working situation of this special category of employed. More recently, though, a strong boost towards the harmonisation of all the country's social frameworks has somehow weakened this category's once privileged situation. So much so that Law n.214/2011 finally suppressed ENPALS, by merging it – for budget-saving reasons – with INPS (Istituto Nazionale Previdenza Sociale), Italy's general social security organisation. For the time being, though, ex ENPALS continues to be operated – albeit within INPS – with separate specific rules as far as the social security requirements of artists and others employed in the performing arts (and the related statistics) are concerned.
On the other hand, unlike performing artists, visual artists and writers have always enjoyed a purely "virtual" social insurance framework, as ENAPS (Ente Nazionale Artisti, Pittori e Scultori) – the ad hoc public institute – has traditionally been too underfinanced to provide any kind of social protection, and has limited its activity to the organisation of occasional prizes or artistic and literary events.
Last update: May, 2016
Legislation to foster support for the cultural sector from private donorswas introduced in the 1980s, when Law 582/82 allowed the total deduction from taxable income of all donations and sponsorship given by individuals and corporations, as well as of expenditures for the restoration of privately owned built heritage: which led to a "boom" in capital investments in the restoration of palaces, castles, and historical gardens. The amount of such incentives was, however, progressively and significantly reduced by subsequent budget laws, in particular by the Budget Law for 1992, when the tax deductions (more favourable for citizens in the higher tax brackets) were transformed into tax credits, within the limit of 19% of the amount of the donation, equal for all citizens, non-profit organisations and companies.
After nearly twenty years, private donations, if earmarked to a list of cultural institutions drawn up by the Ministry of the Heritage, became again totally tax deductible – albeit only for companies – thanks to Law 342/2000: however, the law establishes a ceiling of 52 million EUR for the potential loss of revenue for the state, which cannot be exceeded. Bureaucratic strings, though, may have affected the law's implementation, which yielded in 2001 much less than expected: only 16 million EUR. The amount of such donations increased in the following years, reaching a peak in 2008, and subsequently decreasing as a result of the economic crisis (see chapter 7.3). The cuts affecting donations by private individuals and non-profit organisations in the same years have been even more drastic.
A further, quite bipartisan step, envisaged by all the recent Ministers since the 2000s, has been aimed at increasing the amount of private contributions for culture by making tax incentives once again more appealing for individuals and non-profit organisations as well. In particular, it is estimated that – by following the US model, where around 75% of private donations are given by individuals – a higher tax relief could significantly increase the support of private individuals to the cultural field. However, an agreement between the Ministry of the Heritage and the Ministry for the Economy – historically opposing such measures – has been for decades out of reach for any kind of political majority.
In this respect, the turning point – strongly supported by Minister Franceschini – finally took place in June 2014, with the adoption of Law 112/2014, ART Bonus. The Decree (closely inspired by the French Loi Aillagon) provides for a tax deduction of as much as 65% for 2014 and 2015, and of 50% for 2016, for donations aimed at the safeguard and support of public monuments, archaeological sites, museums, archives, libraries, theatres and of the lyric foundations. Such a tax credit is available within a ceiling of 15% of the taxable revenue for private individuals and non-profit organisations, whereas, for corporations, the ceiling has been established at 5/000 of annual profits.
This temporary measure, quite successful and well received - so much so that 2 000 donors donated 65 million EUR in 2015 - has been subsequently transformed into a permanent measure by the Financial Stability Law 2016.
It should be added that substantial fiscal incentives – in the form of tax credits and tax shelters – have been in force since 2007 for investments in the cinema industry, and have been recently upgraded by Law 112/2014, and then again by the Financial Stability Law 2016 (see chapter 4.2.6).
Finally, as shown in Table 3, the VAT rate on cultural goods is generally lower than the usual rate, notably for books and newspapers at 4%. The reduced tax rate has been extended also to E-books by the Financial Stability Law for 2015 (Law 190/2014): such measures, though – as has already been the case for France and Luxemburg – are still controversial, as it has been challenged by the European Union, which opposes TVA tax relief for digital products.
Table 3: VAT rate of cultural goods and activities, 2010
|Cultural goods and activities||VAT|
|Museums and exhibitions||10%|
|Recorded music and audiovisual||21%|
Source: elaboration by Associazione per l'Economia della Cultura.
Last update: May, 2016
See chapter 4.1.3.
Last update: May, 2016
There is a long tradition of copyright in Italy. Law 633, issued in 1941, was the first comprehensive, interdisciplinary and quite anticipatory law in Europe, protecting the property rights of writers, playwrights, scriptwriters, musicians, and visual artists. It was even extended to droit de suite, although this part was not enacted. Responsibility for the collection of copyright royalties in all the above mentioned artistic disciplines was entrusted to SIAE (Societa Italiana Autori Editori).
