Culture decree aims to breathe new life into Italian arts

Measures worth 180 million euros in credits and funding

Culture decree aims to breathe new life into Italian arts

(See related story) Rome, August 2 - A decree approved in Italy's cabinet on Friday to boost the country's cultural sector includes measures worth more than 180 million euros in tax credits and new funding across a range of activities from encouraging street art, to saving foundering operas and symphonies to revamping key museums to helping the cinema sector. In addition to measures for the archeological site of Pompeii and the area surrounding it, the ''Cultural Value'' decree designates 90 million euros of tax credits to the movie industry and another five million in tax credits to promote young music composers and performers. Five hundred university graduates under the age of 35 will be hired for a year to digitalize and catalogue the cultural assets of the country. The first 100 hires will be drawn from southern Italian regions of Puglia, Campania, Calabria and Sicily. Eight million euros will be allocated to the revamping the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and four million granted to the Holocaust Museum of Ferrara. Lyric opera and symphony foundations will be able to access a special 75 million euro fund, to be administered by a government appointed commissioner. ''We have assessed that it is necessary to have a comprehensive measure for lyric-symphonic foundations'' cornered into difficulty, Premier Enrico Letta said in a presentation of the decree. ''The lyric foundations should not continually find themselves with water up to their necks, and thus the decree saves the foundations and gives them essential prospects of stability,'' Letta added. However access to the new lyric-symphonic funds requires balancing budgets, coming up with a relaunch plan, terminating all supplementary contracts, and firing up to 50% of technical and administrative personnel. The Culture Ministry has guaranteed jobs for a large portion of prospective layoffs in the territorial offices of the state-owned cultural asset caretaking company Ales SpA. The decree also foresees allowing artists under age 35 to create installations and new forms of expression in certain state-owned spaces on a six-month rotating basis, similar to Paris's ''59 Rivoli''. The decree also gives the Culture Ministry (MiBAC) more control over its own funds to better manage museums, which it runs. Moreover, the decree allows the ministry to keep all revenues earned through ticket sales and merchandising, reversing of government finance law from 2008 that reduced the ministry's take to 10-15%.

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