Magazine article American Theatre

Italian Theatre Bogs Down as Funding Evaporates

Magazine article American Theatre

Italian Theatre Bogs Down as Funding Evaporates

Article excerpt

THE WORLD ECONOMIC CRISIS HAS BEEN TOUGH ON THE arts almost everywhere, and Italy is no exception. Without detailing the many misdeeds of the former government of Silvio Berlusconi or offering a perspective on the work thus far of his successor, Prime Minister Mario Monti, let us examine how the Italian theatre community is being affected by the crisis and how it is responding.

Speaking generally, in Italy there are two types of theatre institutions--public theatres, known as "Teatri Stabili" (national theatres), and private theatres. The former were created by the government after World War II with the goal of providing Italians with a compelling and affordable theatrical education. The idea was to promote theatrical culture per se, thus taking the pressure off box-office sales. These theatres, which had resident companies in major cities and exchanged productions among themselves, were funded by the national government through a department called ETI (Ente Teatrale Italiano).

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The latter category, private theatres, include commercial venues, not-for-profit organizations and independent theatre companies, all of which normally operate without major financial contributions from the government--although very few of these have been able to count exclusively on their own "private" funding, and employ creative strategies to gain support from whatever sources might be available.

Now those sources are virtually nonexistent. …

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