7. Financing and support
Last update: May, 2016
Compared with the strong boost to overall public cultural expenditure in the past two decades – it doubled in the 1990s, after having more than doubled in the 1980s in nominal terms: see Rapporti sull' Economia della Cultura, op.cit. (even if data from different sources are not exactly comparable) – there has been a very substantial downturn in cultural funding in the 2000s.
According to Istat / COFOG data, the total amount of public cultural expenditure in 2014 (final expenditure, by all levels of government and all ministries and administrative units involved) – amounted to 5 464 million EUR. Compared with the 6 099 million spent in 2001, cuts in public cultural expenditure have reached 11.5% in nominal terms in the last fourteen years: which means that the decrease has actually been much more dramatic taking inflation into account.
Consequently, between 2001 and 2014 all the other indicators went down: expenditure per capita for the 60.6 million Italian inhabitants decreased from 99 to 90 EUR, the ratio on GDP from 0.46 to 0.35 % and, even more, the ratio on public expenditure - an indicator of the government's willingness to pay for culture, was hit by 1/3: from 0.99 to 0.66.
Last update: May, 2016
For the time being, it is not possible to comply with the classification of public cultural expenditure in Italy broken down by level of government according to the Compendium requirements.
Such a classification will be possible in the future only by means of special surveys. In fact, Istat's National Accounts breakdown is presently available only as far as state and local expenditure are concerned (where local includes regional, provincial and municipal expenditure), without any further distinction among levels of government. Such distinctions are quite problematic, for the total lack of official data on regional cultural expenditure, as regional budgets are not easily comparable, not having been standardised yet. On the other hand, overall, aggregated data on cultural expenditure both by the provinces and the municipalities are made available by Istat provincial and municipal accounts (see chapter 1.2.2).
For the time being, the following are the only comprehensive official data on overall public cultural expenditure allowing reliable and homogenous analysis of trends throughout the 2000s. It is worth noting that public cultural expenditure in Italy has traditionally been highly centralised, although the state share had gradually declined to around 40% of the total at the turn of the century.
Table 4: Public cultural expenditure by level of government, in million EUR, 2001 and 2014
|Level of government||million EUR||% of total||million EUR||% of total||% var. 2001-2014|
|State*||2 476||40.6||1 903||34.8||-23.2|
|Local**||3 623||59.4||3 561||65.2||-1.8|
|Total||6 099||100.0||5 464||100.0||-10.5|
Elaborations by Associazione per l'Economia della Cultura on ISTAT / COFOG data.
For the level of government data, consolidation is made within each level but not between levels.Therefore, the total public cultural expenditure is not consolidated.The data presented here are taken from the European System of Accounts 1995 - ESA95 Questionnaire 1100_S13 - Expenditure of General Government. The COFOG groups considered are: 08.20 Cultural services (IS), 08.30 Broadcasting and publishing services (CS), and the residual group 08.50 R&D Recreation, culture, and religion (CS).
* State expenditure mainly includes the Ministry for Heritage and the Prime Minister's Office.
** Local expenditure includes Regional, Provincial and Municipal expenditure.
Table 4 shows that the decentralisation process went even further in the 2000s, as in 2014 around 2/3 of the public financing of culture was provided by local authorities, that is by the regions, provinces and municipalities. In fact, the decline has been much sharper in state expenditure (-23%), mostly allocated by the Ministry of Heritage for cultural services, followed at much distance by the Department of Information of the Prime Minister's Office and by the Ministry for Economic Development for audiovisual and publishing services, whose contribution declined at a much higher rate, mainly related to the collapse of subsidies to the press (see chapter 3.5.1). Such decreases in state expenditure have been counterbalanced and mitigated by more stability in local expenditure: the latter decreasing only by -1.8 %, while the decline of total public cultural expenditure has actually been limited at around 10%.
This diversified trend between local and state expenditure is also evident in Figure 4, showing the respective yearly ups and downs throughout the 2000s.
Figure 4: Trends in public cultural expenditure by level of government 2001-2014 (million EUR)
Source: Elaborations by Associazione per l'Economia della Cultura on ISTAT/COFOG data.
