Coronavirus, an appeal to denounce the crisis of the cultura sector
The COVID-19 emergency is directly affecting the national cultural sector too. In regard to this, council members of many Italian cities have signed an appeal to the Italian government and the presidents of the regions to deal with the critical situation: please read it below.

In this particular historical moment, local and national NHS and economy are not the only ones to have been brought down on their knees: across Italy, the Coronavirus is also debilitating culture and all the organisations representing it in any of its forms. The decree issued on Sunday 8th March by the Prime Minister orders the suspension of all events of a cultural nature, and the closure of museums and other institutions and places of culture “referred to in article no. 101 of the code of cultural heritage and landscape, referred to in the legislative decree no. 42 of 22 January 2004”. A measure, as drastic as many others included in the decree, aiming at curbing the spreading of COVID-19. A different approach from the one adopted by, for example, the UK, but designed to safeguard the health of all the Italians. However, it is important not to neglect the consequences and problems the cultural sector is facing: in this view, council members of many Italian cities from the north and south of the country have redacted and signed a ‘Culture Appeal’ (Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto is among the signatories) addressed to the Italian government and the presidents of the regions.

Here is the text of the appeal:
To the Italian government, to the Presidents of the Regions.
Containing the diffusion of COVID-19 requires sacrifices from all of us. And we all have to rigorously follow the rules and minimise contacts: SI, #iorestoacasa. The total suspension of cultural activities has been the first action to reduce socialising, first in the north and now in the whole of Italy. What we absolutely and urgently need now are measures to absorb the impacts.
The production and services linked to live shows, visual arts, cinema, publishing, museums, libraries and archives, and the offer of cultural experiences in general are largely supported by workers with low job security who, in times like the ones we are experiencing, are risking everything. Men and women who often live of an economy made of passions but with small margins of survival, at constant jeopardy. Artists and operators with atypical work contracts, self-employed, freelance, on casual contracts, employed on a daily basis, etc.

Sometimes gathered in associations, cooperatives, small companies, networks, and also employees under fixed-term contracts.
The whole world of culture also rests on their shoulders, and without a quick response and support it will not be able to recover from the crisis, with extremely serious consequences which will affect the entire country. Cultural life is a distinctive trait and a fundamental resource of Italy, the feather in our cap, it employs millions of qualified people, it is a determining factor in our well-being and quality of life, in our democracy and social cohesion.

We therefore request that, with immediate effect:
• a state of crisis be declared for the whole cultural sector, public and private
• all the instruments available for the safeguard of jobs in a state of crisis be extended to all categories of workers, independently of the type of work contract they are under
• both employed and self-employed workers in the cultural sector be guaranteed basic income, for a certain number of months
• instruments to safeguard the position of workers be introduced, being the cultural sector intrinsically precarious
• banks temporarily suspend short- and long-term repayment schedules, and extend their deadlines for an equal amount of time
• entitlement to public funding be applied to more beneficiaries, the interruption of activities due to the state ordinance be considered with criteria not leading to a reduction in allocated contributions, extraordinary resources be made available to compensate for the loss of earnings of bodies, institutions and organisations
• specific decrees be issued to allow local bodies to waive general and specific regulations concerning the provision of contributions to cultural activities and the collection of local fees and taxes.

Culture has always had the power to generate trust, hope and a sense of community, and to imagine new scenarios even in the most difficult historical moments. Many are the initiatives already launched by who works in this field to be close to our fellow citizens in their homes. And there will be many more. It is imperative that the Italian government collaborate in supporting this sector.

Luca Bergamo, deputy mayor delegate to Cultural Growth – Rome
Adham Darawsha, assessor for Cultures and Democratic Participation – Palermo
Filippo Del Corno, assessor for Culture – Milan
Eleonora De Majo, assessor for Culture and Tourism – Naples
Barbara Grosso, assessor for Cultural, Educational and Youth Politics – Genoa
Francesca Leon, assessor for Culture – Turin
Matteo Lepore, assessor for Culture and Tourism – Bologna
Paola Mar, assessor for Tourism, Toponomastics, Decentralisation and Municipality – Venice
Ines Pierucci, assessor for Cultural and Tourist Politics – Bari
Tommaso Sacchi, assessor for Culture – FlorenceCover

Photo credits: Damiano Andreotti.