Center-left government boosts funding 17%

ROME — Italy has upped arts funding 17% to a total Euros 441 million ($573 million) for 2007 in the first tangible sign of the center-left government’s more pro-arts stance compared with the days when Silvio Berlusconi ran the country.

Culture minister Francesco Rutelli has announced the boost for the single fund known as FUS, which includes film, theater, opera and dance subsidies.

While not huge in monetary terms, the increase is significant since the national budget deficit has been ballooning.

Film funds, which had been frozen for most of Berlusconi’s five-year reign, have been upped 14.4% to $103 million. That is slightly more than the $95.5 million earmarked for theater, but way less than the $272 million allocated for opera, in this opera-mad nation.

“This is good news that marks an important turning point in terms of policies for film and entertainment,” enthused Italo motion picture association ANICA prexy Paolo Ferrari, who is also chief of Warner Bros. Italy, in a statement.

Ferrari and producer Riccardo Tozzi, topper of producers entity within ANICA, however urged the government to get the ball rolling on a proposed radical reform of the film sector modeled on the French system, which draws more than $1.3 billion a year for various forms of film funding by taxing a movie’s many revenue streams, said Tozzi.

“This is just a first step: there is still a lot that needs to be done before culture really becomes a government priority,” said Rutelli, who vowed that a new Italo film law is on the agenda this year.

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