Bonus Cultura in Italy: more accessible or more exclusive culture?

The measure is financed up to a maximum of 190 million euros per year and, although the funds are the same as last year, it does not have the same universalist dimension as the previous one.

However, the members of the government, and especially the President of the Council Giorgia Meloni (Fratelli d’Italia), consider that they have improved 18App.

Two cards instead of one

Giorgia Meloni thus explained the new 18App in a facebook post : “ 18App is replaced and improved with the introduction of two new measures, distinct but cumulative : the Youth Culture Card and the Merit Card. She added: “ The first concerns a bonus of 500 euros for 18-year-olds whose families have an Isee (Indicatore della situazione economica equivalente) not exceeding 35,000 euros (per year, NDR), and the other provides a bonus of 500 euros for those who obtain an upper secondary education diploma (the equivalent of the Bac, NDR) with a score of 100/100. Anti-cheating mechanisms will also be strengthened. With these measures, we value merit and put in place a fair system to make culture more accessible to young people. »

The chairman of the Culture Committee and author of the amendment, Federico Mollicone, also explained: We are not removing the 18App, a new card will be developed with more transparent and fairer criteria. »

The government’s point of view

The members of the government who proposed these modifications therefore believe that they have “improved” the 18app and made it accessible according to more criteria transparent, fairer “.

Here is how Giorgia Meloni explained these modifications: We don’t want to remove the culture bonus for 18-year-olds, but there’s no reason » that it is perceived by « the son of a millionaire, a deputy or my daughter. ” And even : “ We must introduce a limit to the income of those who access this measure, better define the content and products that can be purchased. I also believe that we have to work on fraud. I therefore confirm that we intend to modify this rule, but without diverting these resources from their initial objective: youth and culture. »

A measure that leads to exclusion?

The big change is that with the old version of the 18app, all young people over the age of eighteen had direct access to this resource. Today, access is no longer universal but is conditioned by different criteria – social, economic and meritocratic -, leading in fact to the exclusion of certain categories of young people (the wealthiest or ” the least deserving “).

However, as Ricardo Franco Levi, President of the Association of Italian Publishers (AIE), and Paolo Ambrosini, President of the Association of Italian Booksellers (ALI) explain, in a joint statementculture, like the public school, is the good of all and should be supported by all.

In fact, it is not necessarily true that those who come from a high-income family can have a high and reading-rich education; at the same time, rewarding young people who have obtained an excellent result in the Bac (the “maturità” in Italy) rather than helping those who have reading or learning difficulties seems to be an equally questionable choice.

The opposition of the Italian book world

The words of Ricardo Franco Levi and Paolo Ambrosini point in this direction: The choice to transform a universalist measure (…) into a support measure for less well-off families, with the addition of a bonus for those who obtain the best grades at school (…) excludes many young people who could have derived many benefits from this card. »

Indeed, in recent weeks there have been many calls for the 18App not to be changed from its current form. Among these are calls and press releases from Impresa Cultura Italia-Confcommercio, Ali Confcommercio, Federcartolai Confcommercio, Assomusica Confcommercio, the Association of Italian Publishers (Aie).

A more bureaucratic and less egalitarian measure

The president of Confindustria Cultura Italia, Innocenzo Cipolletta, also spoke out against this maneuver, pointing out – like Ricardo Franco Levi – that access to the card could become more difficult due to bureaucratic procedures that families of young people must undertake to prove their right to the card.

As a cultural industrye, says Innocenzo Cipolletta, we consider this to be a bad decision for many reasons (…). Linking the premium to ISEE, in addition to bringing additional bureaucracy that will limit access, is not an equity choice. On the contrary, it means denying the autonomy of these new citizens in relation to their families of origin, who are not necessarily ready – even if they have high incomes – to support their children’s demand for culture and independence. . »

And then he explains: The same argument can be made for merit: (…) we risk marginalizing many children depriving them of the opportunity to learn what the cultural industry designs, creates and achieves for our country today. »

Between illegality and increased sales

The illegal use of the 18App – the economic consequences of which amount to a loss of 9 million euros for the State – is one of the reasons which led the government to modify it.

However, according to Ricardo Franco Levi, citing data from ISTAT (Istituto Nazionale di Statistica), “ this measure has achieved remarkable results, winning back to reading 183,000 young people who had abandoned it in the years preceding the baccalaureate “. The old application indeed represented about 10% of sales.

This measure also comes in a difficult economic context for the world of books (and not only): “ The latest figures tell us that in November, due to the economic situation, purchases of books in physical bookstores, online and in supermarkets fell by 8%. We will assess the development of the situation in the coming months and ask the government to provide weekly data on the actual use of the new cards “.

Photo credits: Giorgia Meloni/Av Vox España. (CC BY 2.0)

Bonus Cultura in Italy: more accessible or more exclusive culture?