This basic law was followed by several others, specifically designed to comply with European directives. It should be noted, though, that it was not until 2000 – when responsibilities on copyright, previously attached to the Prime Minister's Office, were transferred to MIBACT – that Law 248/2000 acknowledged the dramatic technological changes that occurred in the cultural and communication system as a whole in the last sixty years. The law significantly established much stricter criminal and administrative sanctions against piracy, which has become a remarkable and widespread phenomenon in Italy, as well as a constant source of contention with commercial partners. Subsequently, Decree 72/2004 provided for heavy fines and other administrative sanctions aimed at fighting the illegal distribution of films and audiovisual material protected by copyright on the web.
As far as a tax on "private copying" is concerned, Law 193/1992 introduced a tax on blank audiotapes and videotapes in order to compensate authors and producers for the economic damage they suffered from private copying for exclusively personal use. The amount of this tax has been updated by Ministerial Decrees in 2009, and again in 2014.
The problem of better reconciling the rights to protect artistic and literary creation with the rights to a less restricted utilisation of digital content on the web, penalising access to culture in particular for younger generations, is a controversial matter. Considering the fast pace of technological innovation – as well as the failure of the French Hadobi Law, which has been finally rejected – dealing with such a rapidly evolving matter has become for the Minister for the Heritage a quite complicated issue, calling on – as he recently stated before the Parliament – "social bombing" by consumers…
A further legislative measure in the copyright field has finally been the much delayed adoption, by Leg. Decree 118 of February 2006, of the European Directive 2001/84/Ce, concerning droit de suite for visual artists - that is the right for artists to benefit from the possible increase in the value of their work by getting a percentage of commercial transactions subsequent to the first one. This legislation finally implemented the above mentioned anticipatory legal provisions adopted in the framework of copyright Law 633/1941, which had been hindered also because of problems related to the notorious lack of transparency of the Italian art market. If the implementation of Decree 118 could help to bring more transparency into the field, European legislation would have had – indeed - an additional positive outcome. On the other hand a controversial aspect of the Decree has dealt with its provision for an immediate application of droit de suite also in favour of the heirs of the dead artists, as – unlike other countries - Italian legislators did not take advantage of the transitional period established by the European Directive, in order to allow the living artists to be the main beneficiaries of this long awaited measure.
The law finally came into force in 2008, after the adoption of the implementing regulation by Presidential Decree 275/2007. The related rights, along with all the other copyrights, are collected by SIAE and redistributed to the artists or their heirs.
Another additional measure has been Law 286/2006, providing for the much delayed introduction of "lending rights" in public libraries, by establishing a Fund for public lending rights. Access to the fund has been regulated by Law 25/6/2013, and its implementation has been entrusted again to SIAE.
Last update: May, 2016
Information is currently not available.
Last update: May, 2016
In application of Article 6 of the Constitution – "the Republic protects linguistic minorities with special legislation" – several national and regional laws were issued in the past decades to safeguard the autochthonous minority languages, most notably in the autonomous border regions. In this respect, the most far reaching special legislation actually requiring bilingual qualifications for public servants has been the so-called "pacchetto Alto Adige", adopted in 1971 for the autonomous province of Bolzano, where the majority of the population belongs, in fact, to the German-speaking minority.
Subsequently, a comprehensive law for the safeguarding of the so-called Historic Linguistic Minorities (Law 482/1999) has been adopted, aiming at the protection «of the languages and culture of the Albanians, Catalans, Germans, Greeks, Slovenians and Croatians, as well as of those speaking French, Friulan, Ladin, Occitan and Sardinian». The law established a National Fund for the Safeguard of Linguistic Minorities at the Prime Minister's Office, providing for the teaching of the above mentioned minority languages and cultural traditions, and for their use in official acts at the national, regional and local level. Furthermore, the law requires the public broadcasting service to safeguard historic minority languages via "Public Service Contracts", under the supervision of the Authority for Guarantees in Communication/AGCOM. According to Article 11 of such contracts,RAI is committed to radio and TV broadcasting in German, Latin, French and Slovenian, in the respective reference areas.
On the other hand, notwithstanding some attention to this issue been paid by the most foreseeing regional and local authorities, no legislation and no public action at the national level has been adopted, for the time being, to allow the fast growing communities of "new" minorities not to lose contact with their native languages. An emerging problem, and a quite controversial one, which will have to be faced in the near future (see also chapter 2.6 and chapter 2.7).
Last update: May, 2016
Information is currently not available.
Last update: May, 2016
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".
