Associations voice their anger at the City after free use of public spaces discontinued in Venice

An open letter denounces the raise in fees for rental of the spaces; “A room that seats 50 now costs 400 Euro. This is how you kill culture”

By Enrico Tantucci

VENICE: No more free public spaces for the cultural associations and citizen volunteer groups that presented projects and proposals for initiatives to the Municipality or to the City. Everyone will have to pay for public spaces such as the Casa del Cinema, the Scoletta dei Calegheri or San Leonardo. This situation has already been denounced by the Venice Municipality President Giovanni Andrea Martini, and which has now pushed a wide range of citizens’ groups (among which are: P.E.R. Venezia Consapevole, Associazione Resistenze, Uaar Circolo di Venezia, VeneziaCambia, Nuova Icona associazione culturale per le arti, Cinema senza diritti, Comitato Rialto Novo, Associazione Coro Marmolada, Associazione Altra Europa-Laboratorio Venezia, Comitato permanente contro le guerre e il razzismo di Marghera), individual citizens and the Municipality to write an open letter to condemn the situation.

“With the new directive issued by the Brugnaro Administration, the use of municipal public spaces intended for cultural activities (cinemas  – Girogione, Rossini, Astra and Pasinetti, – Candiani Cultural center, Zitelle Cultural center), we read in the letter, will only be available for a fee. This would in many cases be justified, for private businesses that want to use these public spaces to pay the City, or really the community, a fair market price. However it is absolutely unacceptable that non-profit associations who organize initiatives that are simply aimed at promoting debate and the cultural growth of all the citizens should be treated the same way.

These public spaces belong to the citizens. Cities own cinemas, theaters, conference halls and libraries in order to stimulate and increase educational and cultural activities , as is stated in the Constitution, and not to collect money from the citizens who are the actual owners. Many associations have for years, in collaboration with the City Administration, organized meetings, film festivals, shows, debates, conferences, and exhibits, bringing a rich, lively and varied cultural life to Venice and Mestre. Now these organizations are being asked to pay fees which run from 100 to 700 Euro per event, effectively preventing them from pursuing any initiatives. To give one example, who would want to propose the screening of a film in Venice if they have to pay 400 Euro (plus VAT, plus Siae tax) for the use of a room that seats 50? Cultural proposals for the city, developed at the grassroots through the cooperative work of citizens will therefore be charged a fee as though they were private events, unless of course one can find the approval of the city managers who, at their discretion, can make special concessions on the prices for initiatives which they feel are in line with “the programs and goals of the City”. Here we see the risk of political and cultural censorship, in contempt of the principles of social plurality and democratic administration. We invite all the citizens to protest”.

“Spaces such as Cz95 at Zitelle or Palazzo da Mula on Murano sadly remain closed”, said Martini.

Source: La Nuova Venezia 3 May 2018

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