After a quite dynamic trend for cultural expenditure under the centre-left rule in the late 1990s, Figure 4 shows a sudden slow-down in the state cultural financing at the beginning of the subsequent decade (when Berlusconi and the centre-right went back to power), followed alternatively by a decrease, stagnation and a moderate increase until 2008. At the same time local expenditure was slowly increasing. The highest peak for cultural expenditure was reached for both the state and the local level in 2008, with overall public cultural expenditure at 8 052 million EUR. Its drop between 2009 and 2014 to 6 464 million - clearly a consequence of the economic and financial downturn - has been quite harsh… In this time-span the trend of local cultural expenditure, badly affected by cuts in state transfers, has also been slowing down (-21%), although much less, indeed, than the nearly halved state cultural expenditure (-47%), thus acting, in some way, as a moderating factor.
Last update: May, 2016
As already noted, Istat's National Accounts data on public cultural expenditure are broken down (according to COFOG's two digits classification) mainly between two functions: cultural services and audiovisual and publishing services. A slightly more detailed (although insufficient according to the Eurostat classification) breakdown by domain for state cultural expenditure is made available only by MIBACT, the ministry responsible for the bulk of such expenditure. Table 5 shows the amount and trend of MIBACT's final expenditure in the 2000s broken down by administrative units according to the Ministry's budgetary classification. These units have been regrouped in five domains: Heritage, Libraries and Archives, Performing Arts, Cinema, Administration and Interdisciplinary.
The quite significant decline in the expenditure of the ministry mainly responsible for culture since the turn of the century is clearly highlighted in the table, which shows that such decline was not only, like in other countries, the negative fall out of the economic downturn, but that it went back much earlier, as the result of a long-lasting governmental negative attitude to the financial support for culture and the arts.
Table 5: Expenditure of the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities by domain, 2001, 2013 and 2014 (final expenditure, million EUR)
% var. |
|Libraries and Archives||435||274||286||-34||+4|
|Administration and Interdisciplinary||313||309||322||+3||+4|
|Total*||2 345||1 609||1 656||-29||+3|
Source: Elaborations by Associazione per l'Economia della Cultura on MIBACT's final accounts.
Since 2001, the overall decline in the Ministry's expenditure has been very sharp, indeed (-29%, inflation not being taken into account) and unevenly distributed among the different domains. Heritage has been the most dramatically affected (-40%, although part of the R&D expenditure for heritage is supposedly included in the Interdisciplinary domain). Archives and libraries rank second in the loss of state funds (-34%), followed by the Performing arts (-26%) and Cinema (-18%). On the other hand Administration and interdisciplinary did better, with a slight increase in the considered time span (+3%).
It seems, though, that the bottom of the utmost decline in MiBACT's budget has been reached: if the year 2014 has witnessed only a small budget increase with respect to the previous year, a more substantial reversal of the negative trend in our country's national government's expenditure for culture is presently in view. Notwithstanding the persistent downward trend in Italy's state expenditure, in fact, MiBACT's allocation in the 2016 provisional budget - 2 028 billion EUR – has again overcome – for the first time in years – the threshold of 2 000 billion. A first, if small, turnabout….
Last update: May, 2016
Performing artists in Italy mostly receive indirect government support. They make their living mainly through their work for performing arts organisations, most of which are more or less subsidised from the public purse. They also enjoy a favourable social security system (see chapter 4.1.3). Unlike in France and in other countries, though, there are no measures in favour of unemployed performing artists: which is a problematic situation in times of financial downturn.
On the other hand (see chapter 1.1 and chapter 4.2.4), the situation of Italian visual artists is much less favourable. Since the post war time they do not enjoy any substantial direct or indirect government support, and they actually make their living either in the marketplace (if they manage to reach fame) or, more frequently, through second jobs (mainly teaching at schools or arts academies).
The main legal provision in their favour – inherited from fascist times (see chapter 1.1) - is Law 717/1949 on "2% for the arts", establishing that 2% of the investment costs of any public building (with the exception of schools) should be allocated to the commissioning of a work of art by a living artist. Due to the questionable criteria adopted in the choice of eligible artists, the law largely remained ineffective. In recent times, however, it seems that it has been more frequently implemented, notably in the case of subways, jails and army barracks: however, exhaustive information is not available. A long overdue reform of Law 717 – foreseen in the framework of the Draft Law for Architectural Quality (see chapter 4.2.4 and chapter 4.2.7) – is still waiting to be carried out.