Last update: May, 2016
A new Heritage and Landscape Codex – aimed at rationalising huge layers of multifaceted legislation regulating the field since the early past century – was adopted by Minister Urbani through the Delegated Decree 42/2004, according to Law 137/2002 (see chapter 4.2.1). It was further modified by Minister Buttiglione (Leg. Decrees 156/2006 and 157/2006) and by Minister Rutelli (Leg. Decrees 62/2008 and 63/2008), so much so that it can be defined as a complex and protracted "bipartisan endeavour".
This monumental Codex, made up of 184 Articles, attempts to be all-embracing. After sanctioning a new, more extended and up-to-date definition of cultural goods, also inclusive of immaterial goods, it regulates in detail all the functions pertaining to the heritage, archives and libraries – protection, valorisation, management, national and international circulation of cultural goods, etc. – as well as to the landscape.
Although a large part of the huge pre-existing legislation dealing with this matter – from the first extensive law regulating the protection of the heritage, Law 1089/1939, up to the recent legislation in support of public-private partnership (see chapter 3.1) – has been incorporated into this new Codex, some quite substantial changes have also been introduced over time. The most controversial ones have been dealing with the alienation of public cultural property and the possibility to entrust private entities – both non-profit and profit – with the management of public museums, monuments and sites. Following a fierce debate, though, these two measures have been considerably softened in the following amendments to the Codex. The possibility to hand over the management of public cultural property to the private for-profit sector was, in fact, explicitly excluded by Leg. Decree 156/2006, whereas new measures to prevent the alienation or improper economic exploitation of public cultural property were adopted by Leg. Decree 63/2008.
Further changes were introduced by Leg. Decrees 62 and 63/2008 (respectively devoted to the heritage and landscape), the former introducing new measures to prevent the improper alienation of public property, whereas the second endowed the Sovrintendenze with stronger powers with regard to landscape planning restrictions and the granting of permits.
However the safeguarding powers formerly granted to the Sovrintendenze have been subsequently somehow downgraded by Ministerial Decree 29 August 2014, the final say in landscape and heritage matters having been entrusted to the newly created, more plethoric, Regional Commissions for Heritage (see also chapter 1.2.3). A further, much more controversial possible downgrading could be brought about by the implementation of Law 124/2015 on the reform of public administration (the so called legge Madia), which provides for all administrative territorial branches – including the Soprintendenze - to be incorporated into the prefectures, thus subordinating heritage safeguarding decisions to the prefects (Ministry of the Interior). Despite the reassurances of "non interference" by Minister Franceschini, the prefects' future role in this respect – in particular as far as planning restrictions are concerned - is actually still unclear…
Last update: May, 2016
Until the 1980s, music was the only performing arts discipline regulated by law in Italy. However, Law 800/1967, besides establishing general principles for the promotion of music, defined new general criteria for the state financial allocations only for the 13 - now 14 - main opera theatres (Enti Lirici, now Fondazioni Liriche): by far the privileged backbone of Italian musical life (see chapter 1.3.3).
The first comprehensive law dealing with the performing arts as a whole – music, dance, theatre and cinema – was actually Law 163/1985, which, by creating the Unified Fund for the Performing Arts (FUS – Fondo Unico per lo Spettacolo), rationalised and substantially increased the amount of financial resources for the performing arts. In exchange for this increase, more transparency was required, both through a yearly detailed report on the allocation of the Fund to be submitted by the Ministry to the Parliament (the latter concerning 2014 (http://www.spettacolodalvivo.beniculturali.it/index.php/osservatorio-dello-spettacolo/relazioni-parlamento-fus/603-relazione-sullutilizzo-del-fondo-unico-per-lo-spettacolo-2014)and through the establishment of an Observatory for the Performing Arts within the Ministry.
The definition of new, general criteria for the allocation of FUS, though, was left from Law 800 to new sector-specific legislation to be adopted for the single artistic disciplines. As such laws never saw light in spite of countless draft laws on music and theatre postponed from one piece of legislation to another during the following decades, criteria for the financial support of all the performing arts organisations besides the "Fondazioni liriche" – that is: the remaining opera houses, orchestras, dramatic theatres, dance companies, etc… – continued to be established by annual ministerial regulations.
It should also be mentioned that, until 2010, theatre, despite the lack of a specific sectorial law has been the only live performing arts discipline endowed with a national arm's length agency, ETI / Ente Teatrale Italiano, established under fascist rule by Law 365/1942. The scope of the agency was extended, in 2005, from the promotion of drama to the promotion of dance and music as well, with a particular focus on experimentation. Its activities have ranged from fostering artistic cooperation and networking with other similar European institutions – e.g. French ONDA, the Netherlands Theatre Institute, etc. – at the international level, to the exploration, at the national level, of innovative uses of theatre art (in underprivileged neighbourhoods, in prisons, etc…) to foster social inclusion (see chapter 1.4.3). The agency was abolished in the wake of austerity measures adopted by the Financial Stability Law 220/2010 (see chapter 2.9), and its staff was transferred to MiBACT's DG for Performing Arts.
