Minister makes announcement at Berlin fest

BERLIN — Italy has given final approval for plans to open up the funding of the Venice Film Festival to the private sector.

Minister of Culture Walter Veltroni announced Thursday at the Berlin fest that the government will offer tax incentives to companies who invest in the Biennale.

The move comes on the heels of legislation passed early this month that partially privatized the Biennale, the arts board that controls funding for the Venice fest. Besides increasing the event’s budget, the goal is to streamline its management. Venice’s managing board will be reduced from an unwieldy 19-member committee to a more focused group of five.

The policy change allowing tax relief for corporate sponsors can be taken as a sign that the Biennale is close to setting up a market.

Last year, first-time fest director Felice Laudadio announced the establishment of a Venice market, an addition that would put the festival on a competitive par with Cannes. But, according to unconfirmed reports, the market sponsorship fell through when the Biennale, a cultural org of more than 50 years’ standing, objected to participation by McDonald’s, deeming it inappropriate.

Veltroni’s visit is part of a heightened Italian presence here, marking the closing of a years-long rift between Italy’s film industry and the Berlin Film Festival.

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