Another measure in support of contemporary artistic creativity is the already mentioned art. 3 of Law n. 29/2001 (see chapter 4.2.4), providing for the drafting of Plans for Contemporary Art aimed at increasing the national asset of contemporary works of art by living artists less than 50 years old, including photography, industrial design and architectural plans.The law is implemented by means of triennial plans drafted by the MiBACT in agreement with its main beneficiaries: the national museums and galleries of modern and contemporary art. However, its endowment for 2013 was only 1.6 million EUR, which was declared "shameful" by Minister Bray.
In addition, compared with the other European countries, and in particular Northern European countries, Italian post-war legislation in general has not been very supportive of visual artists, who neither enjoy ad hoc social security measures or fiscal incentives, nor have regular access to travel grants, low rental rates for working spaces, etc. As far as the latter are concerned, though, an ad hoc measure in favour of young artists has been adopted for the first time in the framework of Leg. Decree n. 91/2013. According to the Decree (art. 6), in order "to foster the availability of areas for the creation and production of contemporary arts", the Minister of the Cultural Heritage should single out every year a list of unused real estate properties belonging to the state administration to be hired at low rental prices as working spaces to cooperatives or associations of artists aged between 18 and 35.
Until recently, government support for the promotion of contemporary creation in the visual arts has been mostly indirectly provided for through the three main national exhibiting institutions for contemporary visual arts: the Biennale di Venezia, the Triennale di Milano and the Quadriennale di Roma, all of which recently underwent, by law, substantial reorganisation measures.
Increased indirect support to visual artists and architects, as well as to the promotion of contemporary art, though, is presently also at the core of the activities of the new Museum of the Arts of the XXI century/MAXXI (see also chapter 4.2.4). Successfully inaugurated in spring 2010,MAXXI – located in a bold, spectacular building created by archistar Zaha Hadid on the grounds of an old army barracks - has actually been conceived not only as a museum with a permanent collection and exhibition spaces, but also as a laboratory considered to be of strategic importance for research and experimentation in interdisciplinary artistic creativity. While the state allows public-private partnership, until recently the museum had only been supported by the state. Finally, in 2015, MAXXI was able to attract private financial support, with ENEL/Ente Nazionale Energia Elettrica becoming its "founding partner", allocating 1.8 million EUR over three years to the museum, plus other benefits and "in kind" support through delivering electricity for its special lighting.
An unconventional "third sector" actor – GAI / Associazione per il Circuito dei Giovani Artisti Italiani – should be singled out, as well, for its innovative and longstanding training, promotional and research activities in support of "youth creativity". From the legal point of view, GAI - started in 1989 -is an association representing 39 local administrations (regional and municipal authorities) and private partners.Since 2001 it has also created a portal – http://www.giovaniartisti.it – providing information and resources in the field of the visual and the performing arts, as well as a database of young creators. GAI is also the Italian coordinator for the Pépinières Européennes pour Jeunes Artistes.
As far as youth creativity is concerned, it should also be noted that the municipality of Milan hosted the XVII Mediterranean Young Artists Biennale in October 2015, which saw the participation of more than 300 visual arts, performing arts and media artists from the Mediterranean countries of the Northern and Southern shores.
Finally, banking foundations are increasingly supporting youth creativity in the arts sector, by launching new call for proposals such as "Promoting Youth Creativity" (Fondazione Cariplo) and "Creative Generation" (Compagnia di San Paolo). The call "UNDER35" (Fund for Youth Cultural Enterprise) in particular should be singled out, being the result of a cooperation between 10 banking Foundations from North and Central Italy.
Last update: May, 2016
It is worth noting that GAI, the association of young Italian artists mentioned in the previous chapter, is a partner, along with MIBACT, of the project DEMO-Moving up, actively promoting the creation of an annual fund in support of the international mobility of Italian artists. The fund – unique for Italy – amounted to 389 000 EUR for 2013-2014, of which 2/3 was provided by MiBACT (DG Contemporary Arts, Architecture and Urban Suburbs, and DG Performing Arts). It was started in 1999, and since its creation it has provided support to 697 projects and to 1 200 visual and performing artists aged between 18 and 35 years. Furthermore, scholarships have been awarded for artists in residence in Berlin, Paris, Istanbul and New York.