Coming back to the criteria for allocating state money to the performing arts, they were based on regulations establishing that funding of such activities should be allocated according to a mix of:
- quantitative criteria (decisions based on the size of audiences, number of productions, number of employees, etc., checked by ministerial staff.); and
- qualitative criteria (discretionary judgments dealing with artistic quality, made by 4 consultative panels of experts appointed by the Minister: the Commissioni Musica, Teatro, Danza, Circhi).
Traditionally mainly based on "historical precedents" - the average of past contributions - rather than on artistic productivity and audience outreach standards, these quite conservative criteria have been under scrutiny for years. It was generally felt that they acted as a barrier to access for new, less established organisations, and thus as a hindrance to a renovation of the Italian scene.
Establishing more rational and meritocratic criteria was all the more necessary due to the heavy financial constraints that the Italian musical and theatrical life has been experiencing, following the cuts to the FUS/Fondo Unico per lo Spettacolo - from 471 to 403 million between 2008 and 2014 (-14.5%) – as well as the more or less harsh reductions in regional and municipal funding.
Starting from 2015, deeply innovative changes in the funding system – no more annual, but transformed into triennial - have been finally brought about, for the first time in decades, by Ministerial Decree 1 July 2014, based on a mandate received by Law 122/2013 Valore cultura.
The declared aims of the new criteria for state support of the four performing arts domains – theatre, music, dance and circus (with the usual exception of the lyric foundations: see chapter 1.3.3) – may be summed up as follows (art. 2 of the Decree):
- excellence and pluralism in supply;
- generation turnover;
- geographical rebalancing;
- better coordination among the levels of government; and
The criteria for evaluating funding applications are based on 30% for artistic quality - to be assessed by the traditional four thematic commissions for music, theatre, dance and circus, but mostly, as much as 70%, for quantitative parameters - like numbers of performances, audience participation, co-productions, inter-disciplinarity, planning capacity, plurality in funding sources, co-funding by local governments, etc...- to be automatically evaluated by means of complicated mathematic algorithms.
In 2015 - the first year of implementation of the law - such predominance of the quantitative versus the qualitative elements in the application's assessment, there were extremely controversial results. It led not only, as foreseen, to the reduction of the plethoric number of FUS financed organisations, but also, in some cases, to the exclusion of valuable organisations and, conversely, to the admission of artistically less valuable although commercially more solid ones. A revision of the funding criteria - with more emphasis on quality, and less on the mathematically assessed characteristics - is being sought unanimously. But no changes are likely within three years, during which several performing arts organisations will have to endure a hard life to survive…
Besides the modification of the funding system, a rationalisation of the present "jungle" of the organisations' typologies taken into account for each of the four disciplinary domains was also envisaged by the Decree. The most notable, and controversial, has been the one dealing with the theatre domain, in particular with the former three categories of the Teatri Stabili (Public, Private and Experimental), which have been downsized to two categories: Teatri nazionali – of national and international relevance, and co-financed by the local government at 100% of the state subsidy – and Teatri di rilevanza culturale/TRIC, co-financed by local governments at 40% of the state subsidy.
Seven Teatri nazionali have been endorsed at the end of 2015: including the most established ones of Milan, Rome, Turin, as well as Naples (the only one located in Southern Italy) and three others in Toscana, Veneto and Emilia Romagna - resulting from the melding of previous smaller organisations, in order to meet the requirements established by the Decree have been added...too many for the scant financial allocation made available, and not all are equally deserving some argue. Admissions and exclusions from the TRIC category have been criticised, as well.
Changes in these quite controversial measures in the not too distant future are in the air, though, given the fact that a Decree of 28 January 2016 on cinema (see chapter 4.2.6) also delegates the government to rationalise legislation on the live performing arts in the long awaited, comprehensive reform which has been named by the law the new Codex for the Performing Arts.
Last update: May, 2016
After the considerable attention towards contemporary arts brought about by the fascist minister Giuseppe Bottai (see chapter 1.1), there has been a long gap in government consideration during the entire second half of the past century.
