Giancarlo Galan, the former governor of Italy’s Veneto region and most recently minister of Agriculture, has been named Italy’s new culture minister.
Italy’s previous minister of culture Sandro Bondi stepped down following after a series of culture mishaps that brought some of Italy’s arts institutions on the brink of closure.
Bondi’s role was challenged most strongly late in 2010, when the nation was hit by a massive cultural disaster when a 2,000 year old House of Gladiators in Pompeii, a UNESCOWorldHeritage Site collapsed.
Bondi survived that crisis, but when earlier this month Italy’s single arts fund, known as FUS (Fondo Unico Spettacolo) was slashed to record lows, Bondi stepped down.
Film studios Cinecitta, film promotional body and archive Cinecitta Luce, and ultimately the Venice Film Festival expressed that operational activities would be at risk due to the cuts.
The government originally cut $200m (€140m) while a further $37m (€26m) was frozen, bringing the fund down to $367m (€258 m) across all disciplines. However, Galan’s entry was accompanied by the executive branch of the government reinstating the overall arts budget back to 2010’s levels of $608m (€428 m). Although still lower than the arts community would like, the creative industries are breathing a sigh of relief.
Galan joins the ranks of the culture elite after serving as Agriculture minister in 2010-2011. As Governor of the Veneto region, he was among the core group of politicians that at time exercised influence over the Biennale arts organisation, which oversees the Venice film festival and the other Biennale events including the Biennales of art, dance, theatre and architecture.
With today’s decision, the government also said the “arts fund had been stabilized and the tax credit too, will be stable and permanent.” Italy’s tax credit law was just renewed for a second run through 2013. It allows foreign productions to reap benefits up to 25% of production spend.
That law, under Bondi, was saved thanks to a “ticket tax” of one Euro per cinema ticket sold and which was the means to finance the tax credit.
That however has now been reversed. Exhibitors were against levying a tax from cinema goers and the government has instead decided to fund the arts fund and the tax credit by increasing petrol tax by one-two cents.
Paolo Ferrari, president of Italy’s motion picture organization Anica called, the decision to reinstate the arts funding “wise and fair.”
Producer Riccardo Tozzi, president of the producer section of Anica and co-partner of Cattleya expressed his satisfaction. “Now the arts and entertainment can make a better contribution to the rebirth of our country,” he said.