Last update: May, 2016
There are no specific funds, grants, scholarships for artists of relevance in Italy at the state level. Support of this kind may be provided in some cases by Regions and municipalities, but information is currently not available.
Last update: May, 2016
Although there are several artists associations and unions in Italy, they do not receive any government support.
Last update: May, 2016
By far the most relevant source of private financing for culture in Italy – according to the broader definition of culture adopted by the Compendium – is the marketplace: that is, household expenditure for the purchase of cultural goods and services (obviously not including the purchase of hardware – TV appliances, hi-fi, etc. – which does not represent a direct source for cultural funding). Reliable comprehensive data on household expenditure, not including the purchase of hardware, though are not regularly available in Italy.
Advertising ranks as the second source, although limited to the financial support of the media (radio TV, the press, cinema…). Advertising income has also been badly affected by the economic and financial crisis, as its earnings went down from 9.8 billion in 2010 to 7.4 billion EUR in 2014: a decrease of around -15% (AGCOM data).
Private giving in the form of donations and sponsorship only ranks in third place, and is by far the more limited source of cultural financing.
Funding from lotteries will not be considered in this chapter to avoid double counting, the financial resources flowing from the Lotto to the cultural sector being fully incorporated in MiBACT's budget. For more information about the financial amount stemming from lotteries for culture, utterly diminished in recent years, see chapter 4.1.2.
The analysis in this chapter will thus be limited, as far as possible in the light of the available data, to private giving.
Partial, official data on private giving to the cultural sector is regularly available only for banking foundations, corporate donors and individual donors. They are shown here (Table 6) in relation to their trends (2008-2014) in order to highlight how badly the impact of the financial crisis has affected private funding for culture and the arts as well.
It is necessary to bear in mind, though, that while the data available for banking foundations (stemming from ACRI / Associazione Casse di Risparmio Italiane) are exhaustive, those related to corporate and individual donations, (stemming from MiBACT) are substantially under-evaluated, while only dealing with donations formally endorsed by the Ministry for tax relief purposes. Due to lack of information, in fact, they do not include donations by all the many other grant-making foundations to the cultural sector (corporate foundations, family foundations etc., often supporting culture) not mediated by the ministry, as well as the quite substantial – if probably declining – amount of corporate sponsorship, often included in advertising budgets.
Table 6: Selected private giving in support of the cultural sector, in million EUR, 2008 and 2013
|Source||2008||2013||% Var. 2008-2013|
|Donations by companies||32||31||_|
|Donations by individuals||29||6||-79|
Source: Elaborations on Istat, Statistiche culturali 2014.
In comparison with 2008 – when total private giving reached the highest peak of 574 million EUR – Table 6 shows how substantial the negative effects of the economic downturn have been, as private giving nearly halved in a five year time lapse: -47% by 2013. Whereas donations by companies have remained quite stagnant, financial constraints have caused a dramatic collapse of individual donations (-79%). Donations by banking foundations have about halved, as well: -48% between 2008 and 2012, with a strong acceleration in the most recent years. This is bad news for the cultural sector, as banking foundations represent, by far, the core of private giving to culture and the arts in Italy, as the following paragraphs explain in more detail.
In Italy there has always been a tradition of supporting the arts and culture by the local savings banks, which have been privatised through subsequent laws since the 1990s. The first step towards reform (Law 218/1990) was to separate the non-profit mission of grant-giving from core banking activities. A subsequent step (Law 451/1998) was to create independent private foundations endowed with the sale of banking assets, devoted exclusively to the public sector goals precisely indicated by the law itself: scientific research, arts and heritage, health and welfare.
Throughout the years, these 88 newly endowed foundations substantially increased their grant-making to "arts and cultural goods and activities": from 183 million EUR in 2000 to 513 million in 2008. However, due to the protracted economic downturn and to the consequent, strong decline in the foundation's financial assets, support to the arts and culture has been substantially slowing down, to reach only 269 million EUR in 2014. Nevertheless, this represents the biggest sectoral share (34%) of the banking foundations' total giving, notwithstanding their high exposure to the competitive pressure exercised by health and welfare organisations, in times of social emergency and unrest.