The only legislative measure directly supporting contemporary creation in the visual arts at the national level was Law 717/1949, a modification of a 1942 Law providing for the allocation of 2% of the costs of capital investment in public buildings to "embellish" the buildings by works of contemporary artists to be chosen by public competition (see chapter 7.2). The law, though subsequently again modified in 1960 and in 1997, was rarely implemented, and the selection criteria have been much questioned. The last of several attempts to reform Law 717 had been tried by Minister Bondi in the frame of his Draft Law on Architectural Quality adopted by the Cabinet in 2008, but it did not go beyond Parliamentary discussion (see chapter 4.2.7). The highlights of this much needed proposed reform was the replacement of the obsolete concept of ex post "embellishment" of buildings by the concept of a full integration of the artistic and architectural aspects since the building's planning procedure. Moreover, the 2% requirement would have been made compulsory, by preventing the building plan to be adopted in its absence.
On the other hand, to make up for the endemic lack of financial resources in support of contemporary arts, Law 29/2001 (art. 3) called for the institution of an annual plan for contemporary art, then endowed with 5 million EUR, aimed at fostering the public asset of contemporary artworks in national museums and galleries. Tested in 2001, the law has since then been quite effective in pursuing its aim (see chapter 7.2.1), albeit with progressively diminished resources: only 1.6 million EUR for 2013, half of which is allocated to the financial support of MAXXI.
Another legacy of the already quoted pre-war attention to the visual arts had been the introduction of droit de suite on further sales of works of art, as a part of the Copyright Law 633/1941 (see chapter 4.1.6). Italian artists, though, had to wait for the initiative of the European Union to see it finally implemented after about three quarters of a century. The law came into force thanks to Leg. Decree 118/2006 –a follow up of the European Directive 84/200 – whereas the related implementing regulation was adopted at the end of 2007 (see chapter 4.1.6).
As far as the governance of state promotion and support of the contemporary visual arts is concerned, an organic overall legislative measure had been adopted in 2001 by Decree 449 on the reorganisation of the Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities, through which an ad hoc DG for Contemporary Arts and Architecture was created, thus separating the related competencies from the DG for Historic and Artistic Goods, where they had been previously confined to a marginal role. This had been considered a much needed turning point for a country which had been "remarkably silent on visual arts policy", also because of "the long shadow cast by heritage", and where "the marketplace apart, the main public contribution to the contemporary visual arts comes from the local authorities" (Council of Europe, 1995). However, an institutional drawback was accomplished in 2009, through Decree 91/2009, providing for a new reorganisation of the Ministry by which responsibility for Contemporary Arts was returned to the DG for Historic and Artistic Goods - transformed into the DG for Landscape, Fine Arts, Architecture and Contemporary Arts (see chapter 1.2.1 and chapter 1.2.2).
More recently, though - the need to boost action in support of contemporary creativity ranked high in the priorities of Minister Franceschini – in the Decree of 29 August 2014 reforming MiBACT's organisational structure, and a DG for Contemporary Art, Architecture and Urban Suburbs came up again. The latter addition is due to the fact that, in the minister's plan, urban suburbs should be regenerated and reshaped through additional resources made available for special investments in contemporary art and architectural projects (see also chapter 4.2.7).
It should be noted that Decree 91/2009 hadalsoprovided for the transformation of the Museum of Architecture and Contemporary Art into the new Foundation MAXXI Museum for Architecture and the Arts of the XXI Century, successfully inaugurated in spring 2010 (see also chapter 7.2). The museum is not meant only as an exhibition space, but also as a centre for promoting research and innovation in the domain of the visual arts.
Last update: May, 2016
After a parliamentary procedure of four years, in July 2011 Italy joined the many European countries which have adopted laws on fixed book pricing. Law 128/2011, explicitly inspired by the French 1981 law, establishes at 15% – with some well-defined exceptions – the maximum level of discount allowed for the price of books. The ratio of the law is, as usual, the support of pluralism and diversity: for the authors, for the publishers, and for book commerce. It mainly benefits the small publishing houses and book sellers and distributors, which cannot afford a competition based on huge discounts.
The subsequent step of extending the fixed book price also to the commerce of digital books, though – as it already happens in the U.S. and, of late, also in France – has not yet been envisaged.
Apart from regulations under the copyright laws, there is no national legislation envisaging substantial financial support for writers and book publishers in Italy, with the only exception of a few book awards and limited indirect support to journals of "high cultural interest". By far the main – quite substantial – state financial support for most book publishing and distribution is indirect support, through a regulation establishing a reduced VAT rate of 4%: also adopted for the press.
In a country with exceptionally low reading rates (see chapter 6.2), the creation, in 2006, of a Centre for Books and Reading at the Ministry for Heritage, endowed with a significant level of autonomy, has been generally welcomed. The mission assigned to the Centre is the promotion of book publishing – through educational campaigns and through prizes and events, both in Italy and abroad – and a better awareness of the role of reading for the building of citizenship. Given the scant and further declining Italian reading indexes (see Table 10, chapter 6.2) this mission, though, is still far to have been accomplished…
As for libraries, legislative and regulatory functions related to local public and private libraries were transferred to the regions in 1972, and most of the twenty regions have since adopted ad hoc legislation. MiBACT, though, is still directly in charge of 46 state libraries, including the two national libraries of Rome and Florence. From the legislative point of view, those libraries are included in the cultural goods dealt with by the Codex.
Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that the recent Decree of 28 January 2016, by changing the state Sovrintendenze for Archives to the Sovrintendenze for Archives and Books – will also retransfer from the regions to the state responsibilities for the safeguarding of all Italian libraries.
Last update: May, 2016
Film, video and photography
Law 163/1965 was the first comprehensive law adopted in the cultural field in post war Italy. Although this law provided for all phases of the value chain – including distribution, diffusion and promotion – to be more or less subsidised by the state, the lion's share of government funding has always been absorbed by production. State contributions were allocated – ex ante, in the form of loans and grants, and / or ex post, either in the form of prizes, or automatically, through percentage contributions on box office receipts.
While this law effectively supported the Italian film industry during the first decade of its implementation, the invasion of films on private TV networks, following the end of the state monopoly on television in 1976, has been the determinant for a major drop in film consumption, and thus, subsequently, in film production, which reached its qualitative and quantitative low around the mid-1990s (see chapter 3.5.1). In order to foster quality production, Law 153/1994 introduced a special category for films classified "of national interest", which could attract public funding of up to 80% of the total costs, whereas further legislation adopted at the end of the 1990s, and in particular Law 122/1996 (see chapter 3.5.1), gave a significant boost to the production of Italian films. However, as many of these films were poor in terms of both critical reviews and audiences, a substantial agreement was reached between subsequent governments and professional circles to amend a legislation which had turned out to be too much in favour of a low risk assumption by the film producers.
This was one of the problems to be dealt with by Legislative Decree 28/2004, a comprehensive law aiming at streamlining and rationalising Law 163/1965 and all the following legislation on cinema activities, as well as at introducing substantial innovations, in particular the following:
- the adoption of a more selective reference system, based on qualitative as well as on economic criteria, for film producers eligible for state support;
- a higher ratio of financial participation of producers to the production costs of films classified of "national interest", by lowering the ratio of state support from 80% to 50%; and
- the enhancement of the role of the state owned company Cinecittà Holding, from production, distribution and promotion of national films in Italy and abroad, to additional strategic functions in the monitoring and evaluation of the whole system.
Although acknowledged as a step forward towards sectoral rationalisation, the law (followed by nine implementing regulations) has also been criticised, as it was felt that such a rigid reference system could act as a barrier to access for interesting but less well-known and established film producers.
The law's immediate unwanted side effect was actually the paralysis of financial allocations to cinema activities until the end of 2005, as a result of the endemic state / regional conflict. In fact, the Tuscany and Emilia Romagna regions appealed to the Constitutional Court against the Decree, for not taking into account the new concurrent competencies in the promotion and financing of cultural activities, entrusted by Constitutional Law 3-2001 both to the state and the Regions. In its Decision of 19/7/2005 the Constitutional Court endorsed the Regions' claim, thus invalidating all the allocations of funds to the film industry, decided upon autonomously by the Ministry. A new Leg. Decree 164/2005 subsequently provided for joint approval - both by the Ministry and by the State-Regions Conference- of every decision concerning the regulating and funding of film production and distribution.
Three draft laws amending Leg. Decree 28/2004 had been presented to the Parliament in the past legislation, all of them more or less based on the following key points: 1) an increase in financial support to the cinema industry, to be obtained also by extending existing measures adopted for national TV networks by Law 122/1996 to Pay TV (Sky Italia) and the new media as well (see chapter 3.5.1); 2) the introduction of new fiscal incentives in the form of a tax credit and tax shelter, the latter also in favour of companies outside the cinema and audiovisual sector, but investing in the production and distribution of Italian films.
In order to speed up their much awaited adoption, the fiscal incentives giving relief to the cinema industry were subsequently anticipated in Law 244/2007, and finally endorsed by Law 133/2008. The related implementing regulations – whose applicability was however limited to the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 – came into force through two Decrees (for tax shelters and for tax credits, respectively), adopted in May 2009.
The positive effects induced in recent years in the Italian film industry by the implementation of the above mentioned tax relief measures (see also chapter 3.5.1) – along with the pressure exercised by the film industry, with the support of the Minister for Heritage – finally persuaded the reluctant Minister for the Economy to extend these fiscal incentives to the end of 2013. As established by Leg. Decree 34/2011, the related costs – along with the increase in MIBACT's budget – have benefited from an increase in oil taxes. Again threatened with abolition, the tax credit measure – strenuously supported by the film milieu – was finally confirmed and made permanent by Leg. Decree n. 91/2013.Furthermore, Law 106/2014 increased from 5 to 10 million EUR the maximum amount of tax credit for foreign investments in Italian film production, and introduced a temporary tax credit for the restructuring and technical refurbishment of cinema hallsfor the years 2015 and 2016. Finally, the Financial Stability Law for 2016 has established the related budgetary allocation at 115 million EUR for 2015 and 140 million for 2016.
