Free cultural activities for 18-year-olds

Italian teenagers to receive €500 'cultural bonus' from government


Italian school leavers may face the dismal prospect of 40 per cent youth unemployment, but at least they have one thing to look forward to – a €500 “culture bonus”, courtesy of the government.

From next month, every 18-year-old will be entitled to claim the money and spend it on culturally enriching pursuits such as going to theatres, concerts and museums, visiting archaeological sites, and buying books.

The scheme, which starts on Sept 15, will benefit 575,000 teenagers, at a cost to the government of €290 million (£250 million).

Young people who turn 18 this year will be able to register online and then spend the money through a special app, called 18app.it, which can be downloaded on a smart phone, tablet or computer.

They will have until the end of next year to spend all the credit. They will be spoilt for choice – the country that gave the world Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Fellini has a galaxy of museums and galleries, as well as more World Heritage sites than any other nation.

The scheme is available to other EU citizens living in Italy, including Britons – assuming that Brexit will not happen before the end of 2017.

The initiative was originally announced by Matteo Renzi, the prime minister, in the days following last November’s terrorist attacks in Paris.

He said the government would increase defence and security spending by a billion euros, but match the sum with another billion euros to be spent on culture.

Mr Renzi’s rationale was that terrorism and extremism needs to be fought not only with extra police, border guards and intelligence, but also by a strong affirmation of Europe’s cultural values.

“This is a bonus for kids coming of age, to give them the symbolic awareness of what it means to be an adult in Italy – a main protagonist and heir of the greatest cultural heritage in the world,” the prime minister said when the scheme was first announced nine months ago, 10 days after the Paris attacks.

“We will not give in to terror … we have centuries of history that proclaim the fact that culture will beat ignorance, that beauty is more tenacious than barbarism.”

Tommaso Nannicini, the junior minister in charge of the scheme, said this week: “It sends a clear message – a welcome for those who reach the age of 18 and a reminder of how crucial culture is, both for personal enrichment and for strengthening the social fabric of the country.”

The initiative has been criticised by some opposition MPs, who said it was a crude attempt by Mr Renzi’s centre-Left Democratic Party to buy the goodwill of future voters.

But it has been welcomed by 18-year-olds, who face a difficult economic landscape when they leave school – high unemployment, a lack of secure, long-term contracts and an economy that has performed dismally for a decade.

“Of course we’re happy. Giving each of us 500 euros to spend on culture means investing in our future. And it won’t be imposed from on high, but instead will allow us to participate directly,” said Angelica Magazzino, a teenager from the southern region of Puglia who turns 18 in November.

She attends a dance school and plans to spend her bonus on going to the ballet.




Do you think Spanish 18-year-olds should receive a similar bonus?

What are the pros and cons of the scheme?


Comments

José said…
Hi Graham,

It’s a good idea. To increase culture is very interesting. Culture is the most important to be free, have not illness, enjoy a stunning life and have a good time. All governments should promote activities to people improve culture. Of course, Spanish young should receive the similar bonus.

The Italian prime minister, Mr. Renzi, said that this bonus gives to the Italian kids the symbolic awareness of what it means to be an adult in Italy. I don`t know whether that statement is political or a crude attempt, but I think that Mr. Renzi is smart because he joins culture and mature age. Anyway, Governments in general waste a lot of money on nonsense and when some of them spend it on culture, the opposition criticizes it.

Someone could say that it’s miserable give money to go to museum, library or theatre, but I don’t agree, on the contrary, it’s wise, because people ought to know that the better has a value.

See you.
Graham said…
Hi José,

"Culture" undoubtedly benefits society. However, I am sceptical that this scheme will work and especially so in Italy.

You could also argue as sport helps create a healthier nation, all 18-year-olds should be given money to spend on sporting equipment.


It’s a good idea. To increase culture is very interesting. Culture is the most important thing so as to be free, not have illness, enjoy a stunning life and have a good time. (I'm not sure if this is what you mean) ... Of course, Spanish young should receive a similar bonus.

The Italian prime minister, Mr. Renzi, said that this bonus gives Italian kids the symbolic awareness of what it means to be an adult in Italy. I don`t know whether that statement is political or a crude attempt, but I think that Mr. Renzi is smart because he equates culture with a mature age. ...

Some could say that it’s miserable to give money to museums, libraries or the theatre, but I don’t agree, on the contrary, it’s wise, because people ought to know that the best has a value.