Culture And Media

Italy: Budget-cuts prompt entertainment industry walkout

Rome, Nov. 22(AKI) - Cinemas and theatres will go dark on Monday as Italy's entertainment industry agitates against proposed budget cuts to their sector with a one day national strike.

The strike comes as Italy's arts and entertainment workers say they will be affected disproportionatly compared with other areas in culture, such as museums and archeological sites. It is expected that 250,000 will turn out for today's actions.

Italy's arts fund, known as FUS, or fondo unico spettacolo, is a single fund divided between the arts. The Italian government has plans to slash financing for the fund from 450 million euros in 2008 to 262 million euros in 2011, according Italian newspaper La Stampa, citing government figures.

Heavily in debt, the Italian government, along with other European countries, is implementing sharp budget cuts. The Italian culture ministry has been subject to spending reductions to the tune of 16 percent from 2008 to around 1.71 billion euros despite claims that Italy is the country with the richest cultural patrimony.

Actors, directors, producers and other members of Italy's entertainment community last month staged a protest that blocked the opening day at the Rome Film Festival.

They fear tax credits aimed at boosting cinema production, will not be renewed. Big Hollywood productions such as "The Tourist" and "The American" were able to film in Italy thanks to the tax credit.

Speaking of the expected drop to FUS, Silvano Conti, general secretary of the Slc-Cgil communications union that is involved in entertainment, reiterated fears that the tax credit for film production has not been included as renewals in the upcoming budget.

"The situation is serious and worrisome and the solidarity of the strike shows this," Conti told Cinecitta News, a daily Italian film news service.

Entertainment organizations Agis, entertainment trade organization and Anica, Italy's motion pictures organization are strongly joined with the strike as is US major Universal Pictures. The CEO of Universal Pictures Italia Richard Borg said Monday that the major is aligned with the protest.

Italy's culture minister Sandro Bondi has been under fire for not sufficiently lobbying in favour of culture. Following the recent crumbling of Pompeii's 2000-year-old House of the Gladiators, Italy's political opposition has called for Bondi to resign and have forced a confidence vote on the minister's mandate slated later this month.




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