Furthermore a new draft law for cinema has been adopted by the Council of Ministries on 28 January 2015. When finally endorsed, the law will increase by 60% the ad hoc state financial allocations, by creating a Fund for the development of the cinema and audiovisual industries yearly endowed with 400 million EUR. The Fund will be financed by the state through tax income drawn from the television and audio-visual companies, and no more – as was the case for Law 122/1996, and was envisaged by previous draft laws – by the audio-visual companies themselves through given percentages drawn on their income. Funding criteria will be changed and made more automatic, by abolishing the existing prizes for films of national interest. Special incentives for young authors and for the preservation and development of new cinema halls have also been envisaged.
Such prospects of a long expected increase in the financial resources allocated to the cinema industry have been obviously very well received by film professionals: some, though, are arguing that "automatic criteria" may mean more "market oriented criteria"….
Finally, as far as our traditional state-owned film companies' system is concerned (see chapter 1.1), whereas in 2009 Cinecittà Holding (entrusted with film promotion in Italy and abroad) was merged with Istituto Luce (film diffusion and production) into the new company Cinecittà Luce, Law n. 111/2011 changed once again its name into Istituto Luce Cinecittà:a new, much slimmer company, with a shrinking budget and personnel (half of the staff having been actually transferred to MIBACT's DG for Cinema).
This section will deal simultaneously with radio / television and the press: legislation on these two media is, in fact, strictly interconnected in our country, as they are regulated, since the 1990s, under a unified system made up of "umbrella laws".
When a Constitutional Court Decision, taken in 1976, abolished the Italian state monopoly on local radio and TV broadcasting, a protracted legislative gap – allowing the proliferation of private local stations which subsequently became national networks – resulted in the creation of a duopoly by RAI (the public company) and Mediaset (the private company owned by the media tycoon and present Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.. Television thrived in this uniquely unregulated system, thus exercising fierce competition towards the other media: the cinema and the press industry, the latter already endemically affected by low reading rates (see chapter 1.3.2).
At the end of the 1970s, the press in Italy – confronted with falling income from the sale of newspapers and periodicals, as well as with a decline in advertising (see chapter 3.5.1) – represented a classic case of "market failure", not being able to survive without direct and indirect public financing. Ad hoc legislation started with Law 416/1981 on the discipline and financial subsidies for the publishing industry of dailies and periodicals, by introducing – besides the first antitrust measures in the press system –a whole range of financial support measures for this troubled industry: tax incentives for capital investments, loans, grants, and postal tariff facilities. The criteria for support were subsequently modified by Law 250/1990 on subsidies to the publishing industry of dailies and periodicals, by further increasing the amount of the state financial grants. Subsequently various budget laws have modified the grants, by significantly raising them up to around 500 million EUR in 2007: so much so that, for several years, the Italian press industry has probably been among those most heavily subsidised in Europe. However, since the end of that decade, such grants have been substantially reduced (see chapter 3.5.1).
It should be mentioned that, the 2007 report Daily, Periodical and Multimedia Publishing, issued by the Antitrust Authority, had actually been very critical of the support system to the press in Italy, deemed also by the Court of Accounts as characterised by "a stratification of heterogeneous direct and indirect measures… where it is not easy to single out an organic and well planned underlying strategy aimed at the protection of pluralism".
A reform of the existing system has actually been envisaged by DL. n. 63/2011 – the so-called Decreto Salva Italia, adopted by the Monti Government with a view to rebalancing Italy's financial situation. According to Article 29, the Decree provided for the current system of direct state subsidies to newspapers and periodicals to be replaced, in the near future, by subsidies to the publishing industry aimed at fostering technological innovation as well as the informatisation of the distribution system. Meanwhile, D.L. n. 103/2012 established more stringent prerequisites for having access to state contributions. Furthermore, to encourage the digitalisation of the press, it provided access to increased state contributions for newspapers and periodicals transferring their publication from paper to on-line format.
Consequently, while ordinary contributions to the press underwent a further, strong reduction (see chapter 3.5.1), a new law – Law 147/2013 –established an "extraordinary fund for the support of the publishing industries". However this fund – endowed by the law with 50 million EUR for 2014, 40 million for 2015 and 30 million for 2016 – is not only aimed at encouraging technological and digital innovation, but also at providing a social security "cushion" to allow slumping publishing houses to anticipate retirement measures concerning journalists considered to be redundant.