The XX Rapporto Fondazioni Bancarie, anno 2014 (https://www.acri.it/Article/PublicArticle/337/2980/ventesimo-rapporto-sulle-fondazioni-di-origine-bancaria---anno-2014) actually confirms the unchanging attention towards the domain "arts and cultural goods and activities" as "a key factor for innovation and development". A change of strategies and a switch in priorities in recent years is also stated by the same report, with less attention for "safeguarding heritage" and an increased effort to support artistic activities and creativity in the territories, particularly with a view to fostering the strongly faltering youth employment. One of the latest flagship projects, started in 2010 by 10 foundations, has been "Funder 35", aimed at fostering competition among young people for the creation of "non-profit cultural enterprises". Several other foundations have since joined this successful project, which has been protracted beyond 2014.
Although the prevailing approach of the banking foundations has so far been one of grant-giving, they are showing a growing interest in developing their own long-term strategies and programmes, as well as in enhancing their role as catalysts in the cultural sector (see Leg. Decree 368/98 in chapter 3.1). As a follow up to these strategies, several partnership agreements are being signed between the Ministry for Heritage, some regional authorities and the banking foundations, aiming at rationalising their cooperation in support of cultural development at the regional level.
For the banking foundation system to become a more and more efficient cultural policy partner for the state, a key issue to address is the strong territorial divide between the North-Centre and the South of Italy. In fact, only 13% of the total number of such foundations operates in the South and the islands: the risk of their relevant role in the financing of culture in our country is thus to foster further geographical imbalances in cultural supply and demand. In order to fill this huge gap, banking foundations, in agreement with voluntary organisations, created in 2006 a Foundation for the South, initially endowing it with 300 million EUR.
Official and reliable data about corporate sponsorship do not exist, in Italy. According to the only available data published by IPSOS, though, no wonder if the trend in the amount of sponsorship for culture and the performing arts seems to be, once again, downward in the recent difficult years: falling, in fact, from 269 to 159 million EUR between 2008 and 2013 (-41%). There have been, though, some notable exceptions, especially in the fancy "made in Italy" fashion world: among which the Rome Fontana di Trevi sponsored by the Fendi sisters, and, even more, the mega-sponsorship of Diego Della Valle (the corporate owner of Tod's fashion shoes), who in 2011 agreed to contribute as much as 25 million EUR for the restoration of the Coliseum in Rome, which is presently underway: the highest amount ever allocated for cultural sponsorship in Italy.
Finally, activities autonomously carried out more and more frequently by the private sector in support of culture and the arts within the framework of corporate social responsibility should also be mentioned, even if the related financial burden is not easily quantifiable. In this respect, it should be noted that the main actor is, once again, a bank. In fact, the most relevant example is the Progetto cultura, directlyrun by one of the main Italianbanking groups, Intesa Sanpaolo, with the aim of contributing "not only to economic growth, but also to cultural and civic growth". Its foremost action – carried out under the brand Gallerie d'Italia – has been the reorganisation and exhibition of the previously inaccessible art collections owned by several banks merged in the group (Banca Commerciale, Cariplo, etc.) for the free enjoyment of the public at large, including educational activities. Three galleries, housed in important historic buildings belonging to the group, have been inaugurated in Milan (among which the Cantieri del '900, opened in 2012 in Piazza Scala), in Naples and in Vicenza; others will follow. Another goal of Progetto Cultura – contributing to the protection of Italian cultural heritage – is carried out under the brand Restituzioni,where more than 1 000 artworks have already been restored, in close cooperation with MIBACT's "soprintendenze".
The most relevant latest example of corporate social responsibility can be found, once more, in the high fashion world: the Prada Foundation, financed by the famous Prada fashion house. The Prada Foundation is not a single building, but rather an entire huge villagedevoted to the arts, which opened in May 2015 in Milan, thus rejuvenating part of its former industrial outskirts. In the bright courtyard of an old, abandoned liquor distillery refurbished by Rem Koolhaus, the archistar has already built two magnificent buildings - an exhibition hall and a cinema hall - and is about to build a third building: a ten floor tower for art exhibitions and events.