Italian Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli has announced he will run for mayor of Rome, a position he has twice held in 1993 and 1997.

Rutelli's announcement comes on the heels of the recent shake up in the Italian government, which saw Prime Minister Roman Prodi resign after 20 months in office: he lost a risky confidence vote that obliged him to step down.

Rutelli acted as Italy's Culture Minister under the Prodi government, during which time he effectively stabilized the three-festival scenario (Venice, Rome and Turin) and also saw that legislation to approve Venice's long-awaited Palazzo del Cinema was passed. The project is scheduled to break ground this year for a 2011 targeted
completion date.

But Rutelli made no mention of the arts or cinema in his initial campaign platform announcements. His attention will be turned to 'legality and services' for the city.
During his previous term as mayor, however, Rutelli got the Renzo Piano-designed Auditorium Parco della Musica under way. That location is now Rome Film Fest's hub.

Rutelli's announcement isn't the only one to affect the culture sector. Rome's cinefile mayor Walter Veltroni, who is the instigator of the Rome Film Fest, is stepping into the race for premier through the newly created PD party (Democratic Party).

Meanwhile, Silvio Berlusconi - the owner of Italian film giant Medusa and himself twice ex-premier, as well as being the nation's richest citizen - is currently the candidate to beat. Polls indicate his forces will dominate in the parliamentary elections.

Depending on who wins, the small advances made in towards the arts community could be at risk.

In December, Italy's parliament passed an incentives law aimed at film producers that was being formalized - this has been put on hold now that the government has disbanded.

Under Prodi's center-left government a singular arts fund spread across several disciplines known as the FUS was increased 17% over all and film funds were raised more than 14%.

FUS funds were effectively 'frozen' for most of Berlusconi's five years in office.

Italy holds parliamentary elections April 13-14.