Such rationalising measures highlight the extent of the financial crisis affecting the press and threatening not only employment, but pluralism in the information system as well, in a country with a scant readers' index (see chapter 6.2), and where a large number of Italian families still have poor access to the Internet (see chapter 2.4).
To cope with such a chronic and protracted crisis in the publishing industry - more and more heavily affected by the decline in advertising revenues and in earned income from sales (see chapter 2.5.3) - the Renzi government has addressed this issue, as well. In February 2016 a draft law on the creation, at the Ministry of the Economy, of a Fund for the pluralism and innovation of information – endowed with 100 million EUR for each year between 2016 and 2018 - has been adopted by the Parliament, and is now pending at the Senate. It delegates the government to establish the criteria for allocating the fund's financial resources both to the publishing industry and to local television stations, according to guidelines aimed at encouraging innovation and further digitalisation, restructuring the distribution system, safeguarding minorities (including the linguistic ones) and – last but not least – providing social security measures for the declining employment in the field.
As far as the television industry in Italy is concerned, unlike in other countries, it remained totally unregulated throughout the 1980s, until Law 223/1990 was finally adopted, to regulate the duopolistic public/private radio-television system. Besides dealing with the planning of radio frequencies, the distribution of licences between RAI, private networks and local broadcasters, advertising, etc., the law extended its scope to the communication system as a whole, including the press, notably by introducing comprehensive antitrust measures for the media industry, thus modifying regulations provided for the press by Law 416/1981. In particular, in order to prevent the abuse of dominant positions, publishers in control of more than 8% or 16% of circulating newspapers were not allowed to own, respectively, more than one or two TV licences.
A subsequent Law (249/1997) provided for the creation of AGCOM - a Supervisory Authority for Guarantees in Communications, a public autonomous agency - presently linked with the Undersecretary for Communications at the Ministry for Economic Development - with supervising powers for the press, TV, radio and telecommunications. The law also outlined additional antitrust measures stating, in particular, that no entity operating in the radio-television and in the publishing industries should control more than 20% of the total financial resources flowing to the field (advertising, licence fees, etc..).
This frequently disregarded antitrust legislation was significantly loosened by Law 112/2004, the so called "Gasparri Law" (named after the Centre-Right Minister for Communication) regulating the media sector. In fact, this controversial law further endorsed duopoly in the television system (see chapter 2.5.3), while modifying the rules of the game as far as antitrust measures are concerned, thus allowing uncontrolled expansion both for RAI and Mediaset, and reducing even more space for other media operators. Notwithstanding the will expressed by the centre-left government (2006-2008) to amend the Gasparri Law, and to contain the patent conflict of interests, the situation has even worsened throughout the years of the subsequent Berlusconi government (2008-2011).
Antitrust legislation and the conflict of interest do not seem to be a priority anymore for the centre-left government after the dismissal of Berlusconi, so much so that the issue has not been dealt with by Law 229/2015 on the reform of RAI - amending the Gasparri law - adopted in December 2016 by the Renzi government, and has been postponed to a further law. According to the RAI reform law - focused on the reorganisation of the company's governance – its board of 7 members are elected by the Parliament, by the Minister of the Economy and by the employees of the company. The board's powers, though, will be diminished, as most of them are entrusted to a very powerful CEO, appointed by the Minister of the Economy. On the other hand, as far as the most important issue of redefining RAI's mission and the notion of public service are concerned, the law provides for a consultation to take place in 2016, also in view of the expiration, in the same year, of RAI's "Contract of Public Service" with the state. It should be mentioned that this law has not been well received by the many critics of the excesses of the Italian public television company's politicisation, who believe that RAI will be under more government control.
Last update: May, 2016
An initiative aimed at promoting modern architecture had been undertaken in 2008, by submitting to the Parliament a draft law on "architectural quality", much inspired by the homonymous draft law of 2004: the systematic promotion of architectural competitions and the elaboration of a Triennial plan for architectural quality were among its main goals.
Presently, as far as architectural reshaping of urban contexts is concerned, the main focus has been placed on the need to regenerate and upgrade run-down urban suburbs, and to better reconnect them with city centres. "Archistar" Renzo Piano already offered support in planning and capacity building for such an endeavour, which ranks also high in the priorities of Minister Franceschini: 3 million EUR have been allocated by Law 106/2014 for investments in cultural projects for the rejuvenation of urban suburbs (see chapter 4.2.4).
Even more, 500 million EUR have been allocated by the Financial stability law for 2016 for urban regeneration of suburbs of the metropolitan cities and the main municipalities, as well as for the restructuring of educational and cultural services aimed at boosting social inclusion.